Five yeshiva high school students from Jerusalem were detained Sunday, after an altercation had broken out between them and an Arab at “HaKotel HaKatan” (“the small wall”), a section of the retaining wall surrounding the Temple Mount near the Western Wall, Honenu reports. The students were held in remand until the middle of the night and then released on condition of a restraining order banning them from entering the Old City of Jerusalem for 15 days.
The group, accompanied by one of their rabbis, arrived at HaKotel HaKatan Sunday at dusk and began the Shavuot afternoon prayers. An Arab man accompanied by two Arab women passed by them. The Arabs spoke loudly, laughed and disturbed the prayers.
In response to a request by the praying students to lower their voices, the Arab man began to shout, curse and disturb the prayers even more. An altercation developed after several of the students attempted to remove the disruptive Arab from the scene, and he pulled off his belt to attack them.
Arab policemen from the Old City of Jerusalem arrived, and the disruptive Arab pointed at several of the students who, according to him, had attacked him. As a result, the policemen detained them.
According the students, the Arab arbitrarily pointed at some of them as responsible for the altercation.
One of the detained students told Honenu that the Arab policemen did not inform them that they were being arrested, but instead only requested that they come with them to the police station in order to clarify the details of the incident. They were told they could review, along with police, video taken by a security camera at the scene.
In the end, they were not shown the video.
At the police station, the students, all minors, were detained for interrogation. They remained there until the middle of the night.
The law requires that the parents of a minor be informed of their child’s arrest and that a parent or other adult be present during the interrogation of a minor. But the parents of two of the detained students claim that they were not informed of the arrest. The parents of another student received an announcement only at 1:30 in the morning, even though their son had been detained since about 7:30 PM.
Honenu attorney Adi Kedar was called to represent the detainees.
The detainees told Honenu that police refused their request for grape juice in order to say the havdala blessing at the end of Shabbat, and therefore during their entire stay at the police station they could not eat or drink.
(According to Jewish law, one must first say the havdala blessing, customarily over wine or grape juice, before being allowed to eat or drink.)
After several hours of interrogation, the students were released on condition of a restraining order banning them for 15 days from the Old City of Jerusalem.
The parents of one of the detained students told Honenu that their son had not been at the scene at the time of the incident, arriving only after hearing about the altercation.
“Why didn’t the police examine the film from the security camera, as they should have before opening a criminal file on my son?” asked the father of one of the students.
According to him, received a call at 1:30 AM, from an unlisted number, which he missed and was then unable to call back.
The parents intend to file a complaint on the conduct of the police, including the violation of their son’s rights as a minor.