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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Israeli police strip-searched religious teenage girls?

If even a quarter of this story is true, the Israeli police are even further beneath contempt than I previously thought they were. If the source for this story were Arutz Sheva, much as I love them, I would warn you that they have a right wing bias and that you should consider taking this story with a grain of salt. But the source for this story is the JPost which is extremely careful to balance its editorializing with columnists on both the left and the right. And therefore, unfortunately, I have to say that I am inclined to believe that this story is true.

As I reported on Monday morning, seven religious teenage girls have been sitting in jail incommunicado - no lawyers and no parents - since December 25, when they were arrested for occupying an 'illegal outpost' in Samaria.
Over the weekend, the JPost magazine did a feature about seven teenage girls who have become folk heroes in Judea and Samaria. The girls - aged 15 and 16 (or 14 and 15 depending upon which version you accept) - have been held incommunicado in a Jerusalem jail since being arrested on December 25 for being in an 'illegal outpost' in Samaria. They are not even able to contact their parents because they refuse to give their names, recognize the court's authority (they say that they only recognize God's law) or sign release conditions that would keep them away from the hilltop on which they were sitting. And no, they have no right to contact a lawyer here either. There are no Miranda warnings or rights to see a lawyer here - even for juveniles. If you follow the link, please keep in mind that the Post column was written by one of the paper's true leftist writers (Larry Derfner), who is unsympathetic to the 'settlers' and take it with the appropriate grain of salt. But for people like me who come from the United States, the idea of 15-16 year old girls being held like terrorists in jail for more than two weeks is simply astounding.
This morning, there is more news about those girls - who until last weekend did not exist anywhere in the Israeli media other than Arutz Sheva (and may still not exist in the Hebrew media) - and it is disturbing and outrageous.

The JPost reports this morning that the girls were strip-searched by the police upon their arrest. The source for the story is at least one of the parents. Apparently - possibly as a result of last weekend's story - they were allowed to briefly call the parents. But if the Post ran this, I have to believe they found it credible. I find myself filled with disgust....
"On the first night of their arrest, they were taken to the Binyamin Prison complex for interrogation," said the mother of one of the girls, repeating what her daughter had told her during a short telephone call.

"The girls were asked to remove their clothes. They refused to do so, [and] they were handcuffed and forcibly stripped," said the mother. "These girls are devout and chaste. They have never worn a bikini in their lives. For them, the experience is tantamount to rape."

She added that her daughter had told her that whenever the girls tried to fall asleep, they were woken up. "The police are trying to break their spirits, but they won't succeed," she said.
And the police response?
A Judea and Samaria District Police spokesman said in response that "parents with complaints regarding police treatment or behavior are welcome to file a complaint. All complaints will be thoroughly investigated."
Yeah, right. The police are going to 'investigate' themselves. And the sun will rise in the west and set in the east tomorrow. Here's what the ACRI - the local equivalent of the ACLU in the US and about as leftist as they come - had to say about police brutality complaints in their annual report:
Many complaints but isolated cases of trial and the police are still investigation themselves. In 2005 and 2006, the percentage of complaints that came to trial out of the complaints to the police department stood at only 3% against a much higher percentage of trials for civilians. Investigations were only opened with respect to 35% of complaints. In 2006, 57% of complaints were not investigated due to "lack of public interest." The process of giving civilians control over police complaints is still stuck after twelve years.
[To which I added - CiJ] What they aren't telling you is that many of the cases of police brutality related to demonstrations against the Gaza expulsion in 2005 and Amona in 2006. And it's not ACRI that has been pushing to have those complaints investigated - it's the right wing organizations.
The other thing that makes this complaint completely believable is that it has happened before - at Amona in February 2006. From the first link above:
The two-hour meeting was a stormy one, and included many raised voices. The Yesha leaders brought reports from teenaged girls who said that Yassam (special unit) and Magav (Border Guard) policemen had called them prostitutes, threatened to rape them, and touched their private parts.

A 52-year old woman said that when a Yassam policeman took her out of a house in Amona, he placed his hand under her sweater. She slapped him in the face. Other policemen then approached her in a threatening manner, but then left her.
And from the second link:
Arutz Sheva is reporting that during yesterday's protests in 'Amona,' Israeli police intentionally stripped the shirt off a Jewish mother of nine who had recently given birth. Two of the police officers are pictured in the story.


