Israeli police has arrested over the past few weeks a total of 14 students from various yeshivot around Israel on suspicion of organizing to carry out “Tag Mechir” (price tag) actions against East Jerusalem Arabs.
The boys, ages 13 to 16, are suspected of carrying out violent actions in the Sheich jarach neighborhood and the Bar Lev Road area, out of hatred for Arabs and as revenge for Arab attacks against Jews.
The investigation was started following the arrest of two boys last week, for causing damage to Arab vehicles in the neighborhood. After their interrogation, the rest of the group members were arrested.
According to police, the suspects admitted during their interrogation that over the past few months they had attacked, on several occasions, in at least 20 locations, Arab motorists driving along Bar Lev Road in the city, threw stones at Arab buses, set fire to one Arab-owned vehicle in the neighborhood, and punctured the tires of Arab owned cars.
The boys also told their interrogators that they used to post observers in various streets, prior to the attacks, in order to identify Arab pedestrians or vehicles. As soon as their target would stop at a red light, they would signal their comrades to open the car door, spit on the passengers and hit them.
All 14 boys were arrested by the Central Jerusalem Police. Four have been released on a high bail and must stay under house arrest, and the Magistrate Court remanded the rest to jail until Thursday. Police are expecting additional arrests.
Shortly after the police public announcement, Attorney Itamar Ben Gvir, of Hanenu, told the website Srugim that the entire saga will become a source of great embarrassment to police. He said that one of the boys who were released today was supposedly the main suspect.
The Police argued in court that all the suspect should be remanded, since the investigation is bound to take a significant period of time. But attorney argued that this is the very reason why his clients, who are all minors, should be released so as not to spend an unreasonable amount of time behind bars before their trial. The judge bought his argument regarding 4 out of the 14.
Attorney Ben Gvir said he will argue that the lengthy arrest and interrogation period, in the case of minors, invalidates their admissions. He said police will have to explain to the court why they had to conduct late night interrogations, why they did not update the suspects’ attorneys, and why they resorted to the tactic of telling one suspect that his friend had already turned on him, which may constitute a violation of the civil rights of a minor.