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Is entering Area B without coordinating with the authorities a criminal offense?

Sunday, August 28, 2016, 11:25 Honenu Attorney Chai Haber: “In a difficult to understand and unprecedented step, the police are claiming that entering Area B, which is permitted to Israeli citizens, constitutes the criminal offense of “public nuisance”, due to the fact that Arab terrorists throw rocks and endanger the lives of Israeli citizens. Unfortunately instead of protecting the worshippers, the IDF and the police decided to detain them. I was not surprised to hear from the police representative during the deliberation that not one of the rock-throwing Arabs had been detained. This is a slippery slope. Tomorrow the IDF could decide that instead of dealing with the individuals throwing rocks on the roads, they will detain the Jewish residents driving on the main roads, some of which are in Area B. We will file an appeal on the scandalous decision to distance the worshippers from all of Yehuda and Shomron. One is left wondering why it is that the left-wingers who entered [Area A] Ramallah, [in June 2016] and were attacked, were not detained whereas the worshippers who entered Area B were detained.” On Friday, August 26, The Petah Tikva Magistrate Court agreed to a police request to distance a group of 13 Breslov hasidim from Yehuda and Shomron for 60 days. They had entered the village of Kifil Haras (Timnat Hares), near Ariel, in the Shomron on Thursday night in order to pray at Joshua’s Tomb (Kever Yehoshu’a Ben Nun). The group was attacked by rock-throwing Arabs. Soldiers and policemen who arrived on the scene detained only the Jews. The village is located in Area B, which Israeli citizens are permitted to enter, and which has a similar status to that of other villages in Yehuda and Shomron and sections of Route 60, including the section traversing the Arab town of Hawara, which is traveled by Jews in private and public transportation on a constant basis, and the road from Jerusalem to the Jewish community of Nokdim. Concerning the status of Area B, the police explained that although entry to the village of Kifil Haras is permitted to Israeli citizens, there are scheduled, guarded entries to the village and because the group did not coordinate their arrival they are suspected of being a “public nuisance” and “disturbing a public servant in the line of duty”. The basis for the accusation is that the entrance of the worshippers to the village endangered their lives and the lives of the soldiers who entered the village to protect them. Additionally the police representatives said in court that the previous week the Breslov hasidim had entered Area A, and therefore demanded distancing them from all of Yehuda and Shomron. In order to enter Joseph’s Tomb (Kever Yosef HaTzadik), which although it is located in Shechem, it is in Area C, they had to pass through parts of Shechem classified as Area A. Honenu Attorney Chai Haber, who is representing the worshippers, stated that their entrance to the area, to pray at a holy site which Israeli citizens are permitted to be in is not a crime. Haber added that the IDF is responsible for guarding worshippers at the site and should not surrender to violent acts by the Arabs of Kifil Haras who threw rocks and rioted. Haber asked whether or not any of the rioting Arabs had been detained and received a negative answer. A police representative stated that none of the rock-throwing Arabs had been detained because the security forces did not want to “create a provocation, but rather acted to save the lives of the suspects.” Additionally Haber mentioned that the worshippers, among them 14-year old youths, were detained for interrogation at 3:00 in the morning and brought to court only after 14:00 in the afternoon. Most of the detainees were minors and in violation of the Youth Law their parents were not summoned to the court deliberation. Some of the minors complained of police brutality and one of them said that a policeman threatened him with a Taser gun. Despite the fact that the police representatives themselves admitted that entering the village does not constitute a crime, Judge Smadar Abramovitch-Kollende accepted the position of the police and ordered the distancing of all of the worshippers from all of Yehuda and Shomron for 60 days.

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