Israel Police Compensation Payments Rise to $4 Million

Reckless fatal shootings, forced confessions and failure to follow leads resulted in massive payouts.

The police paid over 15 million shekels (nearly $4 million) last year to compensate people injured by their negligence or malfeasance, an increase of 38 percent over 2014.

The Southern District accounted for the largest payments, followed by the Tel Aviv District, according to the police’s annual damages report released Wednesday.

Last year’s payments totaled 15,758,421 shekels, up from 9,714,688 shekels in 2014. Most payments were for incidents that occurred in previous years, since police contest most damage claims in an effort to discourage people from suing, and the legal proceedings often take years.

For instance, one payment of 2.1 million shekels was made to four people over an incident that occurred in 2003, when police were chasing a minor suspected of throwing stones. At some point, they opened fire and hit a Bedouin tent, killing one person and wounding three – none of whom were involved with the stone-throwing.

Another payment stemmed from the murder of a Tel Aviv prostitute in the early 1990s. About 18 months after the murder occurred, police received an intelligence tip that two other prostitutes, both drug addicts, had heard from a third prostitute that she saw a certain man putting the victim into his car on the day she was killed. Police then arrested the prostitutes and threatened to jail them and deprive them of drugs if they didn’t confess to having seen the man.

Faced with these threats, the prostitutes made false confessions, which police then used to charge an Israeli Arab with murder. A court later acquitted him and harshly criticized the police for putting illegitimate pressure on the witnesses.

The man and the two prostitutes then sued, and last year, a court awarded them 2.4 million shekels, with the cost to be split evenly between the police and the prosecution.

In a third case, 1.1 million shekels were paid to the parents of 7-year-old Leon Kalantarov, who was murdered by the Sudmi brothers from Bnei Ayish in 2010. It later turned out that both the police and the Bnei Ayish welfare department had been tipped off even before the murder that the brothers were bribing young children with candy to come to their houses and watch pornographic movies.

Had police acted on this information, Kalantarov wouldn’t have been killed. But instead, they ignored it. Thus, under an out-of-court settlement, the police and the Bnei Ayish local council each paid the family 1.1 million shekels last year.

Another 1.1 million shekels was paid to a fan of the Bnei Sakhnin soccer team who lost an eye when police fired rubber bullets to disperse a group of Sakhnin fans after a match between Bnei Sakhnin and Beitar Jerusalem. The Justice Ministry concluded that police had opened fire in violation of regulations.