Jerusalem judge takes word of Palestinian over that of Israeli army, cops, settlers

East Jerusalem resident acquitted on assault charges from April 2009 after judge convinced that police, soldiers, settlers gave false accounts of events.

By Yaniv Kubovich | Haaretz | Jun. 29, 2015 |

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Sunday acquitted an East Jerusalem resident of assault, after the judge was convinced that the police, soldiers and West Bank settlers testifying against the man had given false accounts of the events.

“After I heard the witnesses, and after reviewing the written evidence, I decided to acquit the defendant. I reached the conclusion that there is no reason to trust the prosecution’s witnesses’ testimony, while the defendant appeared to the court to be trustworthy, from his account of the events until this day,” Judge Dov Pollock wrote in his ruling.

In April 2009, 45-year-old East Jerusalem resident Monhand Anati, along with his 75-year-old father, traveled to an agricultural field they own near the settlement of Beit El. The two returned to the plot to work there after years of not being allowed to by Israeli security forces. During those years, the area had become a popular tourist spot for Beit El residents, who frequented a well there.

After returning to their land, Anati and his father asked the settlers to stop entering the plot, explaining that it is land that they own. One day, Anati and his father arrived at the land at the same time as seven Beit El residents. They asked the settlers not to enter, as they would harm the crops.

“The tourists” pushed Anati and went into the well. An argument began between the two sides, and Anati’s father picked up a gardening tool. Anati saw the tool in his father’s hands, and immediately took it from him and placed it to the side. At the same time, he approached a nearby IDF checkpoint and called out to the soldiers, “Help, they’re attacking us.”

Anati understood that he would not be able to overcome the settlers, and decided to call the police. This was the fifth time Anati had contacted the police about the issue. Three complaint files he had opened were closed due to lack of evidence, and the other file was closed under similar circumstances, but Anati decided to try his luck a fifth time. The settlers understood that the police were en route, and decided to return to their vehicles.

Anati tried to film them with his cellular phone, but quickly found himself surrounded by soldiers who confiscated his phone, handcuffed him, and sat him there for an hour and a half until the police showed up. When they did, the settlers decided to file a complaint against him, according to which “he took the tool from his father and waved it over the head of a minor… while threatening to murder them if they didn’t leave.”

The police accepted the settlers’ and soldiers’ version of the story, despite the fact that Anati was the one who had called the police, and called out to the soldiers for help. Anati was indicted months later. The police officers, soldiers and settlers arrived in court to testify about what happened that day.

On Sunday, six years after the events, Pollock acquitted Anati. Attorney Haim Yitzhaki, Anati’s defense lawyer, said in response, “While reviewing the file it became clear that the account provided by the plaintiff, his family and the soldier was not in line with reality, unlike the defendant’s claims. I am glad the court has done justice and acquitted the defendant.”