Tuesday, May 20, 2008


On May 5, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch postponed the start of the prison terms for Dan and Yitzhak Halamish, two Jewish security guards, convicted of assaulting 20 Bedouins who surrounded them with sticks and rocks on land belonging to the Jewish community of Sde Bar in eastern Gush Etzion. The brothers were sentenced to seven and eight months respectively and have applied for a pardon from President Shimon Peres.

The Knesset has approved a law stipulating that criminal records will automatically be expunged after seven years, when the case of the crime has been closed.

Prison authorities at the Ayalon Prison in Ramle discriminated against Jewish security prisoners on Holocaust Day. Authorities forbade the prisoners to leave their high security cells to attend the ceremony but allowed Arabs prisoners to attend instead. Prison authorities said they refused the request from the Jewish prisoners to attend the ceremony for their own safety.

The Netzer outpost between the Jewish communities of Elazar and Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion was destroyed for the eighth time on April 29. On April 30, the army declared the area a closed military zone and arrested four people. Security forces under order from IDF Etzion Commander Nir Salomon later stole all the furniture and a closet filled with prayer books from the destroyed structure.

A new home built in the Jewish community of Netiv Avot located between Elazar and Neve Daniel in Gush Etzion has been threatened with destruction. Munir Abu Hasan, supported by Pease Now, filed a suit in the Supreme Court against Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and home-owned Mordechai Bibi to have the home destroyed, claiming the land as his own. The Supreme Court will decide the case in May.

On April 3, the army destroyed the Jewish synagogue of Hazon David between Kiryat Arba and Hebron. The synagogue, dedicated to the memory of two Jewish victims of Arab terror, was destroyed over 30 times by Israeli policy and the army. Anti-government activists have pledged to rebuild it.

On the eve of Passover, Israeli soldiers arrived at the new home of the Ben-David family located in the vineyard of the Jewish community of Negohot to throw them out of their home and serve them with a closed military zone area order. The troops cut off the gas and electricity and threw out the furniture and the food of the family just hours before the Passover Seder. The soldiers returned on the first day of Passover to serve them a second closed military zone area, thus breaking the Sabbath. The Ben-David's have five children and are expecting their sixth and they have been living in Negohot for 11 years. Negohot was one of the communities built by the government of Israel.

Israeli police and the Civil Administration destroyed the swimming pool in the home of Attorney Doron Nir Zvi in the Jewish community of Havat Yair during Passover. Nir Zvi wrote a letter to the Samarian Police Commander Albert Ohayun saying that Russian Kossacks acted in the same way. Ohayun has filed a complaint against Nir Zvi for insulting a public official.

The Israeli Association for Civil Rights has filed a suit with the Supreme Court against the government which has enacted a new law allowing the police to examine all cellular phone records and internet records of citizens. The new "big brother" law is scheduled to go into effect in June 2008.
The Association for Civil Rights in Judea and Samaria has filed a civil suit against three police officers filmed violently a attacking a Jewish minor demonstrating against the government's demolition of nine homes in the Jewish community of Amona in February 2005. The police department for investigating police officers closed the case but the video clearly shows officers Dvir Tamim, Eyal Cohen and Ben-Zion Hazan sticking their fingers in to the nostrils of the youth who was not resisting and then kicking him in the testicles.

The police have once again refused to evict Arab squatters from a Jewish-owned home in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa in Jerusalem. After a 15 year legal battle against the Arab squatters, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that Yitzhak Hershkowitz is the rightful owner of the property but the police refuse to implement the court's decision despite an order to do so.

On the eve of Passover, the Supreme Court ordered the State Prosecution to answer why two Jewish security guards, brothers Dan and Yitzhak Halamish, should not be allowed to stay out of prison whilst Israeli President Shimon Peres considers their application for a pardon. The state was given 15 days to respond to the Supreme Court.

The Knesset approved a law on March 25 that said that criminal records will automatically be expunged after seven years. In most of these cases, a criminal file was opened but did not result in an indictment, usually due to lack of evidence or lack of public interest and the cases were closed but the criminal records remain in the police database. The new law also protects employees. Until now, employers were entitled to obtain criminal records of job applicants from the police. This will no longer be permitted. Employers will be now be precluded from obtaining the criminal records of job applicants.

On March 16, 22 demonstrators were arrested at a demonstration in the Jerusalem neigborhood of East Talpiot after they clashed with police at the entrance to the Arab village of Jabal Mukhaber. Demonstrators gathered at the village to destroy the house of the terrorist who had murdered eight young students at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Earlier, Jerusalem Magistrates Court Judge Haim Li-Ran ordered police to release six right-wing protesters who had gathered on the promenade at East Talpiot. Li-Ran ruled that the police violated the demonstrators' civil rights to non-violent protest.

