A young Haredi man spent the entire Shabbat in police custody after crossing the Betar Illit city fence to the “Palestinian” side to immerse in a spring on Friday afternoon, Kikar Hashabbat reporter Haim Goldberg tweeted
Sunday morning. On Saturday night he was brought before a judge, and police requested a four-day remand – for dipping in a spring Erev Shabbat on the wrong side of the fence, in Areas A & B.
There were two suspects, but one managed to escape (let’s hope he had a towel).
The police representative told the judge: “We are in a security alert situation, and the presence of Jews on the ground could raise concerns about a threat of danger to the public in general.” He also mentioned suspicion about the accused having damaged the fence.
The President of the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Courts, Judge Shmuel Herbst, didn’t buy any of it. He noted that the accused, according to his testimony, “wished to immerse in the spring before Shabbat, in her honor, and his version was not refuted, as the investigation material revealed.” Had the police wanted to accuse him of damaging the fence, “it would have been appropriate to start this indictment in an orderly fashion and write that the accused should be incarcerated for intentional damage to property, conduct that may violate the public peace, breaking and entering, and conspiracy to commit a crime.” Which the cops only mentioned a full day after the initial arrest for dipping on the Arab side.
Then the judge added that “without underestimating these charges, it seems that it would have been better for such a request not to be submitted.” He noted that the young man did go through a crack in the fence, but it would be difficult to prove that he caused the crack, and he certainly did not intend to violate the public peace or conspire to commit a crime.
Did we mention all he wanted was to dip in the spring Erev Shabbat?
Finally, the judge made minced meat of the cops’ claim regarding the security situation: “This is a statement I do not understand. A study of the Declaration of Independence shows that this is a state that was established for the Jewish people, therefore, the stay of a Jewish person at one point or another does not constitute a ‘threat of danger to the public in general.’”
He continued: “Also, it was not clarified and no evidence was presented that the fence belongs to another person and passing through it constitutes a violation of a boundary. Therefore, I did not find that there was a reasonable suspicion of the commission of the offense or, alternatively, of the danger that arises from it. Therefore, I order the release of the accused unconditionally,” the judge ruled.
In response, the police asked to delay the judge’s decision so they could appeal to the district court, but the judge rejected this request, too.