Court okays promotion of police officer who insulted settlers

Shaham approved as Jerusalem District deputy chief; told officers during disengagement to hit protesters with clubs.

Abusive Shaham 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Abusive Shaham 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
The High Court of Justice on Monday approved the appointment of police Lt.-Cmdr. Niso Shaham as the Jerusalem District deputy chief after rejecting several petitions against the appointment because of statements Shaham made during a demonstration at Kfar Maimon prior to 2005's disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Shaham was filmed telling a border policeman during an anti-disengagement rally in Kfar Maimon to "hit [the protesters] with clubs, if necessary, and aim low." He also said, "Let them burn" and directed vulgar remarks at the protesters. After his remarks were broadcast by Channel 10 news, Shaham issued an apology in which he said, "I did say the things attributed to me. They were directed only at those exceptions who threatened to break through and attack the rule of law and the police. You must judge the affair by its results. All of the police who were in the field, including me, were very tolerant. I am sorry for the uncharacteristic statement I made in difficult circumstances. That is not my style." After the incident, Shaham was brought before then-Israel Police inspector-general Moshe Karadi in a disciplinary court, where he was reprimanded and docked six days' pay. His appointment as deputy Jerusalem District commander was his first promotion since those events. Two petitioners, attorney Dror Schossheim and the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, petitioned the High Court against the appointment. In rejecting the petitions, Justice Ayala Procaccia wrote that the current Police inspector-general, David Cohen, and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter had weighed all the factors for and against Shaham's promotion. "They decided that the proper balancing point justified Shaham's appointment after tallying up the points in his favor and against, giving each its proper weight. The appointment meets the test of reasonability and therefore the court should not intervene." Afterward, the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel issued a statement charging that while Procaccia treated Shaham with mercy, she was the same justice who had ordered a 14-year-old female anti-disengagement protester to remain in jail for 40 days. "It is good that the court can be capable of mercy," the Forum wrote. "Too bad it is sometimes one-sided." Shaham will take up his new position immediately.