Court accepted both appeals and released all detainees

Thursday, October 11, 16:37 Two appeals filed by Honenu were accepted today by the Jerusalem Magistrate Court. Concerning the Nachaliel detainees the police chose to ignore the testimony of a Bedouin scout who backed the testimony given by the detainees. Concerning Havat Ma’on the Jerusalem Magistrate Court stated that the case involved a provocation. Honenu: the police broke new records for improper conduct. Two clashes between Jews and Arabs led to the detention of residents of Nachliel in the Binyamin region and Havat Ma’on in the Southern Har Hevron region. Today the detainees were released after Honenu filed two appeals with the Jerusalem District Court on their remand. In the first incident two residents of Nachaliel were detained on suspicion of assault and throwing rocks after rioting Arabs from the nearby village of Beitelu approached their community and damaged their agricultural areas. In the second incident two residents of Havat Ma’on attempted to drive away a group of Arabs and anarchists who came to provoke disturbances near their community. Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Drori accepted the two appeals and all of the detainees were released to their homes. On the eve of the Simhat Torah holiday (October 7) a group of Arabs from the village of Beitelu arrived and claimed that they had come to harvest olives just outside of Binyamin community of Nachaliel. Residents of the community who sensed that it was a provocation and an attempt to damage their agricultural areas came out and drove the Arabs away. After a short while the Arabs returned to the scene accompanied by extreme left-wing activists with cameras. As they were attempting to damage trees belonging to residents of Nachaliel some of the residents came out again to drive them away. A rock-throwing skirmish developed which ended after IDF forces came and separated the two groups. Later Yassam (Special Unit) police raided Nachaliel and detained two residents on charges of assault and rock-throwing. Their remand was extended until yesterday. In a deliberation yesterday Itamar Ben-Gvir, the attorney hired by Honenu to represent the two detainees, strongly criticized the investigatory process of the police. According to Ben-Gvir a soldier, a Bedouin scout, who was at the site during the clash explicitly testified that the two detainees were not involved with the clash. Ben-Gvir added that this testimony was known to the police from the beginning of the investigation and also sent an urgent letter on the matter to the Central Unit of the Yehuda and Shomron Police. The entire time the police chose not to listen to the soldier and did not take a formal testimony. Despite Ben-Gvir’s actions Judge Anat Zinger extended the remand of the two detainees by two days. Today Honenu filed an appeal on the remand extension with the Jerusalem District Court. At the start of the deliberation the police requested the release of one of the detainees and insisted on keeping the other in remand. Judge Drori ordered the release of also the second detainee in light of the claims made by Ben-Gvir and the admission by the police that keeping the detainee in remand is not essential to the investigation. It should be noted that the second detainee stood in two police line-ups and was not identified as being involved with the incident. In the second appeal the judge ruled on the two residents of Havat Ma’on, a community in the Southern Har Hevron region. Last Shabbat a group of anarchist and Arabs arrived in the Har Hevron region and held a protest parade near the communities of Susiya and Havat Ma’on. When the protesters passed Havat Ma’on a group of youths from the community went out to drive them away. According to the Arabs and the anarchists the youths threw rocks at them, a claim that has not been verified despite the many cameras brought by members of the group. After the incident security forces detained one Jew within the area of Havat Ma’on on a claim that he had been involved with the incident. One day later the security forces detained a second resident suspected of involvement with the incident and their remand was extended until yesterday (Wednesday). In a deliberation which took place yesterday at the Jerusalem Magistrate Court the judge said that the incident occurred following provocation by the Arab–left-wing group and that she doubts the credibility of the witnesses. Nevertheless the judge decided to extend their remand by two days in light of circumstances which she cited. Honenu attorney Adi Kedar filed an appeal this morning with the Jerusalem District Court. Also this time Judge Drori accepted the claims in the appeal that the evidence in the hands of the police is too weak and released the two detainees to a two week house arrest. Additionally Judge Drori strongly criticized the police for not detaining even one of the Arabs or the left-wing activists, even though the incident had been a mutual clash. Honenu notes that the holiday season this year was characterized by an unusually large number of detainees. Approximately 50 people were detained in various incidents, beginning with the visitors on the Temple Mount and people staying at outposts and ending with the incidents involving Arabs and left-wing activists. “It seems that the police is trying to ‘balance’ the joy of the holidays. There is no other explanation for the behavior of the police during the past few weeks.” Ben-Gvir, who represented the detainees from Nachaliel on behalf of Honenu, reported that, “This is a serious case of misconduct. It can’t be that when the police are aware that there is testimony which does not match its version of the incident and could result in the immediate release of suspects, the investigators decide not to summon the witness during all of the days that the information is in their hands, and the suspects are in remand. The role of the police is to genuinely investigate and not to needlessly falsely detain innocent suspects. I hope that today’s court decision will send a clear message to the police and put and end to the policy of detaining right-wingers following provocations by anarchists and Arabs such as we have seen during the past three weeks.”

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