Minors filmed immersing in spring awarded 40,000 NIS compensation

Monday, April 11, 2022, 15:37 The Jerusalem Magistrates Court awarded compensation to three boys who were filmed naked by border policemen as they immersed in a spring frequently used as a mikveh (ritual bath) near Yitzhar in June 2018. Deputy President of the Jerusalem Magistrates Court, Judge Mordechai Burstyn, accepted the claims of the boys of invasion of privacy and of the violation of the right to privacy. Judge Burstyn awarded each plaintiff 10,000 NIS, plus 10,000 NIS in legal expenses, a total of 40,000 NIS. Honenu Attorney Menashe Yado is representing the boys.

In his decision, Judge Burstyn leveled criticism at the policemen for the conduct during and after the incident: “A police action report was not prepared, and additionally, one of the policemen confirmed that they had coordinated testimonies. Thus stated one of the policemen to the PIU [Police Investigation Unit]: ‘He wrote to me in Arabic, but with Hebrew letters, that the second version is the correct one, and I should remember it.’ That admission is enough to render the testimonies of the policemen significantly defective.”

With regard to filming the boys naked, Judge Burstyn stated, “Despite the fact that the policeman was aware of the minors’ situation – the time necessary to get dressed and the fact that they were not dressed – the policeman continued to make use of the operational camera. There was no need or urgency to reenter the site and there was also no danger posed that justified an additional entrance. … The additional and superfluous filming substantially deviated from the required conduct, while disregarding the rights of the minors.” (See below for details of the incident.)

Honenu Attorney Yado: “A recording of three 12.5-13-year-old boys completely naked as they immerse in the spring-mikveh near Yitzhar is not what an operational camera in the Yehuda and Shomron Police is supposed to show.

“We did not hear any denunciation of the shameful conduct from either the Police Commissioner or the Internal Security Minister about their policemen. We did not see any indictments from the PIU [Police Investigation Unit] – not about them filming completely naked boys and not about their coordinating testimonies and disrupting legal proceedings while under interrogation. No substantial indictment was filed and no substantial sanctions of any kind were imposed on them. The Jerusalem District Attorney defended filming the boys naked until we received, after three years of legal battle, a ruling that finally explicitly states that there was no justification to film the minors naked,” concluded Yado.

Details of the incident

The incident occurred on June 7, 2018, when three boys, two 13-year-olds and one 12-and-a-half-year-old, went down to a spring just outside of Yitzhar. One of the boys brought his dog on a stretchy leash, which blocked the road leading to the site. A border police Jeep appeared behind the boys and the driver honked, signaling them to clear the passage. The boys pulled the dog towards them to open the road and ran to the spring.

The spring is hidden from public view, shielded by an opaque shade cloth and serves as a “private place in which it is possible to get undressed before immersing,” as stated in the suit, which was filed by Honenu Attorney Menashe Yado on behalf of the boys. The suit further states that, “The boys undressed and entered the spring to immerse themselves. Suddenly they noticed two border policemen who had come under the shade cloth shielding the spring and were filming them with their personal cell phones and an additional camera. The boys flattened themselves against the wall of the spring in order to hide from the cameras, and asked the policemen to leave and allow them to get dressed and speak to them outside of the spring.”

The policemen agreed to leave the area of the spring, and told the boys that they had “a minute” to get dressed and leave the area of the spring. However, the policemen returned quickly, after the boys had gotten out of the spring, but before they had finished getting dressed.

“The boys tried to hide their bodies and their faces with their hands and their towels, and asked the policemen to stop filming them naked. The policemen told the boys that they just wanted to film their faces. The entire conversation was conducted in front of the cameras recording the undressed minors.” In the video clip which Yado obtained, the boys are heard pleading, “Why are you filming? No, we are naked! Could you leave? Wait, wait!” The policeman asked them, “Could you put on your underwear and I’ll film you?” The boys answered, “Yes. Leave, leave.” Afterwards the policeman filmed them again, before they had gotten dressed. The boys hid and asked, “Why, but why?” The policeman answered, “I’m required.” The boys replied, “We’re naked. Come on, could you leave?”

Honenu Attorney Menashe Yado: “The internal review authorities in the border police accepted the complaint that we filed at the time against the border policemen, but that is not enough. The border police must compensate the minors whose privacy and rights were violated, and issue new guidelines to the policemen who come into contact with the residents of Yitzhar.”

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