Police Held to Task for Excessive Force

A Jewish Hevron boy, aged 9, has been awarded damages from a policeman who bent his fingers, causing him "pain and suffering."Another policeman who choked a right-wing protestor went on trial today.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 11:45

The Hevron case involved an incident that occurred in April 2005. Hevron residents were protesting against the decision to allow an Arab family with a strong terrorist background to move into a house adjacent to the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. At one point, the boy was standing atop a fence, and the police officer in question ordered him to come down. The boy did so, and then, he said, "the policeman bent back two fingers on my right hand, for no reason. He bent them and it hurt and I cried."

The boy's testimony was backed up two adult Hevron residents.

Jerusalem District Court justice Moshe Bar-Am rejected the policeman's story that the boy began crying while he was still atop the fence. Bar-Am said, "I hereby rule that the officer bent the boy's fingers after he got down from the fence, without any reason or justification being given... True, the boy's behavior was not appropriate... but certainly a police officer can be expected to show patience and restraint even towards those who disobey legal orders, and certainly towards little children..."

However, because the judge said he was not persuaded that the police officers' behavior was premeditated and intended to hurt, "this behavior must be seen as a momentary lapse and a spontaneous, though unacceptable, reaction towards one who knowingly violated a clear order..." The judge therefore ordered the policeman to pay 1,500 shekels to the boy.

The Federman Legacy
The boy is the son of Noam Federman, who himself has been involved in many court cases in the past. Just four weeks ago, he was briefly arrested during a demonstration against the administrative orders distancing some 20 young men from their homes and families in Judea and Samaria. (This past Thursday, one of the 20 was freed - five days before his distancing orders were to expire - as the result of a court case represented by Atty. Yitzchak Bam of the Land of Israel Legal Forum.)

Federman was placed under administrative detention and house arrest for well over a year, and later he sued the government for false arrest - and was awarded 100,000 shekels in damages. Federman's daughter also has a history with the legal system; she was arrested at the same protest as her brother, but refused to cooperate with what she called the "non-Torah legal system" and was kept in prison for many weeks.

Two months ago, the Ministry of Justice turned down Noam Federman's application to be licensed as an attorney. This, following his having been charged over 20 times with various counts of disturbing the peace; he defended himself in court, and was convicted eight times. Despite his legal success rate in court, and his law school studies, he is currently not allowed to practice law in Israel.

Policeman on Trial for Choking
In Be'er Sheva today, the trial of a policeman accused of choking a Gush Katif teenager during an anti-Disengagement protest began. The picture of the Border Guard policeman fiercely gouging his fingers into the neck of Elad Cohen of Netzer Hazani was widely circulated, but identifying the policeman himself took some time. The incident occurred at the Kisufim Crossing in the weeks before the expulsion of 9,000 Jews from their homes in Gush Katif and northern Shomron.