Monday, June 20, 2016

A Personal Story of Harassment by the Nationalistic Crimes Unit. by Eliezer Shekhtman. Hakol HaYehudi Hilltop Youth


BY  ON JUNE 6, 2016

From coming to serve a summons at 3 AM, to attempting to extort $500 after an interrogation, the officers of the Nationalistic Crimes Unit of Judea and Samaria regularly use any means possible to harass Jewish activists. It's time to shut this unit down.

3 A.M. Harassment

It all began with a knock on the door at 3 in the morning. I woke up groggily and asked who was knocking on the door to my small caravan in Yitzhar.

Shouts came back, "Police! Open up!"

Because I have some experience with the types of officers from the Nationalistic Crimes Unit who come knocking on the door at 3 A.M., I demanded to see an order. They shouted that they had an order and I opened up the door. They promptly presented me with a summons to show up for an interrogation in Maale Adumim.

Trying to think as fast as possible at 3 AM, I asked them what the suspicions were and why I was being summoned. They rudely told me to show up and then I'd find out then. Attempts to reason and explain that I won't show up for an interrogation if I don't know what it's about resulted in screaming about how I would be arrested if I didn't show up.

That same night, the officers rudely awoke 6 other people at 3 A.M. One of them was arrested, four were served with administrative orders banning them from Judea and Samaria, and one other received a police summons like I did. The one who received a summons later discovered that despite not having a Facebook profile, the officers of the unit had decided that he was responsible for some post that they considered problematic.

Continuing back to my story, the order said I was supposed to come to interrogation, that same day at 8 A.M. Obviously, 5 hours of advance notice is not nearly enough time to prepare for an interrogation and so I called them to set up a later time. Attempts to ask them to also move the interrogation to the police station nearby in Ariel (a 15 minute drive as opposed to a 90 minute commute) were rejected and in the end we agreed that I would come for interrogation the next week.

Coming to interrogation

I came to the interrogation the following week on my own, still not knowing what I was suspected of. Upon meeting the interrogator, Tal Mizrahi, from the Nationalistic Crimes Unit, he explained that I was suspected of attending the now famous 'Wedding of Love' (commonly referred to in the media as the 'Wedding of Hate.') There were no claims that I held a gun, knife, mock firebomb, or any other object that would convey a threat, instead they merely noted that I was seen dancing in one of the videos from the wedding. Now, the entire investigation into the wedding is quite suspect because (i) while the dancing at the wedding may have been distasteful, it is difficult to say that dancing at a private event is incitement and (ii) Arab weddings often involve not only dancing with guns, but shooting of live rounds. Somehow none of the Arabs from those weddings are ever arrested or interrogated. Nonetheless, discrimination against Jews is the name of the game for the Nationalistic Crimes Unit and so Tal Mizrahi began asking me questions about the wedding, about my relationship with the groom, about the dancing at the wedding and dozens of other quite ridiculous questions that had nothing to do with violating the law. After around 2 hours the questions came to an end.

A surprise demand

I figured that was the end of that. A 3 A.M. wakeup and one lost day of work- it could be worse…Suddenly Mizrahi explained that the police were willing to release me after I deposited 2000 shekels ($500) with them.

This blindside came out of nowhere and as a student in university, I of course had no way to give them $500. I tried to ask him if they could take a lower amount and also noted that it is extremely harsh to demand that after showing up to the police station on my own, I am suddenly being forced to pay in order to be released. I was never arrested and so I didn't understand why I should have to 'post bail.' The request could easily be likened to extortion.

Mizrahi suddenly got very serious and explained that everyone else who had been arrested (note the first difference) on this case had put up the money. Further, after later checking with other guests, I discovered that this was a lie- that's also typical of the Nationalistic Crimes Unit. I explained to him that I had no way to put up the money and that I was certainly not going to post bail based on his demand alone. He would have to take me to a judge.

Mizrahi explained to me that I was now under arrest for refusing to accept my release terms. Somehow, only in retrospect can I appreciate the irony in the situation. After showing up to the police station on my own for interrogation, I was suddenly under arrest for refusing to give the police $500. The Nationalistic Crimes Unit has done crazier of course, but this was still quite insane.

Going before a judge

I waited a few hours in a holding cell in the police station and was soon brought to the court house in handcuffs. Mizrahi brought me along as he went to the court secretary's office to check which judge we were assigned. After one of the secretaries gave him the name of a judge, he asked that a different judge hear the case. I immediately protested, but he told me to pipe down and when I used the word 'corrupt' to describe his behavior, he threatened to charge me with 'insulting a police officer' (which is somehow a crime in Israel). A lawyer from Honenu met me in the courtroom and explained to me that while Mizrahi's actions were technically a reason for recusal, this judge was actually very good.

The lawyer turned out to be right and the judge ordered me released on my own recognizance. The judge noted that the suspicions against me were even less serious than those against the other guests, specifically in that I did not hold a weapon at any time during the wedding.  In the end I did get away with 'just' a 3 A.M. wakeup and one lost day of work, but the officers from the Nationalistic Crimes Unit did their best to harass me as much as they could. Unfortunately for them, there are still some remnant elements of justice remaining in the Israeli court system.

Of course the unit does its best to circumvent these elements through administrative orders, administrative detentions, and many other extra-judicial tools. Had I not demanded to see a judge, they would have gotten $500 from me that would have been a bureaucratic nightmare to get back   Further they make sick and cynical claims about needing to keep suspects under arrest for lengthy investigations when in fact they have no intentions of ever filing an indictment and/or are certain the suspect will be acquitted. Aside from that they continue to make raids in the middle of the night merely to harass Jewish youths and activists.

In short, the time has come to close down this unit and fire its officers for their behaviors. I can even recommend one officer to let go of first…


Robin Ticker

Israel Advocacy Calendar (
Activist emails sent to my list  are L'Ilui Nishmat Yisrael ben David Aryeh ob"m (Izzy - Kaplan) and Howard Chaim Grief great activists and lovers of Eretz Yisroel, Am Yisroel and the Torah. Yehi Zichronum Baruch.  May their memories serve as a blessing. 

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