Daily Israel Report

Riot Police to Pay "Land of Israel" Activist

A riot police officer and his underling have been ordered to compensate a Land of Israel loyalist they attacked during an incident near Hashmonaim.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/22/2009, 1:39 PM

A riot police officer and his underling have been ordered to compensate a Land of Israel loyalist they attacked during an incident near Hashmonaim.  Officer Gal Segev and policeman Rafael Cohen, both of the Judea and Samaria Riot Police, must pay him 4,000 shekels out of their own pocket.

The incident in question occurred over the Sukkot holiday nearly a year and a half ago, when youths from around the country took part in simultaneous efforts to start new points of Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria.  Among the sites were Maalot Halhoul near Kiryat Arba, Eitam Hill in Efrat, Shvut Ami near Kedumim, and Harhivi near Elon Moreh.

Some 20 rabbis of Gush Etzion signed a proclamation at the time endorsing the attempts to build the new towns.  Settling the Land of Israel is "a commandment equal to all the others in the Torah," the rabbis wrote, adding that it is now imperative to "build the hilltops, whose construction and development are being held up for various strange reasons, stemming primarily from the weakness of our leadership, and also from a failure to see the reality religiously, politically and demographically." 

Nachum Greenblum was one of hundreds taking part in the attempt to build the fifth new locale: Nofei Hashmonaim, in western Binyamin, just ten kilometers east of Ben Gurion International Airport. 

As in many of the other locations, security forces attempted to break up the Nofei Hashmonaim initiative forcefully and even violently. A video of the event shows Greenblum being attacked by policeman Cohen, who hit him in the face and repeatedly tried to put his hand into Greenblum’s pants.  Officer Segev choked Greenblum, and threatened, “We’ll turn you into a carved-out rock.”

The video was handed over to the police department’s Bureau for Complaints Against Policemen, which filed disciplinary charges against Cohen. In addition, both Cohen and Segev were sued in civil court by the Yesha [Judea and Samaria] Civil Rights Organization, headed by Orit Strook of Hevron.

The State Attorney’s Office, defending the policemen, took the position that the suit was groundless, as “no harm had been caused the plaintiff.” In addition, the defense claimed that the suit was an example of an “increasingly common phenomenon of suits against policemen filed by the Yesha Civil Rights group, taking unfair advantage of the damage laws.  Their goal is to weaken the policemen’s hands, for impure reasons, and this phenomenon should be uprooted.”

“Even a very low monetary award to the plaintiff,” the State posited, “will encourage law-breaking and provocations.”

Attorney Benny Levin, on behalf of the Civil Rights Organization, said, “The State Attorney’s Office has set a new high in the outlook that states that a public servant is always right and that working for the State means automatic protection for every violent act... Is it impure to seek deterrence, which is the foundation of damage laws?"

Levine asked the Court to “reject the precedent that the State wishes to create, banning those who are harmed by police actions from filing damage claims.”

Judge David Mintz of the Jerusalem Magistrates Court sided with the latter view, and ruled, to the tune of 4,000 shekels (nearly $1,000), in favor of Greenblum, who is now a soldier in the IDF.