State Attorney's Office persists: Border policeman is not a victim of terror


Honenu Attorney Ophir Steiner; Photo credit: Honenu

Friday, August 26, 2022, 12:50 Why is the State Attorney's Office determined to appeal the Jerusalem District Court's decision that a border policeman who was injured in action is a victim of terror? Approximately one year ago, during an operational activity that included arrests in the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem, a border policeman, a member of a minority group from the north of Israel, was injured by rioting Arabs who threw rocks and roof tiles at the border policemen. The injured border policeman was rushed to the hospital suffering from facial bleeding, a broken nose, and a deep cut. Three days later, the perpetrator was apprehended, sentenced to four years' imprisonment, and obligated to pay the border policeman 10,000 NIS in compensation.


Subsequently, Honenu Attorney Ophir Steiner filed a civil suit for damages on behalf of the border policeman and requested the reduction in court fees granted to victims of terror according to paragraph 3a of the Court Regulations, which states that a victim of hostility or terror will pay a reduced fee. Surprisingly, the State Attorney's Office objected to the fee reduction and reasoned that "there is no basis for the claim that the acts were racially motivated… There is no basis to rule that this was an act of terror." Jerusalem District Court Registrar Penina Neuwirth rejected the objection and ruled that "the justifications for the request are sufficient to prove that the acts described constitute an act of terror that grants the plaintiff a reduced fee."


However, this is not the end of the story: The State Attorney's Office was not satisfied with the Jerusalem District Court's ruling and decided to appeal it in an attempt to convince the court that the act of throwing objects from a roof at border policemen during an operational activity, an arrest, is not an act of terror. The appeal opens by stating that "the appeal concerns a fundamental and broad matter that is likely to have significant extra-judicial ramifications, which go beyond the bounds of the legal discussion in this suit specifically." Justifications for the appeal include: "The respondent did not set down a sufficient factual foundation, not even prima facie, for his claim that the acts of the defendant were 'nationalistically motivated,' or that it was an act of terror or an act of hostility."


Honenu Attorney Ophir Steiner, who is representing the plaintiff, stated "The State Attorney's Office found it correct, in an unusual step, to appeal the decision by the Jerusalem District Court Registrar on the matter of court fees in a civil suit of a victim of terror, after a ruling was already handed down in the case. The State Attorney's Office ascribed the need for the unusual appeal to "significant extra-judicial ramifications, which go beyond the bounds of the legal discussion in this suit.' Extra-judicial, in other words, they are not relevant to the legal discussion in this suit. We regret that the State Attorney's Office took this step, which is liable to lead to the harming of a soldier or policeman due to considerations that do not concern him. We will continue to defend the border policeman."

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