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Sole detainee in Oz Tzion incident released

Sunday, December 30, 22:17 A 15-year-old minor detained on Friday during clashes at the Oz Tzion outpost was released on Saturday night, after Shabbat. Honenu attorney Naftali Wertzberger stated that “The detention of a minor out of a crowd of hundreds of protesters is pathetic.” On Friday, December 28, rabbis and hundreds of youth arrived at the Oz Tzion outpost near Beit El for a group Shabbat. Shortly before Shabbat police forces including Yassam (Special Unit) and border police arrived at the site. According to youths who were present, the policemen attempted to violently remove the crowd and a scuffle developed. Eye witnesses reported that border policemen sprayed tear gas into the crowd. Several people were injured and required medical treatment at the scene, including Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat. At some point during the scuffle, the policemen grabbed one of the youths and informed him that he being detained for “assaulting a policeman.” The youth, who has no criminal record, was taken to the Sha’ar Binyamin Police Station where he was interrogated. During interrogation the youth asserted that not only did he not assault a policeman but that the policeman assaulted him and beat him without cause. According to the youth’s friends, he was grabbed at random by the police only because he was “easy prey.” Because the youth was detained just before the onset of Shabbat, he was forced to spend Shabbat in remand without any personal items. After Shabbat, the detained youth was brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate Court for a deliberation regarding the demand by the police to place him under house arrest for five days. Judge Ya’el Yitav rejected the demand and settled on a five-day ban on entering the Oz Tzion outpost and a two day ‘yeshiva arrest’ during which the youth will be confined to his yeshiva in Beit El. Regarding the group Shabbat, following the intervention of rabbis, among them Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, who spent Shabbat at Oz Tzion, the situation calmed down and the planned evacuation, which would have resulted in many Sabbath desecrations, was prevented. The participants of the group Shabbat agreed to leave of their on volition after the Sabbath was over. Honenu strongly criticizes the decision of the security forces to clear the site so close to Shabbat: “The group Shabbat was openly organized far in advance. Also youth began to arrive already during the early hours of the morning. The attempt to clear away the participants deliberately a short time before Shabbat began, with the use of violence, seems to be an unacceptable form of punishment and an attempt to fan the flames of dissent.” In response to the release of the youth Honenu attorney Naftali Wertzberger, who represented the youth, said that “The police claim that during the incident a policeman was assaulted by the youth whom he detained whereas the detainee claims that he was assaulted by the detaining policeman. From the judge’s rejection of the police claim we see the quality of the evidence of that claim. The final picture is a pathetic scene in which, out of a large demonstrating crowd of hundreds, the police chose to detain a 15-year-old youth.”

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