Nationalists Lose in Court to Police, Ordered to Pay
The two well-known Land of Israel activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir lost a lawsuit against police on Wednesday, and were ordered to pay NIS 13,000 in court fees. The two were undeterred by the verdict, and said they would appeal to the District Court.
Marzel and Ben-Gvir had filed suit in the Jerusalem Magistrates Court against police in Judea, saying police had trampled their rights and caused them damages by arresting them during a demonstration in Hevron four years ago. The two demanded NIS 100,000 in damages.
According to Marzel and Ben-Gvir, they took part in a non-violent protest when the Attorney General, State Prosecutor, and the Director-General of the Justice Ministry visited the city of Hevron, where both activists live. Residents of Hevron demonstrated against the legal measures used to defeat opponents of the 2005 Disengagement in Gaza and northern Samaria.
Ben-Gvir said he yelled phrases such as “You need to learn what democracy means,” and “You're jailing 12-year-old children.”
The police version
The defense said the protest was far more violent and angry than Ben-Gvir or Marzel had admitted. Demonstrators – the plaintiffs included – shouted insults such as “Criminal,” “Dictator,” and “You know what happens to traitors,” at the visiting justice officials, defense attorneys said.
Attorneys for the police said protesters, including Marzel and Ben-Gvir, had attempted to break through the security around the government officials using physical force. Demonstrators had pushed policemen and then threatened that if police used force in response, they would face a civil lawsuit, attorneys said.
Both Marzel and Ben-Gvir denied having used physical force at any point during the confrontation.
The 2005 demonstration ended with both Marzel and Ben-Gvir in police custody. Police accused Ben-Gvir of resisting arrest. Both were charged with assaulting police officers, insulting a public servant, and improper public behavior.
In his ruling Wednesday, Judge Yechezkel Barclay said he was impressed by the police, who “displayed an impressive degree of patience with the insults hurled at them by their brothers, their flesh and blood.”
'We're Still Ahead'
Ben-Gvir and Marzel were not fazed by the ruling. “We'll appeal to the District Court. The judge ignored the violation of our civil rights, and the fact that even after the entourage left Hevron, police kept us in custody purely as revenge,” they said after the verdict was handed down.
"In any case, the state attorneys shouldn't be too quick to rejoice. On the tab between us and the state attorneys, so far the state has paid approximately NIS 250,000 in damages... while this is the first time we've been asked to pay court fees,” they added.