Israeli Police Wrongly Arrested a Palestinian Man. Then the Judge Opted to Hold Him for Five Days ‘Because of the Holidays’

Judge refused to examine the claims that the High Court had granted the man permission to stay in the country, but released him hours later after seeing the document

Be'er Shave Magistrate Court
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

A judge extended by five days the remand of a Palestinian man suspected of staying in Israel without a permit, without reviewing documents proving he had a High Court injunction permitting him to be in the country since getting them was difficult "because of the holidays." Later, when the lawyer obtained the proof, the judge released him.

At court, the 20-year-old from the village of Yatta in the Hebron Hills claimed that the police had made a mistake and that he possesses an injunction from the High Court of Justice permitting him to remain in Israel. The Be'er Sheva Magistrate’s Court judge, Orit Lipzyc, extended his remand anyway. The suspect’s attorney, Muhamed Abu Obaid of the Justice Ministry’s Public Defense department, told Haaretz that the judge rejected his request to examine the claims and asserted that she had no time to do so because she had “many cases.” Hours after she extended his remand, Abu Obaid presented the documents proving his client's presence in Israel was legal, and the judge was forced to release him.

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The police arrested the Palestinian man in Be’er Sheva on Thursday, asserting that he had entered Israel illegally. The young man told investigators he had petitioned the High Court to allow him to stay in the country on the grounds that his life was in danger because he had collaborated with the Israeli security service.

The High Court had granted his request, with Justice Isaac Amit issuing a temporary restraining order on May 18 forbidding the youth’s expulsion until further notice. He ordered the state to respond by July 2, and the state has requested several extensions since then, leaving the restraining order in place.

Although the Palestinian man showed the police the order, they were not convinced it was valid and brought him before the judge on Friday. A police representative, Avinoam Ben-David, admitted in court that the young man had shown the decision to the police but remarked that although they could not tell whether the decision was valid, they did not check with the High Court division within the State Prosecutor’s office because “it’s the holidays.” According to the police, they needed documents from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, but the soldiers who were supposed to provide the documents were on vacation.

Abu Obaid told the judge about the High Court's restraining order and gave her the High Court file number but the judge didn’t check the claims before extending his remand. Judge Lipzyc wrote in her decision that she was convinced by the police that there was a reasonable basis for fearing that releasing the young man would obstruct the investigation and endanger public safety.

“Based on everything said, and in light of the holiday season, and noting that some of the units charged with releasing public servant documents do not work full time during this period, there is no recourse, and I hereby order the remand of the respondent until September 25 at 2 PM,” she wrote.

Later in the day, once Abu Obaid obtained the High Court documents, Judge Lipzyc ordered the police to release the young man immediately. The judge did not reprimand the police for its behavior, which led to the false arrest of the man for over a day.