Date added: 3/25/2008
JERUSALEM — For the young Jewish girl, Z., her night in jail was an
experience she never learned in school.
Arrested at an anti-government demonstration, the Jewish teenager
learned first-hand that the harsh policy of the government of Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert against Jewish dissent.
In treatment that jurists deemed harsher than that for alleged violent
criminals, Z. and her friends were denied food, water and medical treatment
and thrown into horrible conditions.
“They [police] took me to the jail in the Russian Compound [in
Jerusalem] and I waited with the other two girls in a very small room with
bars on the window,” Z. said. “After a long wait, they took me for a body
search.” Z. recounted that she spent much of the night being shunted back
and forth between the police station and the jail.
“Then they put me in a room while they looked for a holding cell with an
old blanket and a mattress,” Z. said. “Then they put me in a cell with two
other girls and an old woman. She smoked all the time and I couldn’t
Z.’s account has been verified by the Israel Bar Association. In a
report by the Prisons Service Committee of the Israel Bar Association, the
conditions in which Z. and four girls arrested with her were held were
The conditions of their imprisonment are “harsh, inhumane and illegal,”
the report said.
The report said that police and prison guards had conditioned food,
water and medical attention on the minors agreeing to identify themselves.
“Medical attention and food and water were conditioned on the disclosure
of the girls’ identities,” the report said. “Such conditions are baseless
and are a serious violation of their rights.”
The report also detailed how the girls were given “stinky, soiled,
military blankets” and they shared a cell with an adult woman who was a
chain smoke. The cell “was full of cigarette smoke and had no ventilation
aperture,” the report said.
The five girls, ranging in age from 14 to 17, were arrested on March 16
at the end of a demonstration on Jerusalem’s Promenade, located in the East
Talpiot neighborhood. The demonstration was in protest against the
government’s refusal to destroy the home in the adjoining neighborhood of
Jabal Mukhaber of the Arab attacker, Ala Abu Dheim, who killed eight Jewish
teenagers on March 6 in the Mercaz Harav seminary in Jerusalem.
Witnesses said that most of the 22 people arrested at the demonstration
were minors and were simply grabbed by police.
Z. said they were given some bread and water during the night but prison
wardens and police threatened them that food and water and medical attention
would be withheld if they didn’t identify themselves.
“Early in the morning they woke us up to stand to attention and told us
that we had to go to court,” Z. said. “I sat there waiting for them but they
didn’t come and at 10.00 am they gave us two slices of bread and a
Z., who had sustained injuries during the demonstration, complained to
prison guards that she was feeling sick but was denied medical treatment.
“I was sick so I asked for tea from the prison guard, Z. said. “He told
me there weren’t any cups so he gave me tea in the cup belonging to the old
woman in the cell and she was angry with me.”
Z. said that prison guards assured her that she would be able to see the
doctor but then said he was unavailable.
. “We were supposed to see the doctor and he would be able to get me a cup
of tea,” Z. said, “but they [prison wardens] told me that he wasn’t
Z. said that they were given stale pasta but later forced to eat with
“Then they [prison guards] gave us some old yellow spaghetti to eat,” Z.
said. “Then a female prison guard said that if we didn’t identify ourselves,
we wouldn’t get any more food to eat. After we finished eating we threw out
our plastic spoons.”
Z. said that the situation improved after two attorneys from the Israel
Bar Association spoke with the girls.
“Then the two lawyers came and they [prison guards] gave us some more
food,” Z. said. “We asked for more spoons but the prison warden told us that
we had thrown out our spoons and now would have to eat with our hands.”
Police can hold people for up to 24 hours before bringing them before a
judge to extend their remand and Z. was released 16 hours after her arrest.
“Then they called me to sign the agreement and put me in a closed room
and shut the window slit,” Z. said. “I waited for hours for someone to get
Police later admitted to a Jerusalem magistrate that there was no reason
for the arrest of the girls.
The Prison Services Committee, headed by attorney Michael Attiya, has
recommended submitting the report to Public Security Minister Avi Dichter,
Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to
correct the civil rights violations.