A Jerusalem woman who allegedly posted an online ad demanding the release of a woman who was jailed for “insult[ing]” Jehovah’s Witness leaders has been sentenced to 10 years in jail.
The woman was arrested in November 2013 on a criminal complaint accusing her of making anti-Jehovah’s Witnesses remarks, including the assertion that the Jewish people are “the chosen ones” and “the only ones who will rule Israel.”
The charges stemmed from an online post on the Israeli website JTA in which the woman said she “has the right to say what she wants and no one will interfere in her rights.”
The woman’s lawyer, Shlomo Zandberg, said that he believes that the court will be “unwilling to take her [the woman] to court, as this is an insult to the court system.”
He added that the sentence will be applied retroactively.
“It’s not that she was inciting.
It’s that she did not act in a peaceful manner,” he said.
In addition to the sentence of 10 years, the woman has to pay the costs of a lawyer’s fees.
The man’s lawyer also argued that his client was the victim of a smear campaign.
“This is not about freedom of speech, this is about free speech,” said Zandov.
“The fact that [the man] was arrested was part of a plan to target his life, to punish him.”
The man is the sole survivor of the attack.
“I will continue to fight to have my life back, to fight against my sentence, to defend my right to speak and the right of freedom of expression,” he told Al Jazeera.
“A year ago I didn’t have any money, I was unemployed.
Now I have a job and my daughter’s in school.
I can’t go to work because of the harassment, but I have the right.
We are here because we are Israelis, and Israel is our home, and this is our right to be here.”
Zandberg said that the incident happened during a period of Israeli occupation, and that he had no previous complaints against the woman.
“She has a right to freedom of religion, of religion and freedom of opinion,” he added.
Zandger said that since the incident, the Israeli government has not responded to his case and that the woman will appeal.
“They don’t seem to care,” he argued.
“There’s no accountability, there’s no justice.”
The Jerusalem District Court has previously held that the law on freedom of assembly applies to all members of the public, not just members of religious groups.
However, the court’s decision did not specifically address the incident that led to the woman’s arrest.
In its ruling, the Jerusalem District court ruled that “freedom of expression is guaranteed to all citizens, irrespective of their political beliefs, even when they disagree with those beliefs”.
Zandburg said that even though the case is still in the process of being investigated, “it’s a clear sign that Israel is not protecting freedom of thought and speech”.
“It is not just about the person who is accused, it’s about the law itself,” he continued.
“That’s the problem with the law: it’s not only the law but also the culture that is corrupt.”
Israel’s laws on freedom have been criticized by human rights organisations in the past, and the country has repeatedly faced criticism for its treatment of Jews in particular.
In 2011, a court ordered the release from Israeli jails of more than 1,000 Jewish prisoners, including women, for alleged crimes committed as a result of “political considerations.”
In 2012, a report by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights accused Israel of systematically stifling Palestinian civil society.
The report said that Israeli policies towards the Palestinian population and Jewish citizens of Israel “constitute a severe violation of the right not to be subjected to arbitrary detention, torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
In 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution condemning Israel for its discriminatory treatment of the Palestinians.