Naomi Shachor, wife of the chief Rabbi of nearby Maaleh Levonah, came over when she saw the policemen trying to arrest a protestor. Naomi says,
"We were trying to pull her back towards us. They grabbed her… I saw her on the ground, and they started to pull off her sweater… The ones who did it and pushed her were men... It was a very terrible and shocking moment for me. I am still trying to get myself together from it."
The assaulted mother identified this policeman as one of the attackers.

The assaulted mother continued,
"As they assaulted me, they began ripping my shirt. With no shame, several officers deliberately ripped off my shirt, and I was left there exposed. At this point, I started resisting so strongly that they backed off of me a bit, I grabbed my shirt from an officer who was holding it, and fled away in shame."

Naomi added, "I felt a lot of shame for her. I felt they crossed a border line that we thought we had, and apparently we don't have anymore. This is part of our modesty... We tried to talk to them afterwards, and they didn't want to understand. [I tried to explain to them] that this is something that shouldn't have been done. We were women; we were standing there democratically speaking out what we think should be said, conveying our feelings without anything else, and it was wrong to do it. [To see policemen violate the dignity of] a woman, a young mother...
And the teenage girls' fate going forward? The Post article continues:
The state prosecutor said that the seven girls have not been released because neither they nor their parents have agreed to divulge their names. "We're talking about girls who are accused of illegal trespassing in a closed military zone, breaking an IDF directive and disrupting the legal process," said a Justice Ministry spokesman. [Unfortunately, declaring areas 'closed military zones' usually has nothing to do with security in this country and everything to do with throwing Jews out of their homes. If there was really a security risk, none of these people would go there. CiJ]

"The girls' release from prison is impossible until they agree to identify themselves," added the spokesman. "That's because we cannot take legal action against the girls unless they divulge their names. Allowing these minors to leave prison before they identify themselves would establish a negative precedent which would allow criminals to avoid prosecution."

Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, director of the National Council for the Child, said that while he did not condone the minors' behavior, he urged the state prosecutor to find a "creative solution" to the plight of the girls that "maintains a strict adherence to the law [and] at the same time prevents an untenable, unjust situation in which minors, who are not labeled as criminal elements, are being held for an indefinite period of time."

The girls are all students at the Ma'ale Levona Torah High School for Girls in Samaria where, according to one parent, "the girls learn a lot of love for the land of Israel, a lot of faith and a lot of truth."

The father of one of the girls said he was very proud of his daughter, who, he said, shouted out during an appearance before a Jerusalem court, "God is my final authority, and we don't recognize you."

"All of the parents got together last week and decided that none of us would divulge names," said the father, who added that he fully supported his daughter's refusal to recognize the authority of the legal system.

"I feel like the institutions in my own country are my enemies. They have no problem making demands of me and my family," added the father of 12.

"Three of my sons serve in elite combat units. They risk their lives to protect this state. But when my daughter tries to exercise her right to settle the land of our forefathers, they treat her worse than an Arab."
And what can happen and has been happening since the expulsion from Gaza is that more and more religious boys are deciding not to serve in combat units - indeed not to serve in the army at all. But then that suits the left perfectly, since they'd like to give the country away and flee to Europe anyway.

Could it have happened? Definitely. Did it happen? Possibly. Maybe even probably. In any event, it's a black mark on the State of Israel. A very black mark.


At 1:31 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

There is always darkness before the dawn. Those who run Israel today are morally bankrupt and have no real answer to Israel's future except to give away everything and hope for the best.

Those who suffer in G-d's Name still believe the Land will be redeemed and the children will return to the borders. There's a good discussion of the phenomenon on A Simple Jew. The girls, by their upright behavior, are sanctifying Hashem in the sight of all Israel.

Jews have encountered oppression throughout their history. In the end, they are still around and they will be around long after Olmert and his post-Zionist generation are history.

At 10:51 PM, Blogger Batya said...

As I just wrote, it's even more complicated. There was no reason to arrest them in the first place.


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