Supreme Court: Attorney General’s office went too far, there are no grounds for remand

Sunday, March 24, 16:34 A rock thrown by a youth trying to impress his friends resulted in a case heard before the Supreme Court of Israel after the police insisted that the youth remain in remand until the end of proceedings. Justice Amit ruled that the youth did not attempt to damage a passing car and did not find cause to interfere with the Jerusalem District Court’s decision. Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is representing the youth on behalf of Honenu, states that the case has a strong scent of racism.
Last Wednesday (March 20) a 17 year old youth from the community of Ma’aleh Amos in the Etzion Bloc was detained and taken to the Etzion Bloc Police Station where he was interrogated on suspicion of throwing a rock at the road passing the community of Ma’aleh Amos. According to the youth, who cooperated during interrogation, two days previously he was in the area with friends and threw a rock towards the road in order to impress them. The youth stated that he could not have hit a vehicle from the distance at which he stood and indeed none was hit. After he threw the rock an IDF soldier approached him and reprimanded him for his act. The youth and the soldier argued and after a short while their conversation ended. According to the youth the soldier asked him for his name at the end of the conversation and he answered.
Two days later the youth was detained on suspicion of endangering lives on a highway. Already the following day the police filed a severe indictment with the Jerusalem District Court, indicating the seriousness of the act in their opinion, and demanded that the 17 year old youth be kept in remand until the end of proceedings. Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is representing the youth on behalf of Honenu, pleaded that the youth has no criminal record whatsoever and did not in actual fact endanger anyone. Additionally the youth expressed regret for his action and cooperated with his interrogators. Jerusalem District Court Judge Rafael Ya’akobi rejected the police demand and voiced strong criticism on, in his opinion, the strange request for remand until the end of proceedings in a case such as this. The judge ruled that the youth would be released to partial house arrest in addition to posting bail. In response to the police request to delay carrying out the release for 48 hours the judge stated that the request itself is an abuse of process and rejected the request.
The Attorney General’s office appealed the case with the Supreme Court of Israel and a deliberation was scheduled for Sunday, March 24 before Justice Ya’akov Amit. During the deliberation the prosecution reiterated its opinion that this is a serious incident which necessitates remand until the end of proceedings or at least until the youth probation service suggests an alternative to remand. Justice Amit was not impressed by the claims of the Attorney General’s office and accepted the opinion of Ben-Gvir that this is a case of a youth with no criminal record who cooperated under interrogation and expressed regret for his act. Justice Amit added that the youth had not directly aimed the rock from close range, which lessens the severity of the act. In the end Justice Amit acquiesced to the request by the prosecution to tighten the conditions of the youth’s house arrest. The youth will remain at home other than to attend prayers in synagogue.
Ben-Gvir, who represented the youth on behalf of Honenu, severely criticized the conduct of the police. “The conduct of the Attorney General’s office in this case has a strong scent of racism and discrimination against Jews. Only two weeks ago Arabs threw rocks at my wife and the police from the Hevron Police Station who apprehended the suspects told my wife that they were, all in all, youths and gave them a warning. In this case the Attorney General’s office requested to keep the youth in remand for several months. It is difficult for me to understand this policy unless someone is trying to satisfy the incoming Justice Minister. The Supreme Court did well to reject the appeal, although I reason that it would have been appropriate to reprimand the Attorney General’s office. In a case such as this it is inappropriate to request remand until end of proceedings. Not a week goes by in which, due to their status as a minor, the Attorney General’s office doesn’t release youths who have committed misdemeanors several times worse. It is unfortunate that in this case the Attorney General’s office took such an extreme stance and it is good that their demands were not accepted.”

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