The Jerusalem District Court has rejected the plea by two Jewish security guards to appeal to the Supreme Court against their conviction and sentence for firing toward Arab attackers in the West Bank. The court rejected the appeal by Dan and Yitzhak Halamish who were ordered to begin serving their sentences of eight months and seven months respectively at the beginning of April. The Halamish brothers were members of a security team trained, equipped and supervised by the Israel Army to protect Jewish communities in the West Bank. On Feb. 21, 2004, the brothers were summoned by another security officer, Baruch Feldbaum, to help expel Bedouins encamped outside a Jewish community. The Bedouins refused to leave, and about 20 of them surrounded the brothers as well as Feldbaum. Yitzhak Halamish was said to have fired into the air and Feldbaum shot toward the ground. Police failed to conduct an identity parade or ballistics test which would have shown what weapon was fired.

A former Yassam riot police office, Motti Mehager was indicted at the Jerusalem Magistrates Court for brutally beating passive protesters at an anti-government demonstration in the West Bank Jewish community of Amona in February 2006. Mehager was charged with three counts of aggravated assault against unarmed protesters who sat on the floor in one of nine houses slated for demolition by security forces and police. One of the complainants, Yishai Greenberg, said that Mehager beat him with a club for two full minutes on his head, arms and leg, causing him a permanent disability. For his part, Mehager said that he had been ordered to club protesters by his commanding officers. Over 200 passive protesters, mostly youths and two parliamentarians, were injured by police during the demolition.

The Israeli army has confirmed that a Jewish settler shot at an Arab mob in self-defense near the West Bank Jewish community of Neria on March 2. The settler was walking near Neria when a mob of more than 30 Arabs from the neighboring village of Mazraa El Kabaliye headed towards him and began bombarding him with rocks and other heavy objects. Fearing a lynch, he first fired in the air and then at their legs. The Arabs claimed that a 17 year-old youth who was injured, later died. Police investigated the settler and also concurred that he acted in self-defense but the incident is still being investigated.

The Knesset has passed the "Shai Dromi" legislation on the first reading. The legislation must pass three readings to be enacted into law. The legislation, named for southern Hebron Hills farmer Shai Dromi who shot a Bedoiun intruder last year, allows for people to avoid criminal prosecution if they perceive a threat to their lives. Dromi was charged with manslaughter.

An Israeli court has ordered Police Commander Ron Yehuda to pay 7,000 Israeli shekels [$1,938] in compensation to two Jewish protesters against the government's expulsion of 16,000 Jews from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank in August 2005. The court convicted Yehuda of brutality against the two, Assaf Yafin and Malchiel Ben Yosef. The court awarded the damages to Yafin and Ben Yosef after the judge rejected the testimony of a key witness, another police office, as being contradictory.

The unit for police complaints has closed the criminal investigation against Border Police Commander Shlomi Even Paz but ordered a disciplinary hearing. During the past year, three complaints wwere filed against the commander for tampering with investigations and destroying evidence of police violence against Jewish protesters at West Bank Jewish outposts, including the previously destroyed community of Homesh. A complaint was also filed against Even Paz by a photographer for the Israeli daily Mekor Rishon, Miri Tzahi. Tzahi said that Even Paz attempted to grab her camera at the Harchivi outpost near Elon Moreh and prevented her from photgraphing police violence despite her press pass.

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has agreed not to indict Jewish protesters, who were arrested at new settlements, after they lodged complaints against police violence. The youths were arrested in October 2007 in the newly established West Bank Jewish community of Shvut Ami, near Kedumim. Two 14 and 15 year-old boys filed a complaint against police officer Abu Salman Aslah, whom they said brutally beat them at the police station. The same exemption from prosecution was reached earlier for young Jewish protesters at the newly-formed community of Maoz Esther.

On Feb. 7, Tel Aviv Magistrates Court Judge Hanan Efrati sentenced former policeman Eran Naim, convicted of aggravated assault against an anti-Disengagement demonstrator, to six months in prison. In November, Efrati sentenced Naim to six months community service but after he failed to report to the authorities, Efrati changed the sentence to prison. Naim was convicted of violently assaulting then 18 year-old Akiva Vitkin, a passive demonstrator, when he inserted his fingers into Vitkin's nostrils and ripped his head back. During the trial, Efrati said Naim was under no threat from Vitkin who did not resist arrest and was subdued on the ground by three other police officers.

On Feb. 3, the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court sentenced Mordechai and Elitzur Harel Levinstein to 40 months and 30 months respectively for planning to block a highway to protest the government's expulsion of 16,000 Jews from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank in August 2005. Judge George Kara sentenced the two brothers, who have already spent eight months in jail, for endangering lives in a public thoroughfare. Kara said that they intended to place an explosive device on the highway. The brothers had planned to set fire to their car on the side of the road but aborted the plan. The brothers plan to appeal the extremely harsh sentence.

Three soldiers from the Hesder-yeshiva army program were sentenced to three weeks after they refused to participate in a course given by a female soldier. The Hesder units are segregated but the army punished the soldiers. IDF officers said that the combat soldiers had refused orders by refusing to participate in the course.

Police arrested a group of seven Breslaver Hassidim after they prayed at Joseph's tomb in Nablus. The Hassidim, who were removed by the army, refused to identify themselves and were brought before a Kfar Saba magistrates court. The judge ordered them to appear before the court again and released them. The Hassidim have since charged the army with neglecting their property. The Hassidim were evicted from the tomb by the army and were forced to abandon their vehicle which was then torched by Arabs.


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