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Indictment filed against Kochav HaShahar detainees

Wednesday, April 22, 2015, 13:03 Correction: In the incident on Thursday, April 16 near Kochav HaShahar in which a group of shepherds approached the community there was one police detective disguised as an Arab, not several as previously reported, and the other shepherds were Arabs. The Jerusalem District Attorney’s office filed an indictment against the five Jews detained on Thursday, April 16 on suspicion of assaulting Arabs and a police detective disguised as an Arab who approached Kochav HaShahar in a staged incident . The police intended to draw residents of the community to the site, expecting a clash when the residents tried to remove the Arabs. The April 16 incident occurred when four Arabs, one of whom was later revealed to be a police detective disguised as an Arab, approached the hilltop communities, Givat Ma’aleh Shlomo and Givat HaBaladim, adjacent to Kochav HaShahar with their herd. Arabs do not usually approach this area and therefore one of the residents who noticed the presence of the Arabs summoned additional residents to the scene in order to examine why Arabs entered the site. According to the indictment one of the detainees approached the Arabs’ herd and then called out for more Kochav HaShahar residents to come. The five detainees and other Kochav HaShahar residents are suspected of assaulting the shepherds. The policemen state that at this point they came out of their ambush and detained five Kochav HaShahar residents as they were fleeing the scene. The detainees, some of them married with families, deny that they assaulted the police detective and the Arabs. The detainees stated that first one of them noticed Arabs with a herd very close to Givat HaBaladim, at a site to which Arabs never come. He was concerned that the Arabs posed a security risk and were possibly going to attempt to steal a herd belonging to residents of the hilltop. Therefore he galloped on his horse towards the Arabs. When he noticed that the herd with the Arabs did not belong to residents of the hilltop he left the scene. The other detainees stated that they were summoned to the scene, but when they realized from a distance that the herd and the Arabs had begun to leave, they returned towards their community and it was then that they were detained. The detainees’ remand has been extended twice, despite an almost complete lack of developments in the police investigation. On Wednesday, April 22 the Jerusalem District Court ordered the release of two of the detainees to house arrest, however carrying out the decision has been delayed. The five detainees are accused of racially motivated assault, attempted assault, and aggravated assault. The Attorney General’s office demands that they be held in remand until the end of proceedings. Honenu attorney David HaLevi, who is representing the detainees, stated that, “The indictment should not have been filed. The entire indictment is a fabrication by the Israeli Police who are using dangerous and superfluous provocations completely lacking a satisfactory justification. The Internal Security Minister had already given an assurance that the police would not carry out a procedure of this sort again. What is more serious is that the attempt to describe this incident as racially motivated has no basis in reality. Particularly a procedure [the provocation] of this sort carried out by the police directed only at one specific population is an instance of severe discrimination. I wonder if, in the Yehuda and Shomron regions, the police would dare to send policemen disguised as ‘settlers’ to wander close to an Arab village.” Kochav HaShahar’s secretariat regards the incident staged by the police as very serious and a danger to security. The members noted that Esther Galia, Hy”d, the mother-in-law of one of the detainees was murdered in a terror attack near Kochav HaShahar. The secretariat announced on Tuesday April 21 that it would freeze relations with the police until further notice, and also that Kochav HaShahar residents will hold a protest opposite the Sha’ar Binyamin Police Station on Sunday, April 26 at 18:30. In an announcement publicized on Tuesday, April 21 Kochav HaShahar’s secretariat wrote that, “The secretariat [of Kochav HaShahar] unequivocally denounces the conduct of the police and regards with seriousness the inappropriate use of Arab disguises against residents of the community, an act which poses a danger to security. “On Thursday, the 28th of Nisan (April 16) the police staged an incident during which they led an Arab shepherd with police detectives disguised as Arabs near Givat Mishcanot HaRo’im and the Ma’aleh Shlomo neighborhood adjacent to the community of Kochav HaShahar. “Simultaneously police and Yassam (Special Forces) Police set up an ambush and detained residents who were summoned to the scene [by another resident concerned for the security of the area], claiming that they had assaulted the Arab and the detectives. Five people were detained. This was a provocation by the police, a particularly serious incident due to the fact that the chairman of the secretariat had initiated a meeting with the commander of the police station and the community police officer in order to confirm that if there were problems they would be solved from the start out of mutual understanding and cooperation,” stressed members of Kochav HaShahar’s secretariat and mentioned that, “The foolish provocation occurred less than 12 hours after the despicable murder of Shalom Yochai Sherki, Hy”d, and the injury of his friend Shira Klein, may she be separated for a long life, and on Holocaust Remembrance Day.” The announcement continued: “The provocation was in complete contradiction of the assurance made by the Internal Security Minister before the entire Knesset which stated that the police would not carry out a procedure of this sort with a Jewish community. This is a quiet area. For many years there have not been clashes between residents of the community and the [Arab] population of the nearby villages. The manner in which the police operated only damages and taints the relationships in the area and endangers the community’s residents.”

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