Gag order lifted: Additional arrests in Nabi Elias vehicular arson case

Monday, March 19, 18:26 The Jerusalem Magistrate Court has ordered that the gag order be lifted on the investigation of the Nabi Elias arson which occurred approximately one month ago. Five arrests have been made in the case and four of the arrestees are suspected of involvement with the incident. Today a deliberation was held during which an additional arrestee was released to house arrest. To date four out of the five arrestees have been released. To reiterate, approximately one month ago in a car-jacking incident a car driven by a Jewish woman was stolen near the Arab village of Nabi Elias in the northern Shomron. This was just one incident in the wave of car-jackings by Arabs on the roads of the Shomron. The night after the aforementioned car-jacking the residents of Nabi Elias reported an instance of vehicular arson in the village. They claimed that they identified the vehicle in which the suspects fled the scene. The police located the vehicle, when it had no occupants. Already that same night large forces of police and border police raided the home of Z. a Yitzhar resident and the owner of the vehicle that the Arabs had identified as fleeing the scene of the arson. The police entered Z.’s home in the middle of the night, without knocking. Due to a mistake in the address they had first woken up all the residents of the neighboring house by banging on their door until they opened it. The owner of the car was asked to identify himself and when he did was arrested and taken to the Central Unit of the Yehuda and Shomron Police in Ma’ale Adumim. Z. was interrogated and his remand was extended by four days, even though Judge Eilata Ziskind ruled that there was no evidence linking him to the incident. After four days of remand the police, of their own volition, released Z. on condition that he remain under house arrest for several days. Several days after his release Z. was summoned again for interrogation, and after several hours was released, again. Last Tuesday at 3:00 a.m. border police, Yassam (Special Police), police interrogators, and agents from the Jewish Department of the GSS conducted a joint raid on three locations, Yad Binyamin, Bat Ayin and Yitzhar. Four suspects were arrested in the raid and taken to the Central Unit of the Yehuda and Shomron Police. One of the arrestees was later transfered to the Ariel Police for interrogation on suspicion for chopping down Arab trees. He was interrogated, his remand was extended by one day and in the end he was released to a two-day house arrest. At the request of the police a gag order was placed on three additional arrestees, two minors and one adult, in the case. The police conducted two more night raids on the community of Yitzhar. During the first raid the owner of the vehicle supposedly identified by the Arabs of Nabi Elias as fleeing the scene of the arson was arrested and released after several hours of interrogation. It should be noted that the owner of the vehicle was arrested during the raid rather than being summoned for interrogation even though he had been summoned for interrogation in the case and had appeared. During the second raid a student of the Yitzhar yeshiva, and roommate of one of the suspects, was arrested and also released after several hours of interrogation. Friends of the arrestees report that, “This is standard police conduct. The night before a deliberation on a remand extension the police raid the yeshiva and arrest someone in order to create a false impression that there is progress in the investigation. We are already accustomed to it.” In a deliberation which took place yesterday the police requested a remand extension on one of the minors suspected in the case. The judge refused and ordered that the arrestee be released to two days of house arrest. In response the police announced that they would appeal the decision. This morning the police retracted the request and released the arrestee. In a deliberation which took place today on the second minor the police requested a remand extension until the charge sheet is issued. The judge, Avraham Rubin, ruled that there is no difference between the status of this minor and the one who was released yesterday. “The decision made yesterday is relevant because the state has not filed an appeal on it… I learned from it that the State has agreed with the decision,” said the judge in his decision to release the arrestee to house arrest until this coming Friday. Also the judge removed the gag order from the case. The police announced that they will appeal the decision to release. Tomorrow a deliberation will take place on the adult involved with the case. It should be noted that already last week in the first deliberation concerning him, the judge said that there is no evidence linking him to the case and ordered that he be released. However the police filed an appeal on the decision, which was received in the end. Honenu attorneys Aharon Roza and Adi Kedar will represent the arrestees.

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