Police raid Yitzhar before sunrise, detain residents

Monday, February 20, 2023, 11:35 Before sunrise Monday, a large number of the Yehuda and Shomron Police along with the Border Police and the Special Police Force (Yassam) raided Yitzhar. Prior to the raid, the media had publicized a video clip of Yitzhar residents arguing with soldiers. Families were woken up by the police and their homes were searched, cell phones confiscated and vehicles impounded. The Yehuda and Shomron Police detained five (initially four) Yitzhar residents for clashing with soldiers. Two were released and the three others were brought before a judge to rule on a possible remand extension. Representing them at the police station was Honenu Attorney Moshe Poleski.

Yitzhar resident Elhanan Gruner, describing the raid reported that “The police raided [Yitzhar] before sunrise. Dressed in black, they banged on my neighbor’s door without identifying themselves as police. Contrary to the norm, there wasn’t a police car outside, only three unidentified men dressed in black. The incident could have ended in ‘friendly fire,’ because I was alerted to [what I thought was] a terrorist infiltration. They answered that it was the police only after I shouted. They’re crazy. They detained four [sic] residents on suspicion of clashing with soldiers. The incident started in pitch darkness. I have seen several police raids, but this was dangerous and insane conduct on the part of the Yehuda and Shomron Police. There was no consideration given to our precarious security situation. My children and my neighbor’s children woke up crying.”

Honenu leveled strong criticism at the security forces for the detention. “Human rights in Israel seem guaranteed for one side and set aside for others. In the State of Israel, there are those who are permitted to steal an army tank (with reference to last week’s left-wing protest) and those who are forbidden to even argue with a soldier. With disregard for human rights, personal freedom, or democracy the Yehuda and Shomron Police continue to stage detentions for the media. The only ‘fault’ of the detainees who were recorded arguing with soldiers was that they objected to searches and illegal harassment in a residential neighborhood and near houses in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, the Israel Police who extend the right to protest in Tel Aviv – for a certain public – to limits previously unknown to us, detain Yitzhar residents over an argument with soldiers. It is a disgrace. Honenu calls on the government to immediately intervene regarding this circus.”

Honenu Attorney Moshe Poleski notes that the “Opponents of judicial reform claim that it will violate human rights. But in this incident and in many similar incidents, we have witnessed time after time severe violations of the most fundamental rights of citizens, among them the right to freedom. Time after time, the Israel Police detain individuals for completely minor incidents. Detentions for arguing with soldiers over an objection to their conduct would never occur in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or any other place in Israel. However, Yitzhar residents have a different status, and here it is grounds for detention. Human rights were blatantly violated. The time has come to tell the Israel Police, particularly in the Yehuda and Shomron regions, that they must put an end to unjustified detentions. The rights of Yitzhar residents are no different from those of any other citizen in the State of Israel. Apparently, when one has payot one’s assurance of political status is different.”

Honenu attorney Eladi Weisel concurs “The police blatantly overstepped their authority. The false detentions were a media show for the public and were used as a means of intimidation. We will recommend to the detained residents to not be silent about the violation of their rights. They must sue for damages, as they were taken into police custody without any legal grounds.”

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