Police can no longer require suspects to strip for a search unless they have a very good reason to believe that a suspect is hiding weapons or drugs on his person, the High Court decided Wednesday.
According to the court, suspects who refuse to strip so that they can be searched will not be required to do so, although they can require suspects to partially disrobe for a search. Police also must present a “definite cause” in order to require a partial body search, such as a history of violence, resisting arrest, or drug possession, the court decided.
The decision came as the court considered a petition by Hananel Dorfman, who was arrested and forced to strip against his will. Doing so, the court said, damaged the “human dignity” of Dorfman, who resisted stripping and finally had his clothes torn off by police.
Police claimed that Dorfman was carrying a weapon, and that he was preparing to use it – a claim Dorfman denied. After he was stripped, searched, and found to be carrying nothing, Dorfman was released – and he promptly sued police for their actions. Police claimed that the strip search policy was necessarily in all cases, and constituted reasonable force – but the court did not accept this argument, instead saying that police was a violation of laws against demeaning individuals, and was possibly a violation of the Basic Law on Human Dignity.
Dorfman's attorney, Itamar Ben-Gvir, said that the decision was a just one, striking a balance between security and civil rights. “The court said that each case must be considered on its own, and that a blanket one size fits all was not acceptable,” said Ben Gvir. “Dorfman was suspected baselessly, and the court's decision was a just one.”