Israeli Left-wing Activist Compensated for Wrongful Arrest in 2013

Judge says videotaped evidence shows police misrepresented their description of events

Guy Butavia in Court, January 20, 2016.
Guy Butavia in Court, January 20, 2016. Emil Salman

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court has ordered Israel to pay 3,000 shekels ($852) in compensation to an activist plus court costs with the left wing Ta’ayush group for a wrongful arrest four years ago. 

The incident took place in September 2013 in the southern Hebron Hills when Guy Butavia, the activist, had come to document the confiscation of a Palestinian water tank by the Israeli army. 

Meanwhile, this past Saturday, during another event involving Ta’ayush activists, Butavia had his hand broken by a settler.

In the 2013 incident Butavia was held for several hours by the police. The investigation against him was closed for lack of evidence, but after an appeal filed on his behalf by attorney Itay Mack, the reasoning given for closing the case was officially lack of guilt. 

Butavia sued for compensation for wrongful arrest, and last week Judge Abigail van Crevel accepted part of his suit.

The police at the scene had claimed that he was arrested for interfering with the duties of a policeman on duty and that the police had felt threatened by the Palestinians who had gathered at the site. But the judge ruled that based on the videos that had been taken of the incident the police had not given accurate testimony. 

“In general the impression is of a scene that was not as it was described by the policeman,” she said. “Still, the issues are complex and it is difficult for the court to form a precise impression of the atmosphere at the scene of the incident.” 

She ordered the police to pay Butavia 3,000 shekels in compensation and to cover his court costs.

This past Saturday, a settler, who was likely from the south Hebron Hills settlement of Carmel, broke Butavia’s hand near the settlement. Butavia had come to the area with several other Ta’ayush activists to assist Palestinian residents who said settlers had been hurling stones at them. 

During a tour of the settlement’s perimeter road a number of settlers appeared. One of them pushed Butavia hard with his weapon and fractured his hand. The incident was documented by Butavia’s body camera.

Afterwards the police arrested two Ta’ayush activists for a number of hours.

In January 2016, Butavia and Nawi were arrested following an investigative report by the “Uvda” television program that alleged he had turned in Palestinian land sellers to the Palestinian Authority for selling land to Jews.

Nawi has been told the authorities plan to indict him. But Butavia has not been informed of any potential charges against him.