The Jerusalem Magistrates Court ruled that a policeman lied in official reports, another one misled the court, and a third one slandered Yitzhar residents. All in all, the police must pay 50,000 shekels in fines.
Judge Irit Cohen ruled that Shomron Police District Intelligence Chief Yaakov Golan wrote three false reports against Yitzhar residents, that Detective Officer Gil Desheh submitted similarly deceptive information to courts on several occasions, and that Police Officer Eliezer Alharar, who served then as Commander of the Serious Crimes Unit in the Samaria/Judea Police District, slandered the same residents on the radio and elsewhere.
Yitzhar spokesman Avraham Binyamin said, “It has once again been proven that police reports in the media about Yitzhar are slanders and libels sewn up very coarsely. The lies disseminated by the police against the residents come to cover up their ineptitude, lack of professionalism and chronic negligence in the fight against Arab crime.”
The story at hand began in the summer of 2004 when an Arab shepherd claimed that his flock of sheep had been stolen and was being held in the Shomron town of Yitzhar, between Kedumim and Itamar, south of Shechem (Nablus). The police allowed the shepherd to enter Yitzhar, “identify” his flock, and take it back without further ado – over the residents’ protests that the sheep had not been stolen and in fact belonged to them.
Anticipating the residents would not take it lying down, the police waited in ambush – and when some of the former chased after the Arab and their sheep and restored the flock to its Jewish owners, the police promptly arrested the Jews. However, they did not arrest those who retrieved the sheep, but rather the members of the emergency alert team of Yitzhar, who had arrived on the scene not because of the flock, but because of reports that an Arab had infiltrated the town.
Over the next ten days, the four arrested men were held in jail, and their case was brought before three different courts. The evidence against them consisted of reports by policeman Yaakov Golan and appearances by officer Gil Desheh accusing them of “armed robbery.” Three lawyers of the Honenu Civil Rights Organization worked hard to prove that the charges were false, the four were finally freed, and the case against them was ultimately closed.
However, the four emergency crew members refused to let the matter end there. With the help of Honenu and Attorney Elad Rosenblatt, they sued the police for damages.
Judge Irit Cohen found for the plaintiffs, ruling that “in their enthusiasm to teach the Yitzhar residents a lesson, the police lied both in the courts and to the media.” She did not relate to the question of ownership of the flock.
Specifically, the police reports stated that there were witnesses and videos documenting the plaintiffs “brutally beating the shepherd and stealing the sheep” - when in fact no such witnesses or videos could be produced.
Yitzhar: How Can the Police Be Trusted?
Others in Yitzhar noted that Policeman Desheh often appears in court to testify against Jews, and that the police will now have to explain how his word can be trusted after it has been shown that he lied on three separate occasions.
The police will not have to pay for the ten days of false incarceration, because the judge found that the accused did not cooperate with the police during the investigation, thus helping to extend their stay in prison.