The Aryeh Schiff affair took place in 2020 on the night of November 28. Three masked men from the Bedouin diaspora arrived to break into and steal vehicles in Arad.
Schiff, due to renovations carried out in his house, slept in a trailer where his car was parked later. Towards midnight, upon hearing noises from the direction of the road, Schiff woke up and recognized three masked men trying to steal his car. He came out with his weapon, shouted at the burglars to stop, shot at the vehicle, and fatally hit Muhammad El-Atrash, the other two members of the squad escaped.
Schiff immediately called the police and reported the incident, El-Atrash was taken to the hospital and Schiff was detained for questioning at the Arad police on suspicion of murder. During the investigation, the news arrived that El-Atrash had died from the gunshot wounds.
The killing caused a public uproar
The affair ignited a public uproar on the issue of self-defense against the helplessness of the police in crime in the South. Politicians claimed the defendant's innocence according to the self-defense clause of the Penal Code (Article 34J):
"A person will not be held criminally responsible for an act that was immediately necessary to repel an unlawful attack from which there was a tangible danger of harming one of the protected interests (life, liberty, body, property) of himself or another."
The claim also focused on the belief that "there is no rule of law in the area where Schiff lives and therefore it makes sense that he would protect himself and his family." Some of the residents of Arad hugged Schiff and went to support demonstrations with the cry "We are all Aryeh Schiff". Many citizens defined Schiff as a victim of the reality in the South and argued that it was right to give him a certificate of appreciation rather than an indictment.
Nine months of community service and punitive damages
In July 2021, the district court in Beer Sheva convicted Schiff as part of a plea agreement of reckless homicide with a proviso for proximity to a residence. Although the prosecutor's office sought to impose on Schiff a sentence of 4-6 years in prison, Judge Revital Yaffe Katz set a sentence of nine months of community service and punitive damages of 10,000 NIS to the victim's family.
The judge justified her decision by stating that "the accused was dragged into an event that he did not initiate or plan, something that was Aryeh Schiffdone by the deceased and his accomplices, the accused stood alone, late at night, in front of the deceased and his accomplices, all masked, whose presence was enough to instill terror and fear"
Aryeh Schiff apologized for the tragedy and even recited Kaddish for El-Atrash while he recited for his son who was killed in a car accident some 24 years ago.
The family did not appear for the hearing
In January 2022, the widow and the eight children of the slain man, Muhammad El-Atrash, filed a tort claim against Schiff, in which they demanded compensation at the threshold of 4.3 million NIS for the damage caused to them in his killing.
Today (Monday) as mentioned, the family did not show up for the hearing, nor did anyone on their behalf or their lawyer, and therefore the district court rejected their claim.