Tuesday, December 26, 2017, 9:04 The Central Investigation and Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture has re-opened the investigation of serious injury caused by the Civil Administration to a flock of sheep during the course of their confiscation from Givat HaBaladim, an outpost adjacent to Kochar HaShahar. See video clip below; video credit: Elchanan Albert.
On the night of November 1, 2015, without prior warning, Civil Administration personnel, accompanied by policemen and soldiers, dismantled two residential structures and confiscated the flock. The security forces presented a closed military zone order from the year 1999, classifying the site as being located in a firing range. The owners of the flock had been willing to voluntarily evacuate, in order to prevent injury to the flock, however the commander of the security forces refused their request.
The Civil Administration hired a private company to transport the flock, which brought a small truck onto which the sheep were loaded by hand without a ramp. The sheep were lifted by their horns, which caused serious head injuries, and then overcrowded on the truck to the point of suffocation. 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.
In November 2017, with the assistance of Honenu, the owner of the flock and his partner sued the Civil Administration for major damage caused to their sheep. The statement of claim includes a description of the damage caused to the flock, and evaluations by a veterinarian and an appraiser: “The actions of the defendants caused severe trauma to the flock, which drastically reduced its productivity, damaged the development of the sheep and also caused injury to individual sheep in the flock.”
Shortly after the confiscation the veterinarian who had treated the injured flock filed a complaint with the Central Investigation and Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture. Honenu has been following the process and recently discovered that the file was closed without an effective investigation being carried out. In late November 2017, with the assistance of Honenu, the owner of the flock and his partner sued the Civil Administration for major damage caused to their sheep. The sum total of the direct and indirect monetary damage to the flock, according to the evaluation of the appraiser, for which the plaintiffs are demanding compensation, is 78,000 NIS. In early December 2017, after not receiving any response from the Central Investigation and Enforcement Unit, Honenu filed an urgent request demanding that the incident be investigated:
“In light of the seriousness of the evidence and the clarification of the evidence, and the appraisal of the damages brought in the statement of claim, there is no option other than to conduct a thorough criminal investigation, even if it is unfortunately two years late.
“The law and the authority to enforce the law with which you are entrusted are meant to protect animals from whomever the criminal may be. Moreover, the criminal action and cruelty towards animals and their owners, caused by individuals considered representatives of the law, sends a message to the public of disregard for cruelty to animals and for the suffering caused to their owners.”
On the day after the letter was sent, Honenu received a notice from the Central Investigation and Enforcement Unit that the investigation has been reopened. Testimonies will be taken from eye-witnesses.
Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher stated that, “We sincerely hope that this time, despite the two-year delay, the investigation will be complete and that criminal action will be taken against those who injured the flock illegally and immorally.”