Policemen without badges uprooted Yitzhar vineyard
Wednesday, January 4, 2023, 9:14 Honenu Attorney Eladi Weisel wrote a letter to the Yehuda and Shomron District Police Commander and the Public Complaints Officer of the Yehuda and Shomron District Police demanding that they investigate why border policemen who destroyed a vineyard in Yitzhar on Monday were not wearing badges as is required by law. Dozens of border policemen and Civil Administration personnel uprooted a vineyard belonging to a Yitzhar resident under the authority of a "disruptive use of private land order". Yitzhar residents protested the destruction, and five of them were detained for interrogation on suspicion of violating a closed military zone order.
Honenu Attorney Eladi Weisel stated in reaction to the incident, "Unfortunately, this is not the first time that we have encountered an instance of badge removal. This disturbing phenomenon undermines explicit provisions of law and negatively skews the balance of power between civilians and policemen. A police force numbering many dozens of policemen who are violating their obligation to wear a badge shows blatant contempt for the provisions of law."
The letter Weisel wrote is summarized below:
The border policemen seriously violated an obligation set in primary legislation, in an explicit order under the command of the police, and mentioned in many police regulations. The many photographs and video clips documenting the incident show that the policemen sent to uproot the vineyard at the entrance to Yitzhar did not wear badges as required. It should be emphasized that this was not an error by chance by a policeman or two out of the entire police force. If it had been, then one might think that there had been an isolated mistake rather than a violation by the entire police force. Even the commander was documented at the scene not wearing a badge.
The collective violation gives a strong impression that the policemen received instructions to come to this operation not wearing their badges. They crudely trampled the law while severely violating the rights of the local residents who came to protest the uprooting and found themselves standing in front of anonymous policemen. The residents had no means of knowing the identities of the policemen who used undue force on them.
The requirement to wear an identifying badge is intended to deter policemen from abusing their authority and to remind them that "there is justice and there is a judge". In this incident, the aim could not be achieved. As is apparent from the eyewitness testimonies and the documentation that we received from the scene of the uprooting, the policemen allowed themselves to "enjoy" their anonymity and to act in an unrestrained and disproportionate manner with the protesters, because they knew that whoever would be injured by their brutality would find it difficult to verify their identities and to bring them to trial. This is illegal and disturbing conduct. In light of the above-mentioned, I demand a thorough examination to discover who ordered the policemen to violate the law. The commander of the force and anyone who ordered the policemen not to wear their badges must be put on disciplinary trial.