High Court Judge Blames Kfar Maimon Crowd for Police Damage

A High Court justice Thursday told Kfar Maimon farmers to get rid of their "guests" instead of appealing to the court to order police off their private land.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, | updated: 18:59

Justice Mishael Cheshin, who in the past has made several pointed remarks against opponents to the government's expulsion plan, told the farmers that "the police were fulfilling their obligation" in surrounding the agricultural community. During this week's massive rally against the government plan, almost 20,000 policemen and soldiers rolled barbed wire around the community, locked the gates and built dirt barricades to prevent people from marching towards Gush Katif.

The farmers asked the court to order the police out of the moshav because the massive force caused damage to hothouses and crops. The government argued that the presence of police was necessary in order to prevent the tens of thousands against the expulsion plan from marching towards Gush Katif.

"Go and call on your guests to leave the place and that will let you live your lives," Cheshin told the farmers.

The court also did not rule on an appeal by four bus companies which questioned the legality of the police to stop more than 125 buses from leaving Israeli's major cities this week. The buses were scheduled to take more than 10,000 people to join the rally at Kfar Maimon, and police took away the drivers' licenses of at least four bus drivers, thus preventing them from taking the protestors. Law enforcement officials claimed that the rally was illegal because the organizers announced it would be followed by a march with the intention of entering the closed military zone of Gush Katif.

The court heard the appeal earlier in the week, but delayed ruling on the issue until Thursday, after the three-day rally was to end. Court President Aharon Barak explained that the issue was complicated, but repeated the idea of a former American Supreme Court judge that freedom of speech does not include yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. Barak admitted that the analogy was not necessarily applicable to buses taking people to a rally.

The bus companies withdrew their appeals Thursday because the rally was over, and the court left undecided the question of whether the police were in their rights to stop the buses. Barak stated that the court should not rule on the matter because the matter is not presently applicable.

Eitan Leshem, attorney for the bus companies, claimed that the court's "elegant dodge" from deciding suggests that "the police decidedly went one step too far."