Yoshvaev petitions court to lift siege from their house


Tal Yoshvaev; Photo credit: Honenu

Sunday, March 6, 2022, 17:03 Weeks after the police set up barriers surrounding the Yoshvaevs' house in the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood, effectively placing it under siege, Honenu filed a petition with the High Court of Justice on behalf of the family against the decision to deny access to the house to family, friends and all visitors. In contrast, guests of neighboring non-Jewish residents are able to enter their homes through back entrances, whereas that option is denied to the Jewish Yoshvaev family.‏Honenu Attorneys Moshe Poleski and Ophir Steiner filed the petition demanding that the police be ordered to let the Yoshvaev family lead normal lives in their own home. In conclusion, they demanded that the High Court of Justice hand down an interim order to lift the siege.

Steiner: "We petitioned the High Court of Justice so that they would give urgent assistance to a citizen [Tal Yoshvaev] whose private home, in which he lives with his wife and two very young children, was placed under siege by the Israel Police. The petitioner is trying to repair his house after it was set on fire by violent assailants and return his household to its normal routine. However, the Israel Police are not allowing the family's friends and relatives to come to their house and provide assistance. Thus, the young family is forced to pick up the pieces by themselves. We demand that the High Court of Justice exercise its authority and stop the extreme damage to the petitioner and his family. The Israel Police is expected to enforce the law against violent elements, and not to limit the freedom of citizens with sweeping measures."

The petition is summarized below:

On February 11, 2022, a Shabbat evening, violent assailants set fire to the home of the petitioner. The flames took hold of the walls of the house, completely destroying the family's property in their path. The family was miraculously saved because they were at their parents' house for Shabbat. When they returned home, they were forced to cope with the sight of their burnt house and the loss of their belongings. It is difficult to describe in words their feelings, especially those of the mother looking at her baby's charred cradle.

In response to the arson, Knesset Member Itamar Ben Gvir officially set up his office in the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood. Later, due to continuing clashes in the area, the police increased their presence. On February 13, 2022, the Yoshvaevs discovered that access to their house had been restricted.

Initially, nothing was explicitly said, but as the days passed, the policemen began to share with visitors to the area the orders that they had received. The policemen explained to everyone who attempted to reach the house that the residents of the house [the Yoshvaev family] – and only they – are permitted to enter. All others are required to leave the site. As more time passed, the family discovered that the police were adamantly refusing to allow anyone to reach their house. Thus, every morning the family woke up to the reality of their besieged house.

This decision by Major-General Doron Yadid and the Israel Police severely harms the Yoshvaev family. Their friends, who previously helped them build a large part of their house, are not able to assist them with repairs. Also workmen whom they hired are repeatedly delayed by the police, sometimes for hours, before they can enter the house and begin their job. This has led to severe difficulties with repairing the great damage caused to the house and its contents. Due to the condition of the house, the family must sleep every night at the wife's parents' house. During the day, Tal and his wife are tasked with reorganizing their home, without any outside help.

Previously, acquaintances regularly visited the family's home and provided important emotional support to them in this extremely tense situation. However, due to their home being closed to all visitors, Yoshvaev family is forced to experience the tense situation, day after day, knowing that they do not have a shoulder to lean on, or an outstretched hand in case of need. For the young couple, their isolated house has turned into a daily reminder of the attempt to injure them, which could have cost them their lives. They are alone in their struggle to maintain a calm household, because the Israel Police, instead of coming to the aid of a family in need of their protection, chose to isolate them from the rest of the world.

By their actions, the police are first and foremost violating the rights of the family to the use of their property, both because they cannot make natural and basic use of it for hosting their friends and relatives, and because repairing the house has become very difficult. Likewise, the family's right to privacy has been violated, because everyone who wants to visit them is delayed by policemen and questioned. Thus, nobody comes and nobody goes without being monitored and documented by the authorities. Their rights to freedom and dignity are also violated, as they are required to either isolate themselves in their home or leave it in order to meet with relatives and friends. Their need to spend nights outside of their house also violates these rights.

The decision by the police to place barriers surrounding the house is not proportional. It does not distinguish between close family and friends, or between friends and strangers and even workmen are delayed for a long time until they are allowed to enter. Furthermore, the situation has been excessively prolonged. Instead of providing a solution, the police chose to give a sweeping, general order that requires fewer resources to enforce. They paid no attention to the suffering of the petitioner and his family.

The police are concerning themselves only with keeping the area quiet. They did not contact the family or make any effort to obtain information about how the situation affected them. Therefore, the police certainly could not balance the need to maintain order with the need to uphold the rights of the family. If they had tried, they could have found a less extreme solution.

The High Court of Justice must hand down an interim order lifting the siege from the Yoshvaevs house.

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