Two Palestinian men from the West Bank were held for more than 24 hours this week on suspicion of entering Israel illegally, even though they had permits allowing them to enter Israel. The men claimed that these permits were taken by police during their questioning and not returned to them.
The police say the two did not have the appropriate permits and that just before their detention they had sent a request for such a permit to the coordination and liaison department of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. The police said that after receiving these permits the two were released.
The case involved an early Sunday morning police operation aimed at arresting suspects close to the separation barrier in the southern West Bank. At the end of the operation the police wished to extend the remand of five Palestinians. In a hearing at the Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court the police found out that one of the men had the required permit and agreed to release him immediately.
A few hours later it was verified that another man also had a permit, and he too was released. The three others had no permits.
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In its ruling the court said the police had filled the request forms for extending the remand before the men had finished being questioned, and that reports detailing their continued detention had not been properly filled.
According to testimonies, the men were arrested at 4 A.M., but were not informed until 10:30 A.M. that they were being held. In order to hold a person for more than three hours an officer must give his approval and fill the relevant report. In the file submitted to the court on Monday, 24 hours after the arrest, these documents were missing, with no record of the time the men were detained.
The judge determined that the five suspects had been questioned between 12:49 and 3:06 P.M., while the request to extend their remand was typed at 12:50 and printed out at 12:54. This means the police filled out the forms before the men were questioned. The judge wrote that this contravenes the law and is counter to police procedures.
Lail Patishi, a public defender who represented the men, called the incident “a clear case of unlawful arrest and of disgraceful and inhuman treatment.”
According to Patishi, the men were arrested at around 4 A.M. They remained handcuffed for several hours before being brought to the police station.
“The men claimed they received no food until the next morning and were brought before a judge more than 24 hours after their arrest,” Patishi said.
“The fact that detention reports were not filled, in addition to other flaws in documenting the incident by the police points to a cover-up. This incident emphasizes how easily the rights of detainees are violated, especially when they are not citizens of Israel, and how important the judicial oversight of police work is,” Patishi added.