Youth falsely detained in Old City of Jerusalem

Wednesday, March 4, 2015, 16:43 On Tuesday, March 3 four students of the yeshiva on Mt. Zion in the Old City of Jerusalem were detained when they arrived to immerse in the cistern near their yeshiva. According to the policemen one of the youths had excavation tools and therefore the police claimed that the youths had damaged the archeological site.
Three of the students were released the same day after they signed at the police station on a restraining order banning them from entering the Old City for 15 days. The fourth youth refused to sign and a police officer decided to leave him in remand overnight.
On Wednesday, March 4 the youth was taken to the Jerusalem Magistrate Court where he was represented by Honenu attorney David HaLevi. During the deliberation it was mentioned that the cistern is not fenced off and there is no sign at the site indicating that it is an archeological site. Additionally the youth stated that he had not dug at the site, but rather immersed in the cistern which was filled with water. Ritual immersion is a common practice among Jews who visit the site.
The police representative requested a restraining order banning the youth from the Old City, despite the fact that he did not present any proof that the youth had carried out any work of any sort at the site.
Judge Miriam Alkaslasi accepted HaLevi’s plea and ruled that there was no reason to ban the youth from the area. She also ruled that there had been no cause to detain the youth, even though he had refused the release conditions offered to him by the police officer, and ordered his immediate release.
“There was no cause to detain the defendant when he refused to be released under the conditions decided by the officer, and there was no concern that he would flee from legal proceeding,” wrote Judge Alkaslasi in her decision. “There was cause to summon him to a deliberation today [March 4] but not to order him held in remand,” she continued.
Judge Alkaslasi also wrote that she understands that the youth is interested in continuing to immerse in the cistern “as part of his belief” and added that if the Antiquities Authority wants to prevent people from immersing in the cistern then the site must be fenced off and identified.
Honenu attorney David HaLevi, who represented the youth, stated in response that, “The police conduct was scandalous and intolerable. The court harshly criticized the conduct of the police and ruled that there was no justification for my client’s remand. We are considering filing a civil suit against the police for false detention.”
Honenu: “This was a false detention which continues the trend among the Merchav David (Old City) Police of harassing Jews strengthening the Jewish presence on Mt. Zion. We denounce the police conduct and would much prefer to see them devote their resources to handling the Arabs who disturb the peace every day in the Old City.”

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