The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ruled Friday that the State must pay extreme right-wing activists Itamar Ben-Gvir, Baruch Ben-Yosef and Israel Bramnson NIS 4,500 (approx. $1,300) each in restitution, after they were unduly arrested while celebrating the death of former Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, back in 2004.
The three were arrested in November of 2004 at Jerusalem's Paris Square, after staging a celebratory barbeque "in honor" of the news of Arafat's death. Police forces who were called to the scene asked Ben-Gvir and his companions to vacate the premises, but they refused and were subsequently taken into questioning and held for three hours.
The three later filed a wrongful arrest suit against the State and the Police, claiming they had the right to express their opinion in public and that their presence in the square did not pose a risk to anyone. Ben-Gvir demanded all three would be compensated to the amount of NIS 12,000 (approx. $3,400).
Celebrating in Paris Square in 2004 (Archive Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The State, however, claimed that the three were disorderly and that the gathering was not properly cleared with the police. The three and their followers, said the State, were causing a public disturbance by slowing and disrupting traffic around the square, honking their car horns and scouting out various slogans.
Judge Arie Romanoff, who presided over the hearing, found the State's claims to be unfounded, saying the gathering could not have been comprised of more than a few dozen people, who did not block any roads or clashed with the police or each other.
"The venue in which the plaintiffs chose to express their joy is one of the city's hubs and is no stranger to rallies and demonstrations," he wrote. The three, added Judge Romanoff committed no crime, giving the police no reason to detain them – as proven by the fact that they were eventually released.