Yitzhar resident sues GSS for libel

Elkana Picard; Photo credit: Facebook page, "We are all Elkana Picard"

Elkana Picard; Photo credit: Facebook page, “We are all Elkana Picard”

Wednesday, June 10, 2020, 11:54 The GSS intentionally publicized a misleadingly cropped and edited photograph of Elkana Picard, a Yitzhar resident who was administratively distanced from his home two years ago. Currently Picard is suing the GSS for 70,000 NIS in compensation over libel and violation of his privacy. The GSS requested that the suit be heard behind closed doors. Jerusalem Magistrates Court Judge Michal Hirschfeld rejected the request.
Approximately two years ago, Elkana Picard, a married Yitzhar resident and the father of two children, was distanced from his home under an administrative order. Picard filed an appeal on the order, which the court partially accepted and ruled that “unequivocal evidence of the direct involvement of the appellant with the acts of violence is lacking.” Despite this, the GSS publicized a photograph of Picard in which he is seen masked, and simultaneously publicized articles claiming violence on the part of masked residents of Yitzhar.
Honenu Attorney Menashe Yado, who is representing Picard, stated that whoever saw the photograph of Picard wearing a mask connected him to violence in Yitzhar. “Anyone who saw Picard in a face mask was taken aback. ‘Now his true face is revealed’, ‘The masked face’, ‘Jewish terrorist’. However that is a lie, a deception, a misleading perception. An impression was formed that Picard presents himself as a social worker but in fact acts violently towards the Palestinians. This is an intentional lie at the expense of his good name.”
The cropped photograph, which was taken from an Arab Facebook page, was photographed during an incident in which thousands of Arabs marched towards Yitzhar, threw rocks at soldiers and Yitzhar residents, and caused an organized mass disturbance. Army forces faced the Arab mob and behind them stood several Yitzhar residents, among them Picard, who covered his face to protect himself from the tear gas the soldiers were using against the Arab rioters.
In an uncut video clip of the incident, Picard is clearly seen not taking part in any violence of any sort. At some point he removed his mask and spoke to one of the policemen at the scene. Yado: “The publication is contemptible, mendacious and portrays Picard as a masked terrorist. It is forbidden to publicize such an ugly lie.”
After Picard filed the suit, the GSS requested that the deliberations be held behind closed doors because otherwise “information the publication of which is legally forbidden is liable to be revealed.” Jerusalem Magistrates Court Judge Michal Hirschfeld rejected the request, and stated that, “The principle of an open deliberation is a fundamental principle in our [legal] system. There are no grounds to violate the principle now solely out of concern that there might be grounds to do so in the future. The request to hold the deliberation behind closed doors is rejected.”
Honenu Attorney Menashe Yado, who is representing Elkana Picard, welcomed the publicization of the case: “We are pleased that the [Jerusalem Magistrates] Court rejected the request by the GSS to hold the deliberation behind closed doors. The main purpose of the deliberation is to present to the [Jerusalem Magistrates] Court and to the public the fact that the GSS publicized an out-of-context photograph of Picard, in a manner which intentionally created an erroneous impression on the general public that he was masked and violent. The context was completely different, as we will prove in court.
“When a deliberation takes place publicly, things become clear, in a legal sense and in a general sense. It is important to maintain the freedom and the dignity of Yehuda and Shomron residents, of which they are deprived by means of administrative detention orders and then by a sort of ‘administrative propaganda’ which conceals more than it reveals. This is what happened in this incident and therefore the suit was filed.”

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