The Defense Ministry filed a civil suit this week for about 100,000 shekels ($29,000) against a Bedouin cowherd whose cows entered a firing zone near the Tze’elim army base in the Negev, forcing the army to stop training. According to the Southern District prosecution, which represents the Defense Ministry, this is the first time the state has sued for financial compensation over such an incident.
On June 3 of last year, the army reported to the Green Patrol, an interagency unit responsible for enforcing environmental laws, that a herd of cattle was milling around and disrupting army exercises. Green Patrol inspectors who arrived at the site reported about 20 cows, with no sign of ownership, three of which were hobbled in their front legs.
According to Naftali Dadon, head of the Agriculture Ministry’s southern district investigations unit, the cows had perforations in their ears, which meant they had been tagged in the past, but that the tags had been removed. The next day, between 6 A.M. and 9:30 A.M., the cows that could be caught were removed and taken to a quarantine station in the north. They were later returned to their owner, whose identity was established during the ensuing investigation.
The owner, Ahsin Abu Ayash, 25, a resident of an unrecognized Bedouin village, said his mother had been in charge of the herd on the day in question. “My mother called me on the spot and said they were putting the cattle on trucks.” Abu Ayash was fined 10,000 shekels.
After the incident, the Defense Ministry sought a legal opinion as to the financial loss that had been incurred by the army, which was determined to be 94,000 shekels.
The Southern District prosecutor, Shani Katz, noted in the suit: “The defendant at the very least was negligent or failed to act and caused the plaintiff damage. The defendant did not act reasonably and in keeping with the proper caution.”