Wednesday, January 30, 10:27 Are the Israeli Police too quick to detain “hilltop youth”? Honenu, which provides assistance to soldiers and civilians who find themselves in difficult legal predicaments due to the complex security situation in Israel, replies, “Definitely yes.” On Tuesday, January 29, Y., a seventeen year old resident of Beit El in the Binyamin Region, was detained while traveling to visit a friend in Kiryat Arba. During a routine security check at the entrance to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station the guard carrying out the check found a collapsible baton in Y.’s possession. To the question posed by the guard as to the purpose of the baton the youth replied that to the best of his knowledge there is no prohibition against possessing a baton and that he carries it for the purpose of self-defense because he travels by hitch-hiking (a common mode of transportation in Israel). Y.’s response was not satisfactory to the guard, who summoned a police car. Honenu notes that yesterday a 17 year old youth was stabbed at the Tapuah Junction in the Shomron as he was hitch-hiking to his yeshiva in Kedumim. Policemen who arrived at the scene informed Y. that he was being detained and took him to the detention center at the Russian Compound in Jerusalem. In an additional search tear gas and three nails one and a half centimeter long were found on Y.. To Y.’s surprise the items were taken from him and he was forced to wait without being informed of the reason for his detention. As he was waiting Y. asked to consult an attorney from Honenu. He contacted Honenu attorney Adi Kedar and asked him if the self defense means which he carried were sufficient cause to detain him. Kedar replied that they were absolutely not sufficient cause and requested to speak to the investigator. It became clear that the investigator had been searching for a legal reason to prohibit the items found on Y. and arrest him. After Kedar clarified with the investigator that there was no legal cause to detain Y., the investigator was forced to release Y. after detaining him for almost four hours. Due to the lengthy delay Y. had to cancel his plan to visit his friend and returned home. Recently dozens of complaints of false detentions have reached Honenu. The common factor in all of the cases has been the outward appearance of the detainees: youth who fit the typical image of “hilltop youth”. Honenu is distressed about the phenomenon of false detentions of dozens of youth every week and states, “This is definitely a widespread occurrence and it’s obvious enough that it’s not random but rather the result of orders from the upper echelon. During the past few months dozens of youth have been detained in various locations throughout Jerusalem, only because of their appearance: large kippa and long peyot. It should be noted that in the vast majority of the instances there was no cause for the detention.” Honenu attorney Adi Kedar spoke to the investigator and gives here his opinion of the detention, “I don’t recall seeing a situation as ludicrous as this for many years: an attorney explaining to a police investigator that there is no prohibition of possessing a particular item and the investigator despite admitting that there is no prohibition known to him insists on continuing to keep the detainee in custody in hopes that he will find a cause to detain him.” The youth intends to file suit against the Israeli Police for false detention.
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