Attorney General’s office forms special team to handle “Price Tag” incidents following murder of kidnapped youths

Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 17:03 In a deliberation at the Jerusalem Magistrate Court in which the State of Israel requested the conditional release of a detainee suspected of spray painting graffiti, it became known that following the murders of the three youths kidnapped on June 12 the Jerusalem District Attorney’s office held a meeting and formed a special team to handle “Price Tag” incidents. Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir: “This is a black day for the Attorney General’s office.”
During the night following the announcement that the three youths had been murdered, an approximately 35 year-old Jewish resident of a moshav in the area of Beit Shemesh was detained near the city on suspicion of spray painting graffiti reading, “Kahane Tzadak” (“Rabbi Meir Kahane was right”) on a road sign on Rt. 38. The detainee was taken to the Beit Shemesh Police Station and interrogated on suspicion of vandalizing public property and incitement to racism. The detainee explained during interrogation that he spray painted the graffiti while he was in a state of extreme emotional distress upon being informed of the murders of the three youths kidnapped on June 12 : Gil-Ad Sha’ar, Naphtali Frankel and Ayal Yifrach, hy”d.
On the morning of Tuesday, July 1 the detainee was brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate Court. The police requested that he be released on condition of a third party bond and cash bail of 3,000 NIS.
In the deliberation attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is representing the detainee on behalf of Honenu, pleaded that the detainee should be unconditionally released being as spray painting “Kahane Tzadak” is not incitement, and brought a statement from Attorney General Shai Nitzan who ruled in the past that graffiti of this type is not incitement. Ben-Gvir also pleaded that suspects of vandalism are not detained but rather interrogated and then released.
In response to Ben-Gvir’s questions the interrogator replied that after the murder of the three missing youths the Jerusalem District Attorney held a meeting and a special team was formed in anticipation of “Price Tag” incidents which were likely to be carried out by Jews in response to the murders. “This is one instance at which I look and cannot believe that the suspect sat all night at the [police] station,” said Ben-Gvir at the deliberation. “Our case is exceptional in that the police detained a man for a violation involving freedom of expression.”
At the end of the deliberation Jerusalem Magistrate Court Judge Hagit Mak-Kalmanovitch accepted Ben-Gvir’s pleas and ordered the release of the detainee on bail only. “As a rule writing graffiti is not a violation which justifies detention,” wrote Judge Mak-Kalmanovitch. “[Writing graffiti] does not pose any danger whatsoever and is not an act for which a cause for detention can be established.”
Ben-Gvir stated after the deliberation that, “It is a black day for the Jerusalem District Attorney’s office when they ready themselves with special preparation for instances of graffiti and slogans being written throughout the city. The Attorney General’s office must internalize that we live in a democratic state in which there is freedom of expression. I would expect that the resources be invested in investigating crimes against Jews. Not a day goes by without Jews being assaulted if not by clubs then by rock-throwing throughout Jerusalem and the Attorney General’s office makes special preparations in anticipation for graffiti and scribbles on walls. I hope the the Attorney General’s office understands the message in the judge’s decision and, instead of involving themselves with graffiti, deal with more serious crimes.”
Honenu also responded: “We call on the police and the Attorney General’s office to join the exemplary unity which Jews have experienced during the past few weeks, and to cease causing divisions by singling out Jews with false detentions .”

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