Police to Hold Left-wing Activist, Palestinian Despite Court Order

After activists ordered released from detention to house arrest, police announces they will be held overnight on grounds that decision is being appealed.

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A close-up of leg cuffs on a person in a court in Jerusalem.
A close-up of leg cuffs on a person in a court in Jerusalem. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

The Israel Police announced on Wednesday evening that it would hold a left-wing activist and a Palestinian human rights worker another evening even though a Jerusalem court had ordered both to be released from detention, on the grounds that it intends to appeal the judge's decision in both cases on Thursday.

A gag order has been place on the details of both cases. The Jerusalem District Court will hear the appeals on Thursday.

A judge in Jerusalem had ordered the police earlier in the day to end the detention of the left-wing activist, who was arrested last week on suspicion of passing information to a foreign agent, and the human rights worker. They were to remain under house arrest.

The judge postponed his decision by an hour to give time to the police to appeal to the Jerusalem District Court. In a separate decision, the remand of another leftist activist who was arrested on Tuesday was extended by a day. There is a gag order on details of that investigation, too.

The first activist was arrested last week at Ben-Gurion International Airport. The police sought to extend his remand on Wednesday by a day, even though the judge on Monday had suggested not requesting a remand extension in light of the evidence. Dozens of leftist activists demonstrated outside the judge's home on Wednesday morning.

"You can't ignore the feeling that this is a case of disproportional incrimination that is disconnected from reality, which is basically dangerous political persecution whose goal is to silence others," said Michal Hochberg of Combatants for Peace. "Today it is these leftwing activists, but it's clear to me that tomorrow it will be all of us, and we won't shut up in the face of the fearmongering and silencing of opposition to the occupation."

Overnight, the Israel Defense Forces arrested the Palestinian human rights activist from the southern Hebron Hills and transferred him to the Judea and Samaria District police for interrogation. Investigators did not inform the arrested man's lawyer as to the suspicions against him.

According to his family, the arrest involved violence. His father said that around 2 A.M. soldiers took the family by surprise when they surrounded its home.

"My son knows how to speak Hebrew, and he was talking with one of the officers," he said. "After they separated him from the rest of my family, they handcuffed him and confiscated his phones and left."

The father said the soldiers did not conduct a search of the house. "We have no idea why he was arrested," he said. "I know that my son is an activist in a human rights group, and isn't linked to anything that hurts Israel's security or anyone else."