The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ruled recently that police officers who struck a right-wing activist during the evacuation of a West Bank outpost were liable for NIS 4,000 (about $963) in damages.
The incident took place about 18 months ago, as several right-wing activists were attempting to build an outpost near the West Bank settlement of Hashmonaim, near the city of Ramallah. One of the activists, who is currently an Israel Defense Forces soldier, alleged he was attacked by Special Patrol Unit officers with the Judea and Samaria District Police.
The man claimed that one police officer slapped him, while his commander choked him and threatened him.
The settlers documented the event, and the video, with the assistance of the Yesha Council's Human Rights Group, was transferred to the Police Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB).
A subsequent investigation resulted in one of the officers undergoing disciplinary action.
Attorney Benny Levin, who provides legal aid on behalf of Yesha's human rights group, also assisted the man in filing a damages suit against the police officers who assaulted him.
The State Prosecutor's Office argued that the case had no merits, since no harm was caused to the plaintiff, adding that the suit was a part of an ongoing trend, facilitated by the Yesha human rights group, to file charges against police officers. The court denied the argument.
Orit Struck, head of the Yesha human rights group, categorically rebuffed the allegations: "There cannot be a norm where police officers offend and abuse settlers. Even if a person does not suffer any physical injury, this is not something one should experience as part of police procedures. We are not second or third class citizens."
"The State's approach sets a new level for the perception that a public servant is always right, and that being a public official can be used to cover any violent act," added Levin.
The Yesha human rights group, added Struck, "has never filed a suit against police officers duly performing their job, even if we didn’t agree with them, but this kind of norm is not something anyone should experience."