Israel - State sues settlers for NIS 305,000

Israel - In a rare move, the State has decided to settle the score with the settlers who barricaded themselves in the disputed Hebron house and demand that they pay NIS 305,000 (about $82,000) in damages.

The claim was filed, according to the State's Prosecutor's Office, in order "to put an end to hooligans' disregard of the law enforcement authorities."
The Jerusalem Prosecutor's Office filed the lawsuit last week over the costs the State was forced to pay for the evacuation of the disputed building in late 2008.

Associations which chose not to evacuate the compound, despite a High Court ruling, are being sued for the cost of the evacuation, which included massive police and Border Guard forces which engaged in the residents' evacuation and handled disturbances in the West Bank city during the operation.

The State mentioned the High Court's decision to deny a petition filed by the "Tal Construction and Investment Karnei Shomron" company and the "Association for Renewing Jewish Settlement in Hebron."

In the petition, the court was asked to order the State to avoid helping evacuate the disputed house. The court had ruled that the petitioners must evacuate the property and hand it over within three days, completely empty. The court had also ruled that should the petitioners fail to evacuate the building, the State would be entitled to evict them.

The State now claims that the failure to evacuate the house was in violation of the court ruling. During the evacuation, the forces encountered physical and verbal violence and were forced to handle disturbances in Hebron and its surroundings.

The claim against the settlers was filed by the Jerusalem Prosecutor's Office, together with the claims and outsourcing division in the State Prosecutor's Office, the Israel Police and the Israel Defense Forces.

According to an official at the State Prosecutor's Office, the lawsuit was filed "in order to create deterrence against the recurrence of such violations of the law, which damage the rule of law, and in order to return to the huge sums of money the State was forced to spend in order to enforce decrees and rulings.

"This claim was submitted following a previous claim filed by the State to get the costs of the Yitzhar evacuation back, as well as additional claims made over the costs of different evacuations."

The official added that "the State Prosecutor's Office plans to continue filing such lawsuits anywhere required. These lawsuits, like others, are advanced by the State Prosecutor's Office as part of a strategic perception that the State must make use of civilian tools in order to protect the rule of law and the public treasury."



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