Border Police (illustrative)
Border Police (illustrative) Israel news photo: Flash 90

Jerusalem District Court judge Rafi Carmel handed down an unusual ruling Tuesday, finding Border Police officer Saeed Malsheh guilty of robbery for taking goods while carrying a gun and not offering to pay. While Malsheh had not been asked to pay, he must have realized that the reason for that was that the cashier was frightened, the judge ruled.

Malsheh was convicted for taking goods from a store in a Bedouin town while patrolling in Judea and Samaria (Shomron). On two occasions in 2010 he entered the store and took merchandise without paying.

On both occasions he was carrying his gun. During his first visit to the store, after taking goods he asked the cashier, “Are you going to make trouble?” When the man answered “no,” he took more goods and walked out.

He was found guilty of robbery because his weapon and status as a police officer served to intimidate the cashier and effectively negate any chance of resistance. He was not charged with theft because he did not overtly threaten the cashier or attempt to conceal his activity.

“When the accused entered that specific store, after exiting a Border Police jeep in which there were fighters, while in uniform and armed with a Saar rifle… from a reasonable person’s point of view this was a threat… Even if the accused did not raise his weapon, the circumstances as a whole constitute intimidation… If another person, not an armed Border Police officer, had done the same thing, it is not hard to guess the response of the cashier, who testified that he did not act in this case because he feared for his life,” the judge wrote.