The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled that the police must compensate an ultra-Orthodox resident of Beit Shemesh and a witness on his behalf in the total amount of NIS 24,000; This follows a series of allegations of negligence and injustice on the part of the police, who arrested the ultra-Orthodox and held him in illegal detention.
The plaintiff was arrested on suspicion of involvement in an incident of throwing stones and blocking a road during a demonstration in support of “Mehadrin” bus lines that occurred in 2016. He was arrested early in the morning at his home, six days after the demonstration in question.
However, during his arrest, the police committed a series of injustices against him, following which he decided to sue the police, through his lawyer Itamar Ben Gvir. First, the prosecutor claimed that instead of arresting him in the morning, the police could have called for an investigation. In addition, the conditions of detention in which he was held were contrary to the Detention Act.
According to him, there was no bed, mattress or blanket in the detention cell, nor soap and toilet paper, and in addition he was not provided with kosher food in the court. And if that was not enough, several hours after his arrest, the police decided to conduct a humiliating search on his body.
But the “most disturbing point” in the plaintiff’s case, according to Judge Keren Miller’s ruling, concerns the conduct of the police after the plaintiff was due to be released from custody. In a hearing that took place in his case after his arrest in court, the court ordered his release on conditions, including the signing of a self-guarantee, a third-party guarantee and a monetary deposit.
The person who fulfilled the conditions for the release of the plaintiff is Y., a public activist in the ultra-Orthodox community at that time. Immediately after the hearing in which the court ordered the release of the plaintiff, Y. came up to arrange the deposit with the court secretariat. But later, when he approached the police station in the Russian compound to sign a bail, the station refused to allow him to sign on the grounds that it was only possible to sign at the police station in Beit Shemesh.
Y. contacted another person, named A., in order for him to sign at the station in Beit Shemesh. He arrived at the station in Beit Shemesh around 11:00 PM, but there he was told that there was no investigator at the station and therefore he could not sign and he had to go to the station in Jerusalem. According to the lawsuit, he contacted Y. and informed him about it, and as a result, Y. turned to the Lev HaBira station in Jerusalem again, but was told that there was no on-duty investigator and that he had to arrive later.
Even after he returned there was still no investigator at the station who could sign him for the required bail and he was forced to go and return again. When he returned to the station around 4:00, he was finally signed only around 5:00 in the morning. After this tract of things the plaintiff was released only around 6:00 a.m., almost a day after the court ordered his release.
After filing the lawsuit, the plaintiff requested that Y. testify before the court about what was done. However, when the evidentiary phase of the trial took place, Y. lived in England, and the trial took place in the middle of the Corona period. Therefore, the plaintiff requested that Y. testify by virtual means, such as in Zoom, but the prosecution objected and demanded that he physically appear for the hearing.
Following the prosecution’s opposition, Y. was forced to fly to Israel, undergo negative corona tests, and even go into 10-day solitary confinement on his return to England – all at a cost of thousands of shekels.
In her ruling, Judge Keren Miller wrote that “if the plaintiff had insisted and submitted a request to testify Y. through a visual committee I would have responded to this despite the prosecution’s objection, but the plaintiff’s lack of insistence following the prosecution’s objection to his duty cannot be attributed.” Accordingly, the judge ruled that the state would compensate the witness in the total amount of NIS 10,170. With regard to the prosecution’s conduct, she wrote: “It cannot be avoided to remark that the prosecution’s conduct in the case of this witness is puzzling and it seemed that an attempt was made to burden the plaintiff as much as possible without justification.”
As for the poor conditions in which the plaintiff was in custody, the judge wrote that the police “did not bring any evidence to refute the plaintiff’s allegations in this matter.” Regarding the humiliating search conducted on him, the judge ruled that the search was done illegally, and it is not clear why it was necessary, as it was conducted several hours after the arrest was made, noting that the plaintiff is a 56-year-old man with no criminal record. Following the series of said injustices, the judge ruled that the state must compensate the plaintiff with NIS 13,000.
The prosecutor’s attorney, Adv. Itamar Ben Gvir, said: “I am happy with the court’s decision, which is once again sending the police, for the umpteenth time, a clear message: The ultra-Orthodox also have rights in the State of Israel. The unbearable ease with which the police deny religious and ultra-Orthodox detainees such basic rights should keep sleep out of the eyes of every law-abiding citizen in the State of Israel. “
Ben Gvir added that “for this reason I am coming to the next Knesset – to change from the root the discriminatory attitude of the police and the law enforcement system against the ultra-Orthodox.”