Israeli Court Remands Right-wing Activists Over Provocation Near Jordan Border

15 arrested after crossing border fence, seizing abandoned churches in a deliberate attempt to gain attention of the Jordanian authorities.

The Jerusalem District Court remanded 15 right-wing activists on Wednesday, for their part in a provocation on the Israel-Jordan border on Monday night.

The 15 crossed the border fence separating Israel and Jordan, seized abandoned churches near the Qasr al-Yahud holy site, believed site of Jesus' baptism, in a deliberate provocation. They were arrested and remanded for the first time early Tuesday morning.

Israel security forces - Lior Mizrahi - December 2011
Lior Mizrahi

At first the Jerusalem magistrate's court's judge Oded Shaham decided to release the suspects, commenting that while their actions were serious the investigation didn’t require their continued imprisonment. This decision was appealed by the police.

The appeal was accepted by the District Court's Aryeh Romanov, who remanded the suspects for an additional three days, though the police only asked for two.

A friend of one of the suspects said that it seemed that “Judge Romanov acted like he had been ordered to rule by someone from the government.”

Atorney Naftali Wurzberge, who is representing the suspects commented on the decision saying: “We are considering appealing to the Supreme Court. Instead of the court protecting democracy and freedom of speech, the court joined forces with those trying to limit democracy and unjustly harm freedom of speech.”