Israel High Court Accepts Journalist Ilana Dayan’s Appeal Against Libel Verdict

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail

Israel's High Court accepted on Wednesday the appeal of veteran journalist Ilana Dayan, and partially accepted the appeal of former Channel 2 franchisee Telad, against the 2009 Jerusalem District Court finding that Dayan libeled an Israel Defense Forces officer.

Dayan and Telad were ordered to pay the officer, knows as Captain R., NIS 300,000 for showing footage and airing audio tapes that suggested he had "confirmed the kill" of 13-year-old Iman al-Hams near an IDF fortification in Rafah in the Gaza Strip in 2004 on her program "Fact."

Ilana Dayan at the High Court last year. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

On the program, which was aired a month after her death, it was understood that the officer performed and confirmed the killing of a girl, and he was heard on the program ordering his soldiers to kill “anyone who moves, who moves in the area, even if they are three years-old.”

The finding against Telad was over a promotional video which aired before the show in question.

A poster showing 13-year-old Iman Al-Hams at a Gaza protest against her killing in 2004. Credit: AP

The court stated the ruling of the Jerusalem court was canceled, the rejected an appeal by the IDF officer, known as Captain R. to increase the compensation due to him as a result of the finding, and reduced the amount from NIS 300,000 to NIS 100,000.

Dayan appealed to the Supreme Court against the verdict in February 2010.

Dayan said at the time that if District Court Judge Noam Sohlberg's December 2009 verdict was not overturned, it would deal "a mortal blow to freedom of the press, and to a press that sparks controversy and public discourse and dares to expose to the light of day stories that ought to be told."

Captain R. was acquitted by a military tribunal sometime after the segment aired. He then sued Dayan and Telad for libel.

Sohlberg said in his verdict that the materials and the way they were presented did an injustice to Captain R.

In response to Wednesday's decision, the “Fact” program said, “We are happy that the high court has fully accepted Dayan’s appeal and rejected the claims related to the program.”

The went on to say that they “welcomed” that a court went back and “anchored the basic principles of freedom of expression in its decision.”

“Ilana Dayan asked to pass her thanks from the bottom of her heart to the attorneys who represented her," they also said.

Read this article in Hebrew