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Court ruled against the State, border policeman is victim of terror

Silwan (illustrative purposes only); Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Tuesday, July 26, 2022, 11:19 Despite the initial decision by the State of Israel, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that an injury to a border policeman during an operational activity constitutes an act of terror. The border policeman filed a civil suit against an Arab who injured him during an operational activity and also filed a request to be granted the reduction in court fees granted by law to a victim of terror. To his surprise, the State of Israel replied that his injury was not caused during a terror incident and did not accept the explanations of his attorney. The Jerusalem District Court overturned the decision.

The attack occurred during an operational activity in the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem. A terrorist ambushed border policemen and threw rocks, roof tiles, and other objects at them from the roof of a house. A border policeman, S., was injured in his face by a roof tile. He was rushed to Sha'arei Tzedek Hospital and given medical treatment under partial anesthesia.

The terrorist was arrested, brought to trial, and convicted of aggravated assault, disturbing a policeman in the line of duty, and making threats. After the criminal conviction, Honenu assisted S. with filing a civil suit against the terrorist. S. demanded 180,000 NIS in compensation for damages to him and his family and requested the reduction in court fees granted to victims of terror. He was surprised by the reply from the State of Israel that he was not eligible for the reduction.

In their reply, the State claimed that "the acts of which the defendant (the terrorist) was convicted are certainly serious, and were done with the aim of injuring security forces and disturbing them in their line of duty. However, at this time, there is no basis for this being an act of terror or hostility."

Honenu Attorney Ophir Steiner, who is representing S., replied to the State with a detailed response taking into account all of the circumstances of the incident and explaining that it does fit the legal definition of an act of terror. Steiner reiterated that the terrorist threw rocks at border policemen in uniform who were at the site to carry out an arrest and that there was no connection between the terrorist and the individual whom the border policemen were apprehending. The terrorist intended to interfere with the completion of the task that was imposed on the border policemen by the security authorities of the State. Also, the terrorist posed a clear and present danger to them and could have seriously injured them.

Even after examining the border policeman's claims, the State of Israel continued to adhere to their position and repeated that the terrorist's actions did not constitute an act of terror or hostility. The Jerusalem District Court ruled contrary to the State's opinion. The decision reads in part: "The reasons given in the request (by the border policeman) are enough to prove that indeed the acts of the respondent (the terrorist) described constitute an act of terror or hostility, which grants the claimant a reduction in court fees. [Taking into account] all of the circumstances of the incident, the context in which the injury was caused – during an operational activity to arrest a suspect – and the manner in which it was caused – throwing objects at the border police forces from a rooftop – likewise the fact that there was no connection between the defendant and the suspect being arrested, there is a foundation to the injury being caused by the act attributed to the defendant, in such a manner that fits the definition of an act of terror."

Honenu Attorney Ophir Steiner, who is representing S.: "We welcome the Jerusalem District Court's decision, which was handed down despite the stance of the State of Israel. A soldier sent by the government to a combat zone, to a life-threatening situation, must believe in the justice of his way and know that the state will support him if he is injured. Therefore it is difficult to accept the position of the state, according to which someone who attacks a soldier during an operational activity only with the intent of thwarting the activity and injuring the soldiers, is not a terrorist. We are pleased that the court rectified the injustice of the state's response and supported a soldier who sued for damages directly from those who injured them."

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