Israeli Border Police Officer Gets 8 Months’ Suspended Sentence for Assaulting Palestinian Woman

12:00 Jun 20 2023 Israel's Magistrate Court, West Jerusalem

Israeli Border Police Officer Gets 8 Months’ Suspended Sentence for Assaulting Palestinian Woman Israeli Border Police Officer Gets 8 Months’ Suspended Sentence for Assaulting Palestinian Woman
Former Border Police officer Orian Ben Kalifa at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Tuesday. Credit: Shira Diamant Published by Haaretz

Demonstrators supporting Ben Kalifa protest outside the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court in May. Credit: Oren Ben Hakoon Published by Haaretz

Orian Ben Kalifa was also ordered to pay the victim 2,000 shekels and a 4,000-shekel fine, as the court rejects defense’s request to void the conviction ■ Ben Kalifa’s response: ‘I don’t intend to pay even 10 cents’ of the damages and fine

by Josh Breiner for Haaretz
Jun 20, 2023 12:14 pm IDT

A Jerusalem Magistrates Court handed Orian Ben Kalifa, a former female officer in the Border Police, an eight-month suspended sentence after she was convicted for the 2021 assault of a young Palestinian woman in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Ben Kalifa was also ordered to pay a 4,000-shekel ($1,105) fine and 2,000 shekels in damages to the victim. Judge Joya Skappa-Shapiro rejected a request submitted by defense attorneys to void the conviction.

Skappa-Shapiro explained the sentence by saying that the defendant had not planned the assault and that it occurred while she was performing her duties under circumstances that involved “the stressful reality of limiting people’s freedom of movement ... the fear of disturbances that are common in the area and dealing with a person who had the temerity to challenge her.”

However, Skappa-Shapiro added, “We cannot avoid the fact that violence continued, without there being any need or proper authority, even after the victim’s offense had been overcome.”

The judge explained her decision to leave Ben Kalifa’s conviction intact by saying that the defendant had failed to “clearly” accept responsibility for her actions. “Throughout the entire process, she proclaimed her innocence, and did not hide, even after the verdict, her feeling that her conviction was an injustice done to her by the law enforcement system,” the sentence read.

The court convicted in May after ruling that Ben Kalifa, who had been stationed at the Lion’s Gate, had been too quick to employ force against a young Palestinian woman who had asked to pass through the area. Ben Kalifa pushed her several times, grabbed her by the neck and shook her, though the woman had herself not used force.

The court found that when the Palestinian woman was subsequently brought to a nearby police station, Ben Kalifa again pushed her, grabbed her by the neck and shook her while yelling at her to shut up, “without the complainant, who was frightened and crying, provoking her.”

However, the judge said it had not been proven that the bruises on the complainant’s neck were caused by Ben Kalifa and therefore convicted her of assault only and not of aggravated assault, as stated in the indictment.

The court said it saw no reason to believe Ben Kalifa’s version of events, that the Palestinian woman had “acted wildly.” In her decision, Skappa-Shapiro said the officer’s version “is not supported by any of the videos” that documented the incident.

In reaching her verdict, the judge also criticized the conduct of former deputy police commissioner Uri Bar Lev, who testified on behalf of the defense.

However, the court cleared the officer of obstructing justice, saying that the police internal affairs investigation “was conducted sloppily” and “ignored the need to investigate additional witnesses who could have been easily called in.”

Responding after the sentence was read, Ben Kalifa said: “To be clear, I don’t intend to pay even 10 cents” of the damages and fine.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir – who publically backed Ben Kalifa last month – also responded to the sentence with a Twitter post calling the judge’s decision “outrageous.” The far-right minister said Tuesday’s decision further illustrated why “there’s a need for a real reform of the judicial system.”
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