Israeli Court Rejects Charges That Settler Youth Broke the Law by Entering West Bank

The Jewish minor from the so-called 'hilltop youth', a radical settler group, was accused of violating a military order banning him from the West Bank

Yotam Berger
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Members of the so-called hilltop youth, 2010
Members of the so-called hilltop youth, 2010Credit: AFP
Yotam Berger

An Israeli judge on Tuesday rejected accusations that a Jewish teen settler had violated a military order banning him from the West Bank.

The youth belongs to a group dubbed in Israel 'hilltop youth'- hardline, religious adolescent settlers who live in the West Bank and partake in activities against the Israeli government. 

The teen was also been accused of disturbing police work, but was acquitted of that, too, with the judge citing technical errors made by police in pursuing the case.

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Administrative orders were issued in 2016 limiting the youth's freedom of movement. The orders didn't require any court review. He was required at first to stay with his parents and leave only with police permission. Later on he was banned from West Bank areas beyond the settlement where he resides.

When he failed to provide another address where he could reside, the IDF ordered the youth to stay at a farm in Israel where he could work in exchange for lodging.

The youth was later charged with failing to appear at the farm and showing up at his parents' home in the West Bank, in June 2016, instead. 

The judge at the juvenile court in Petach Tikvah, Sharon P. Halevy, said that even the fact that the youth was asked one during his investigation why didn't he open the door (to investigators who looked for him at his parents' home),  without having been informed that he was suspected of committing a crime, damaged the legal case against him.

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"The accused was asked only once why he didn't open the door to police. The policeman who questioned him didn't understand he (the youth) was suspected of disturbing police. I see it fitting to inform the police that investigators must make it clear to minors who are questioned under caution what the suspicions are against them," the judge wrote in her verdict.

The judge also criticized the army's attempt to force the youth to work at a farm even though he didn't find an alternative place to live. "None of them checked the conditions at the site. Neither did any of them tell the accused or his attorney that his stay there was conditional upon his working at the site," she said.