A young woman from Belarus who came to Israel to give testimony about her husband’s violence was detained by police about a week ago because her residency permit had expired, even though she is arranging her status at the Interior Ministry. The judge released her, criticizing the police.
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The woman, 25, came to Israel as a tourist in November with her husband, and they lived in Haifa. She had no work permit and the couple struggled financially. The woman said her husband attacked her, leaving a deep cut in her back that required stitches. Her attorney said police were called to the couple’s home by neighbors who heard shouting and suspected violence. “They took her to the police station to take testimony about her husband’s violence and treated her like a plaintiff, until she was asked to bring some ID so she could be sent to a shelter for battered women, and then they realized that her visa had expired, and they handcuffed her.”
The police wanted to extend her detention by four days for suspected violation of the Entry Into Israel Law, then changed the request to a few hours in order to transfer her to the immigration authorities. Judge Ziv Arieli criticized the police, saying they should have checked her status after she claimed she had submitted a request to arrange it. He added that she had cooperated with the police from the start, and ordered her release on condition that she report for an investigation at any time, and sign a personal guarantee for 3,000 shekels. ($850).
Her husband was arrested during the week and indicted for assault, with a request for detention until the conclusion of legal proceedings. The woman turned to the Population and Immigration Authority and arranged her residency permit, previously denied because her father baptized her as a child and she was registered as having converted.
The woman told Haaretz it was very hard for her in detention. “I remained without support, so I couldn’t pay the 200 shekels to renew the visa. Now friends have loaned me money to renew it.
“They told me that I would stay in detention in order to check my visa. I became a suspect instead of a plaintiff,” she said, noting that she didn’t have the money to pay the hospital bill for her stitches, either.
Police said the purpose of leaving the woman in police custody was to help her in her distress and safeguard her after she refused to go to a shelter, while there was still a fear of her belligerent partner. They added that they helped her arrange a temporary residency permit at the Interior Ministry, and conducted a quick investigation to find and arrest her husband.
The Population and Immigration Authority said the woman is arranging her status, but for her own reasons refused to renew her legal residency permit, and that this apparently was the source of the misunderstanding.