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      Mounted Police Unit Commander Sued Over Amona Brutality

      The case, filed in a Herzliya Magistrate's Court, is the first civil lawsuit against a commanding police officer stemming from violence at Amona.
      By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
      First Publish: 8/14/2008, 10:02 AM

      photo: file

      The commanding officer of the Mounted Police Unit, Superintendent Zevulun Hadar, is being sued for damages in civil court by a young woman who was trampled during the violent evictions from Amona in 2006. The case, filed in a Herzliya Magistrate's Court, is the first civil lawsuit against a commanding police officer stemming from the violence at the Amona protests.
      She and dozens of other young women sat passively in the road into Amona.

      The plaintiff, Rivka Turgeman, claims to suffer a 10 percent disability as a result of unjustified violence against her during the 2006 eviction of protesters prior to demolition of nine structures at the Samaria town of Amona. According to the action filed by Attorney Pinchas Maoz of the Yesha Human Rights Organization, Turgeman, 18 years old at the time of the protest, said she and dozens of other young women sat passively on the road into Amona on the night before the scheduled eviction. When the mounted police made their way towards the town along the road, according to Turgeman, one police officer purposely ran her down and several others trampled her under hoof.

      The first rider who slammed into Turgeman, the lawsuit says, "decided to ignore the dozens of girls in his way and galloped towards them, needlessly and without any provocation on their part, without any effort to go around them. He did not even slow his pace." After knocking her down, it is alleged, the mounted policeman did not stop to check on his victim. At that point, the other passive resisters scattered, but Turgeman, unable to move, remained on the road. "And in that state, she continued to be trampled by four or five additional riders who galloped over her body, while she was helpless to defend herself. It will be noted that not a single rider assisted or offered first aid to the plaintiff," according to the court filing.

      Turgeman had serious injuries to all parts of her body, as well as suffering psychological trauma which still remains. In addition to medical treatment for the injuries, she had to undergo lengthy physiotherapy in order to recover functionality.although she still is partially disabled.

      Shortly after the events at Amona, the Police Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) opened an investigation into the brutality against Turgeman. However, the case was closed because the violators could not be successfully identified. The IAU investigator made a notation that he recommended to Superintendent Hadar that he learn the lessons from the Turgeman incident and include them in future training. According to the investigator, Hadar replied that he sees no need to do so because he emphasizes the need to take care due to the weight of the horses.

      Turgeman's court action was filed against Superintendent Hadar personally, who was present and in command during the Amona eviction. Turgeman's lawsuit holds Hadar personally responsible for the mounted police officers' behavior, because he "did nothing to prevent the attack and the damages incurred."

      The Turgeman investigation was far from the only one opened in the wake of the violent eviction and clash with protesters in Amona, which became the flashpoint in the conflict between the government and residents for Jewish rights in Judea and Samaria. More than 2,000 riot police and mounted officers were sent to the scene. A number of club-swinging police officers and at least one mounted police officer were indicted for their role in the ensuing violence.