Settlers indicted for Ephraim base attack 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post))
The Supreme Court ruled on Sunday to uphold the release to house arrest of five
activists indicted for gathering military information regarding
government-ordered demolitions of unauthorized West Bank outposts.
5 pro-settlement extremists indicted for attacking IDF base
state had appealed against a Jerusalem District Court ruling last week to
release the five men to full house arrest, arguing they should be remanded in
custody throughout the proceedings against them.
The five men, David Tzvi
Eliyahu, 17; Meir Etinger, 18; Akiva Pinchas Hacohen, 27; Ephraim Moshe Chaykin,
18; and Elad Meir, 36, were indicted in the Jerusalem District Court last week
on a string of charges, including gathering military intelligence, conspiracy to
riot, conspiracy to enter a military base, and conspiracy to obstruct a public
Hacohen is also charged with obstructing the course of justice
by lying to officers searching his home about a cellphone in his
At the request of the state, the five men had remained in
custody pending the Supreme Court’s ruling on the state’s
According to the indictment, the men conspired to thwart
government-ordered demolitions of unauthorized West Bank outposts by obtaining
military intelligence about the planned evacuations. To gather reports of
military movements and plans, the five defendants allegedly established a “war
room” call center.
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Allegedly, they coordinated reports from other
activists, including IDF soldiers in active service.
They wanted to be
able to warn activists so they could gather at outposts and prevent
The indictment charges that the activities carried out by
the defendants prevented the evacuation of unlawful structures in the Mitzpe
Yitzhar outpost, near Nablus, in December. Following the information-gathering
activities of the five defendants, around 50 activists clashed with soldiers outside the Ephraim Regional Brigade base
on December 12. During the riot, the
brigade commander was wounded and army vehicles were damaged.
the state asked the court to remand the five men in custody, the Jerusalem
District Court ruled last week that they should be released to house arrest for
the duration of the trial.
That decision came after lawyers for the men
argued their actions had been legitimate protest activities, that the existence
of the “war room” had been well-known, and that their main activity had been
organizing nonviolent protests.
In appealing the district court’s ruling
in the Supreme Court, however, the state argued that releasing the five men from
custody undermined the rule of law, and said the defendants had organized and
initiated “criminal acts on ideological grounds.”
However, in ruling to
reject the state’s appeal and uphold the district court’s decision to release
the men to house arrest, Justice Isaac Amit noted that the five men had not been
directly involved in the violent activities at the Ephraim Brigade base, and
that the question of whether their actions resulted in the riot would be
elucidated during the criminal trial.
Amit said the grounds for remanding
defendants in custody during legal proceedings are “an integral part of the
rules of the game of the laws of arrest.”
“In a democratic country, the
rules of the game cannot be changed, not even for those like the [defendants]
who make use of nondemocratic measures,” the justice said.
judgment, MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) said the Supreme Court should have
ordered the defendants’ release without conditions, rather than to full house
“In a democracy, organizing protests against the expulsion of
Jews is permitted,” Ben-Ari said.
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