Temple Mount activist awarded 32,000 NIS compensation

Thursday, February 11, 2016, 10:33 Jerusalem Magistrate Court Judge Dorit Feinstein ruled that the State of Israel will compensate a Temple Mount activist with the sum of 32,000 NIS. The ruling was given in the framework of a civil suit filed for illegal searches and detentions carried out by policemen and prison guards. The two incidents which occurred several days apart in June 2013 included searches and prolonged detentions, after the activist was detained while praying at one of the gates to the Temple Mount. The first incident occurred when the activist prayed at noon on a Friday near the Cotton Merchants’ Gate, the gate located opposite the Holy of Holies. Muslims who were leaving the Temple Mount began to curse him and an Arab child kicked him. The activist kicked the child in response and was detained by nearby policemen. After interrogating the activist the policemen requested his release on condition of banning him from entering the Temple Mount for 15 days, but he refused to accept the condition. Even though he had been detained five hours before the onset of Shabbat, and there was sufficient time to bring him to a deliberation before Shabbat as the law requires, the police chose to leave him in remand over Shabbat. On Saturday night, after Shabbat, the detainee was brought to a deliberation and conditionally released until another deliberation was held two days later. During his remand the detainee was strip-searched by prison guards, despite his objection. Judge Feinstein ruled that there had been no grounds for the strip-search, rather only for a search of his clothes, as the regulations instruct. Judge Feinstein also ruled that there were no grounds for leaving him in remand over Shabbat instead of releasing him on condition of appearing later at a deliberation. Judge Feinstein awarded him 8,000 NIS for the illegal strip-search and 5,500 NIS for the illegal remand. The second incident occurred several days later when the activist walked around the walls of the Old City by himself, on the “Circling the Gates” route customarily walked by groups on the first day of the Hebrew month, and prayed outside of one of the gates to the Temple Mount. A group of Arabs who had begun to gather outside of one of the gates started to yell at him and argue with him. After several minutes the activist relented and with a police escort moved to the nearby Tribes Gate. Also at the Tribes Gate a small group of Arabs began to gather. The police then decided to detain the activist and handcuffed him. According to the policemen the activist cursed them, however Judge Feinstein ruled on the basis of security camera footage that “There is no evidence that the plaintiff was wild or behaved violently.” Judge Feinstein rejected the police claim that the plaintiff was handcuffed because “he was jumpy” and wrote that the claim “does not stand up to the test of legality”. The judge added that there was no cause to keep the plaintiff in remand and to bring him to court as a detainee and also that, “the judgment of the police was not balanced and reasonable and therefore the remand was not legal”. Additionally an illegal search was carried out on his body and therefore the judge ordered that he be compensated with 5,500 NIS for the illegal remand and 6,000 NIS for the illegal search, which was not a complete strip-search this time. The plaintiff was also awarded 7,000 NIS for legal expenses, including attorney fees. In total the compensation is 32,000 NIS. During the trial, serious flaws in the Prison Service were revealed when a senior officer testified that the prison guards carry out strip-searches in an illegal manner, despite the regulations which instruct that a search should be carried out on outer clothing only, other than under unusual circumstances in which there is a substantial reason to suspect the detainee. Judge Feinstein called on the State to either clarify or change the regulations concerning all aspects of searches in Prison Service facilities. “In my opinion the prison guards are not capable of exercising proper discretion concerning all aspects of searches, if they do not know what a prisoner is suspected of and under which circumstances a prisoner is being brought before them,” wrote the judge. “It would be proper for the State to consider amending or clarifying the regulations again, in order to allow genuine and proportional discretion to be exercised in each individual case.” Honenu Attorney Menasheh Yado, who represented the activist, stated that, “This suit was filed by Attorney Itamar Ben Gvir and for technical reasons was transferred to my care. The civil suit did not only yield compensation for the injury to a citizen but also once again revealed serious deficiencies in the actions of the Prison Service and the police, deficiencies which unfortunately are not taken care of by the internal inspection authorities, but rather backed by senior officers and allowed to continue on a daily basis.”

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