'Meager Suspicion': Israeli Left-wing Activist Jonathan Pollak Released From Custody

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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Jonathan Pollak at a Jerusalem protest, last year.
Jonathan Pollak at a Jerusalem protest, last year.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

Left-wing activist Jonathan Pollak was released from custody Wednesday after an Israeli court judge dismissed as “meager, to say the least” a police complaint filed against Pollack by the right-wing group Ad Kan.

Police in Ariel arrested Pollak Tuesday evening for refusing to agree to a restraining order that he keep out of the West Bank.

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Pollak, a Haaretz employee, was summoned for questioning at the Ariel police station in the West Bank on suspicions he participated in a protest in the Palestinian town of Kadum last year.

At the hearing on extending his detention, Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court Judge Dorit Saban Noy, ordered him released, saying that the “reasonable suspicion presented to me is meager, to say the least.”

The criminal complaint states that Pollak took part in a violent protest during which rocks were thrown at Israeli soldiers and tires were set on fire. Ad Kan presented pictures from the protest in which Pollak is seen, and the organization made a number of complaints against him for allegedly throwing rocks and assaulting soldiers.

He was questioned on suspicions of rioting and interfering with the work of a public servant, and at the end of the questioning Pollak refused to sign his acceptance of the conditions of his release – and was arrested.

Judge Dorit Saban Noy said during the hearing that “the investigating unit did not even provide [her] with the video in which the defendant can allegedly be seen committing the crimes.”

Moreover, the judge said she was not presented with the information on what investigative steps were taken. “Given these circumstances, it is regrettable that the suspect was brought to the court under arrest and that he was not released yesterday in the police station – even if he refused to agree to a restraining order to stay out of Judea and Samaria,” she said. 

In January 2020, police officers arrested Pollak at Haaretz’s offices to carry out a subpoena issued after he refused to appear for hearings in his criminal case. In February 2020, he was questioned on suspicion of incitement to terror, after he wrote in an article published on the website of Haaretz in Hebrew. Pollak wrote, among other things: “Yes, we must cross the lines and break the law. Despite the price, we must join the children of the stones and firebombs. We must march in their footsteps.” These sentences were removed from the article shortly after its publication on the website, and did not appear in the print version of the newspaper.

In July 2020, Pollak was assaulted outside the Haaretz building by two men, who punched him and scratched his face with a knife. Pollak, an activist in the organization Anarchists Against the Wall, said the men called him a “leftist” and “anarchist.”

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