Court’s opinion of arson in Har Hevron region: It is very difficult to link the defendants to the arson

Wednesday, May 29, 16:41 On Wednesday, May 29, Jerusalem Magistrate Court Judge Chen Avital ordered the release of four out of the five youths detained on Tuesday, May 28 in the Har Hevron region on suspicion of setting on fire a field belonging to an Arab from the village of Zif near the community of Havat Ma’on. The remand of the fifth detainee has been extended until Sunday, June 2. At the request of the police, carrying out the order has been delayed until the following day. The police will appeal the decision.
On May 28, IDF forces destroyed a house belonging to a young couple with a baby in the community of Havat Ma’on in the Har Hevron region. According to the police, subsequent to the destruction a field belonging to an Arab in the nearby village of Zif was set on fire as a “price tag” incident. As with every demolition in accordance with the regulations of the army and the police, an unusually large number of forces were stationed in the area surrounding the demolition in order to prevent “price tag” incidents.
Approximately two hours after the above mentioned arson, policemen from the Har Hevron Police stopped a car in which five youths, two of them minors, were traveling a short while after they left Havat Ma’on. The five youths were detained on suspicion of involvement with the arson after according to the owner of the field close to the time of the arson a similar car was seen in the area of the village. Because the the investigation is being handled by the new police department in charge of investigating “price tag” incidents, the National Crime Unit, the five detainees were taken to the Central Police Unit of Jerusalem and not the local police station.
On May 29, the five detainees were brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate Court where the police demanded a remand extension of five days. During questioning of the police representative by Honenu attorney Adi Kedar, who is representing the five detainees, it became clear that the accusation against them is based on the fact that one of the youths had a lighter even though he doesn’t smoke.
Jerusalem Magistrate Court Judge Chen Avital rejected the police demand and ruled that four out of the five youths would be released to house arrest until Tuesday, June 4. According to the judge, there is a difficulty in basing a reasonable suspicion concerning those four detainees. Also concerning the fifth detainee who was driving the car, which belongs to his parents, the evidence is circumstantial only – his car was seen in the vicinity of the village of Zif close to the time of the arson – and not specific. The judge ordered that his remand be extended until Sunday, June 2 in order to allow the police to complete the investigation on him. Subsequent to the announcement by the police that they intend to file an appeal the court accepted their request to delay carrying out the decision until the morning of Thursday, May 30.
Honenu states in response to the decision that, due to the inappropriate political pressure from the Justice Minister and other authorities, the conduct of the police is increasingly biased concerning residents of Yehuda and Shomron. It would be better if the police concentrated on the daily murder attempts by Arabs on the roads in those areas.

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