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Suit filed over interrogation in shower

Tuesday, July 11, 2017, 14:15 On behalf of a Yitzhar yeshiva student, Honenu filed a 30,000 NIS suit with the Jerusalem Magistrate Court against policemen from the Central Unit of the Yehuda and Shomron Police. The grounds for the suit are violation of privacy and sexual harassment following the entrance of policemen to the Yitzhar mikva in order to demand the complainant’s ID card while he was naked in the shower. The incident occurred on April 30, 2017, when policemen carrying out an operation in Yitzhar entered the mens’ mikva in search of a suspect. The yeshiva student described his encounter with the policemen: “I went to the mikva to immerse before early morning prayers and suddenly in the shower, the curtain was opened and a Yassam policeman shined a flashlight at me and demanded my ID card. I told him, ‘Are you crazy? Do I shower with my ID card’? “He left. I expected him to wait for me outside of the mikva. I immersed and went to the dressing room with a towel covering myself. He was waiting for me there and took my personal information. Only after that did he allow me to get dressed. It was an embarrassing and humiliating experience. Their conduct was inhumane and insulting.” In the statement of claim filed by Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher with the Jerusalem Magistrate Court he stated that, “Many red lines have been crossed concerning the violation of privacy rights and human dignity, for which there was neither cause nor need.” Also in the claim Bleicher stated that entering a place such as a mikva in which people are generally not clothed exacerbates the violation and the policemen should have used better judgment before they abruptly entered the site in an manner which would definitely violate the privacy of the people present. Bleicher described the repeated violations of privacy during the incident: “After the policemen discerned the presence of the complainant, who was completely naked at the time, they shined a flashlight on him and demanded his ID card, which increased the humiliation and the severity of the sexual harassment.” … “Also after the complainant left the shower the policemen began to interrogate him and verify his identity without allowing him time to get organized and get dressed according to the norms of human decency.” The entire incident transpired in the mikva building in the presence of other men in addition to the complainant. In the end the policemen determined that the student was not the suspect for whom they were searching and left him alone. The complainant and his attorneys are of the opinion that the conduct of the policemen indicates, “An ingrained presence of inappropriate norms among the security forces regarding their treatment of the residents of Yitzhar and the surrounding area, which were evident in this incident due to the hurtful and humiliating conduct.” After the incident a complaint was filed with the Yehuda and Shomron District Police Headquarters. However it was rejected by the police and in response Honenu filed a suit on behalf of the complainant. Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher, who is representing the complainant stated that, “It is important that the laws of human rights, individual rights and certainly the right to privacy are kept regarding all citizens, including Yitzhar residents.” … “There is no cause for their rights to be trampled. It is important that the policemen understand and admit this, and also that if they want to fulfill their duties, they carry them out in accordance with the law, in a manner which respects individuals and does not harm citizens. When there is an extreme deviation from appropriate conduct, we have no choice other than to file suit and compensate the injured individuals. We hope that [the ramifications of] this incident will serve as a deterrent.”

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