A young woman who accused police of violence won 20,000 shekels ( over $5,000) this week after state attorneys failed to appear in court. The woman, Ayelet Falk of Ofra, said police deliberately injured her during a 2006 protest against the demolition of homes in Amona, north of Jerusalem.
Falk based her claim on footage aired by Channel 1 television, which showed the removal of protesters for the roof of one of the homes slated for demolition. As police removed her from the roof, she said, they pushed her head backwards several times very forcefully in a deliberate attempt to cause pain.
The officers' actions were completely unnecessary, as four policemen were holding her by the hands and feet at the time, her attorney noted. “Police repeated this cruel act three times as Ayelet moaned in pain... This was an act of violence for its own sake which had no connection to the officers' mission,” he argued.
Ayelet filed suit for damages after a police Internal Affairs unit refused to look into her accusations, saying her claims were “not of public interest.” She was represented by attorney Benny Levin of the Yesha Human Rights organization.
State attorneys did not show up for the trial due to an ongoing strike. In their absence, Judge Gad Erenberg of the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court awarded Falk 20,000 shekels in damages, to be paid by the police.
More than 200 protestors were wounded in the Amona demolition, including a 15-year-old boy who was left in a temporary coma after officers hit him in the head. Also wounded were two Members of Knesset, Effie Eitam and Aryeh Eldad; Eldad's arm was broken.
Protesters accused police of using excessive violence, deliberately attacking peaceful protesters, and threatening to rape young women. Most of the charges were dismissed by Internal Affairs, which saw fit to pursue only four claims against violent officers.
The scale of the violence led to suspicions that police had been acting on orders from above designed to deter future nationalist protests against home demolition and expulsion of Jews.