The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Sunday acquitted a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem of threatening settlers on his land in the West Bank, six years after the charges were first brought against him.
In April 2009, Monhand Anati and his father went to an area of agricultural land they owned next to the settlement of Beit El, Haaretz reported, saying that the two had been unable to enter the area for several years.
During that time, the report said, a cistern at the site had become an attraction for local settlers.
Seven residents of Beit El arrived at the site after Anati and and his father, who had asked them several times not to use the area as it harmed the crops there. The settlers pushed Anati and approached the cistern, and a scuffle broke out, the report said.
During the altercation, Anati’s father grabbed a gardening implement, which Anati immediately took from him and placed it on the ground. He then went to a nearby IDF checkpoint to seek assistance, saying they had come under attack by the settlers.
Anati then returned and called the police, at which point the settlers retreated, the report said. While Anati tried to document the situation on his cellphone, he was surrounded by soldiers who confiscated his phone, handcuffed him and detained him for the hour and a half it took for police to arrive.
The settlers subsequently filed a complaint against Anati, reportedly claiming that “his father immediately seized a hoe and swung above the head of a minor… while threatening to massacre them if they did not leave the site.”
Police accepted the version of events given by the settlers and the soldiers, the report said, despite the fact that it had been Anati who called the police and sought help from the troops. A few months later, an indictment against Anati was filed, and the police, soldiers and settlers involved in the incident all testified at the trial.
In his ruling Sunday, Judge Dov Pollock of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court wrote, “I have reached the conclusion that there is no credibility to the testimony of the prosecution’s witnesses. In contrast, the defendant impressed the court with his credibility, and his version of the events that has remained consistent to this day.”
Anati’s attorney, Haim Yitzhaki, said in response: “Throughout the case, it appeared that the prosecution witnesses’ version of events did not tally with reality, unlike the defendant’s version. I am pleased that the court has delivered justice and acquitted him.”