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Monday, July 28, 2008

JERUSALEM — An Israeli court has ordered three Jews expelled from the
West Bank without a trial or evidence as part of a military clampdown on
Jewish movement in the region.

Jerusalem Magistrate Ilta Siskind ordered the three who live in West
Bank Jewish communities, Efrion Oppenheimer, Arieh Davis and Alexander
Ostrovsky, expelled from the region for 90 days despite the lack of a
complainant or evidence or correct identification procedures.

“Before me is a request to release the suspects on the condition that
they are expelled from Judea and Samaria for the period of 90 days, a bond
and a third party guarantee and that they will appear before the police when
called,” Siskind said on July 24. “The expulsion from Judea and Samaria is
until Oct. 10, 2008, except for the area of their homes. The personal bond
and the third party guarantee is set at 10,000 [$2,942] shekels each to
ensure the conditions for their release and they will appear before police
when requested.”

The three and a 17 year-old were arrested on July 23 as they reached the
Jewish community of Maalei Michmas, after they set out for a hike with at
least another six youths from Kochav HaShachar in Samaria. Police said the
other six youths fled and escaped arrest.

According to the police charge sheet, based on reports from Bedouins and
Palestinians, at least 10 youths in the group were involved in piercing
tractor tires and a water pipe along the way between Kochav Hashachar and
Maalei Michmas. But the first complainant cited on the charge sheet hadn’t
made a complaint.

“The complainant hasn’t yet come to complain,” police detective Yair
Aharon told Siskind. “But we have his details and he will reach us through
the sheikh.”

Aharon said that the group continued on the hike and vandalized other
tractor wheels and water pipes although, police said, they didn’t have any
physical evidence of the damage and had failed to investigate the

“The evidence that we have is that of the complainants themselves who
pointed to the [Jewish] residents,” Aharon said. “For example, Ostrovsky was
in the area with his big mixed breed [canani] dog. He was with al the group
but they [Bedoiun] didn’t say that he caused any damage but he was with the
others on this ‘hike’. Regarding the suspect Davis, he said he didn’t do
anything but afterwards, he refused to cooperate [with the investigation].”

Davis said that the police did not conduct a live identity line-up, or a
photographic identity procedure.

“They brought a [Bedouin] into the investigation room and he pointed,”
Davis said. “They [police] said because I was part of the group so I was
responsible for what happened.”

The Bedoiun also failed to identify the third suspect as someone who
participated in the alleged vandalism.

“About Efrion, they said that he was with the others and he had an M-16
[rifle],” Aharon said.

Defense Attorney Reuven Hamburger asked whether [Efrion] Oppenheimer had
threatened anyone.

“None of them was identified as someone who punctured tires or
threatened with weapons but everyone said they were in the area,” Aharon

The police detective then advised the magistrate to accept police
recommendations for punishment to deter other young Jews from hiking in
Judea and Samaria, between the Jewish communities and disturbing the
Palestinians and Bedouin.

“We are speaking about a hike that is organized for the purpose of
causing damage and destruction,” Aharon said. “I know that next week there
is going to a similiar exhibition [hike]. I believe that the decision of the
court will have consequences and an influence and they will learn how to
behave because of this decision and if the court will agree to our request,
this will prevent phenomenon like these,” Aharon said.

Israeli civil rights organizations have criticized the police and the
court for not investigating before punishing the suspects.

“We haven’t received a complaint but on the face of it, it appears that
there is a lack of justice,” Nirit Moskowitz, spokesperson for the
Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said. “They should investigate

Left-wing activists also criticized the hastiness with which the army
has recently issued closed military zone orders in an effort to clamp down
on the movement of Jews within Judea and Samaria.

On July 24, buses carrying young hikers to the march through Judea and
Samaria were stopped at roadblocks by a military order restricting entrance
of Jews who were not residents of Samaria.

“No person shall pass the roadblock unless he has permission from me or
from someone whom I have authorized,” the order issued by Samaria Brigade
Commander, Col.Yitzhak Bar, on his third day in the position, said. “This is
required for security purposes and for maintaining public order.”

The office of Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni, head of central command, denied the
existence of the order but the closure was heavily criticized.

“It’s good that an extreme officer has reduced to the absurd the legal
status that exists in Judea and Samaria whereby hundreds of thousands of
Jews are living under military rule and are subject to his impulsive mood
swings,” National Union parliamentarian Benny Elon said.

The army has recently issued an abundance of closed military zone orders
that has also angered left-wing activists.

“The army rushes too quickly to issue ‘closed military zone orders’ and
to prevent the entrance of Israelis into the area,” Yariv Oppeneheimer, head
of Peace Now, said.

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