A Jerusalem judge has ruled that Friday’s arrest of a boy on suspicion of organizing a group entry into the city of Jericho was illegal. The boy, who spent the Sabbath in a police station and was ordered released unconditionally by Judge Feinberg on Saturday night, says he will sue the police.
The bottom line is that the Binyamin District police crusade against Jewish entry into the city of Jericho is being waged at the expense of desecrating the Sabbath and violating the law. They arrested five boys on Friday and released them before the onset of the Sabbath; two more just before the Sabbath, one of whom was quickly released; and another eight around the same time. The last group was driven on the Sabbath – in violation of Jewish Law and over their protests – to the police station in Ariel, from where most of them were released.
On Saturday night, a group of youngsters did manage to make their way to two ancient Jewish synagogues in the area – one in Naaran and one in Jericho. Seven of them were arrested, and the police are pursuing others. One of the organizers announced afterwards, “We want to emphasize the importance of these synagogues, and we insist on Jewish presence there.”
The story began on Friday, when five boys carrying literature emphasizing the importance of Jericho to the Jewish People were arrested on suspicion of attempting to enter the city, in Palestinian Authority-controlled area. Attorney Adi Keidar of the Honenu civil rights organization immediately became involved, contacting the police to ascertain the reason for the arrest and whether there was any proof of their alleged intentions. The police said that one of the boys was bearing “inciteful literature” regarding the Biblical city of Jericho and why it should be returned to Israeli sovereignty.
The five were released shortly before the Sabbath.
Around the same time, two other boys standing at the junction leading to the Jewish community of Yeitav, near Jericho, were arrested under similar circumstances. The boys, also bearing literature explaining Jericho’s significance, said they were on their way to Yeitav – but the police did not believe them, and took them to the station in Ariel. One of the boys was released just minutes before the onset of the Sabbath, while the other – accused of being the ringleader – was kept in the police station.
Finally, another eight boys were arrested near Yeitav for similar reasons, even though they denied that they were headed to Jericho. The eight were driven, on the Sabbath, to Ariel, where they were released unconditionally a few hours later.
Nine of the boys spent the Sabbath, or what was left of it, amidst the former Gush Katif residents of Netzarim currently building their new community in a section of Ariel.
The boy who was detained in the police station throughout the Sabbath was brought on Saturday night to the Jerusalem Magistrates Court. The police requested that he be released on condition that he not return to the area of the alleged crime for a number of weeks. The judge turned them flat down, ordering the boy freed immediately and saying that the arrest and detention had been illegal.
He was represented by Attorney Yitzik Bam of Honenu.