A police officer who was injured confronting a terrorist in 2008 and was fired several years ago has gone to court seeking to be reinstated on the force.
Daniel Mutza was given a police citation for his actions in 2008, when he confronted a Palestinian attacker, who stabbed him five times at the entrance to a school in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem.
As a result of his injuries, he was recognized as having 20 percent disability and returned to serve in a desk job with the police until 2015, when he was fired. Nonetheless, Mutza continued to work as a civilian employee within the police, earning a minimum wage that was a third of his former earnings, the Kan public broadcaster reported Monday.
After seven years of fruitless campaigning to return to uniform, Mutza took his case to Tel Aviv District Court last week, asking it to order the police force to rehire him.
“The Israel Police just dragged me through the gutter. Just looked at me like a rag, scorned me,” he told Kan. “What right do they have to take away my uniform? My only sin is that I protected schoolchildren and prevented a larger attack.”
The stabbing took place on October 23, 2008, amid a spate of attacks by Palestinians. Mutza and a female officer stopped a man near the school and asked to see his identification papers, which he produced, showing him to be a resident of the West Bank. The man then pulled out a knife and began stabbing Mutza, who, despite being seriously injured, was able to pull out his gun and shoot him. As Mutza struggled to breathe because of his injuries, the knifeman ran off and fatally stabbed 86-year-old Abraham Ozeri before he was eventually apprehended by a passerby.
“I am constantly asking myself what would have happened to the schoolchildren if I hadn’t been there,” Mutza said.
In the years that followed, Mutza underwent a series of surgical procedures as he recovered from his injuries, though he continues to have physical disabilities and suffers from PTSD.
“My physical functioning, and in some ways mental as well, was impaired,” he said.
In 2015 he was told that he must leave the force.
“All of a sudden, my commanders didn’t like me doing repeated surgeries and sent me to a medical committee to determine what’s going on,” he recalled.
The committee advised finding Mutza a role within the force but, he told Kan, the higher commanders insisted his case be reviewed by the Israel Police chief physician, who told him there was no job he could fill within the force and that if he didn’t resign he would be fired.
“I was in shock,” Mutza said.
After being laid off he returned as a civilian worker.
The Israel Police said in response to the report that the appellant’s case had been reviewed in the past by police officials and that it would respond to the court appeal via its legal representatives.
“It’s my dream. It’s my pride to go back to wearing the uniform,” Mutza said. “To put on the ranks and show my kids how proud dad is.
“I’m not talking about the salary, I’m talking about my honor,” he added. “I’ve earned all these scars fair and square.”