Civil Administration not penalized for flock damage

Wednesday, December 19, 2018, 14:50 In November 2015, security forces raided the Givat HaBaladim outpost near Kochav Ya’akov and confiscated a flock of sheep, severely injuring them in the process. The owners of the flock filed a complaint against the Civil Administration, the authority responsible for the confiscation, which was closed, but later re-opened thanks to a request from Honenu. Now the contractor who transported the flock has received an administrative fine. However the Civil Administration has not been penalized. Honenu has filed a request to receive the investigatory material and is considering filing an appeal on the decision. Also, in addition to the complaint, the owners of the flock filed a civil suit against the Civil Administration, in which they described the severe injuries caused by the brutal transport.

Video: Brutal transport of the flock; Video credit: Elchanan Albert.
On the night of November 1, 2015, policemen, soldiers and Civil Administration personnel along with a private company brought to transport a flock of ewes owned by one of the residents raided the Givat HaBaladim outpost near Kochav Ya’akov and evacuated the site. The security forces dismantled two residential buildings and confiscated a large amount of equipment. A family with two children and a group of unmarried men who resided at the site were removed.
Initially the security forces refused to present an order. In the end they presented a closed military zone order, declaring the site a ‘firing range’, from the year 1999, signed by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, then GOC of the Central Command. The Givat HaBaladim residents who have been living there for three years say that they had never been presented with the order, which was signed almost 17 years ago.
The flock was loaded onto a small truck, by hand without a ramp, and with complete disregard for the laws of animal transport. The sheep were lifted by their horns, which caused serious head injuries, and then overcrowded on the truck to the point of suffocation, despite warnings from the owners of the flock and their attempts to prevent the brutal transport. The owners of the flock requested permission to voluntarily evacuate, so that they could properly transport their flock and several structures, but the Civil Administration refused and handcuffed them, which facilitated further injury to the flock.
A District Coordination and Liaison Administration officer later reported that two ewes died during transport. A third died shortly thereafter. Many pregnant ewes miscarried due to the severe overcrowding and overloading of the truck and dozens of lambs were separated from their mothers and therefore not able to nurse.
The day after the flock was confiscated the owners of the flock, with the assistance of their veterinarian, Dr. Doni Zivotofsky, filed a complaint with the Central Investigation and Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture against the Civil Administration. Zivotofsky stated that this was “a serious case of cruelty to animals. An investigation should be opened against the company that improperly and brutally transported the flock, caused the death of animals and separated mothers from their young.”
Zivotofsky added to the complaint: “The individuals in the Civil Administration, the police and the army responsible for and involved [with the transport] should also be investigated. In a state with such strict laws of cruelty to animals, to the point where the Supreme Court does not allow cats to be transferred from one neighborhood to another in the same city, it is unthinkable that representatives of the government would commit such cruelty to animals.”
Despite the points raised in the complaint, after repeated requests by Honenu it turned out that the complaint had been closed. Only after the Central Investigation and Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture was informed that the incident had been filmed was the investigation re-opened. The outcome of the renewed investigation is a fine imposed on the contractor who transported the flock in his truck. The Civil Administration has not taken any responsibility for the incident.
Now Honenu has requested the investigatory material in the case, is considering filing an appeal on the decision not to impose a fine on the Civil Administration, and also is demanding to examine why those responsible for the transport, both the representatives from the Civil Administration and the contractor who actually transported the flock, were not tried in a criminal trial.
Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher, who is representing the owners of the flock, stated: “In order to penalize the residents for wanting to settle the Land of Israel, the Civil Administration severely and cruelly injured animals, despite the warnings and pleas of the owners of the flock to stop. The owners of the flock added that if they had been informed ahead of time about the evacuation, they would have transferred the flock themselves in a suitable manner.
“The Civil Administration personnel and the police who are responsible for enforcing the law knowingly acted illegally and against basic ethics, injuring and harming animals unnecessarily. The fine imposed proves what we have asserted for more than two years: This was an injustice and a violation of the law. We will continue to protect the rights of animals, also when they belong to residents of Yehuda and Shomron.”

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