Civil Rights Violations during the “Disengagement” period

50-page report

The 50 page report is authored by Dr. Yitzhak Klein, director of The Israel Policy Center; Shmuel Meidad, founder and director of Honenu, and attorney Itzik Bam. It can be downloaded by clicking on the report icon to the left.

A particularly poignant Honenu case from the summer of 2005 is that of Chaya Belogorodsky, then 14 years old. Her drama began when she took part in a nonviolent demonstration against the expulsion. After watching two friends get arrested, she walked over to the police van to see how they were faring. As she stood nearby, a police officer told her to leave. When Belogorodsky replied that she was permitted by law to stand on the sidewalk, she was arrested for insulting a police officer.

7500 were arrested protesting the expulsion.

The nightmare was now in full swing. Belogorodsky was placed in solitary confinement for five days. A hole in the ground served as a toilet; there was no shower, no toilet paper, no running water. She was also not permitted visits or phone calls. On Shabbat, the guards shut off the lights, guessing correctly that, as a religious Jew, she would not turn them back on. Belogorodsky spent that Shabbat in the dark. Because of the lack of kashrut supervision, she also avoided most of the food served. The “system” tried to break the spirits of hundreds of youngsters like her, aiming to discourage others from future protests.

When the five days had ended, Belogorodsky was moved to a regular prison cell. She was now granted one hour each day outside her cell for exercise and phone calls home. Her family was permitted a 30-minute visit once a week. Older girls in prison on similar charges were strip-searched after each family visit, ostensibly so prison authorities could find hidden drugs.

Belogorodsky’s father called Honenu. The prosecution wanted her remanded until trial, which at that point could have been months away. Honenu’s lawyers took the case to the Supreme Court, where Judge Ayala Procaccia, a strong advocate for government crackdown on dissenters, accepted the prosecution’s arguments that teenage Belogorodsky was an “ideologically motivated criminal” who could negatively influence others even in house arrest. The prosecution was willing to allow her to be released to a kibbutz, saying it would be a “good educational experience for her.” Belogorodsky and her parents refused on religious grounds.

As Belogorodsky’s days in jail grew to 40, public pressure on the State intensified. Eventually, the justice system relented and allowed her to return home. Belogorodsky’s father credits Honenu with extricating her from the nightmare.

Vitkin attacked by the police at a non violent protest

Akiva Vitkin’s story also began at a non-violent protest. As the 19-year-old sat in the streets of Ramat Gan protesting the expulsion, three police officers sat on top of him and pretended to handcuff him. “Another police officer approached Akiva from behind, leaned towards his head, stuck his fingers in Akiva’s nostrils and pulled violently upwards and backwards,” Tuvia Lerner of National News Network recalls. “Akiva was dragged to a police car while he was bleeding from his nose and eyes.” Lerner had stopped his car nearby and caught the shocking incident on film.

At the Ramat Gan police station afterwards, Vitkin was taken into a room where a witness observed four policemen beating him with their fists and knocking him to the floor before the door was closed. Akiva emerged with his face swollen and bloody, barely able to walk.

Belogorodsky and Vitkin are not alone. Their stories are recorded among dozens of others in a 50-page report entitled Israeli Government Violations of Disengagement Opponents’ Civil Rights. The devastating indictment against the Israeli leadership documents 165 cases of unlawful use of pretrial detention, declared immunity for police brutality, false arrest, torture, and use of General Security Services (GSS) for cases of unarmed civil disobedience.