Hebron protester freed despite denying state's authority

Fifteen-year-old girl released; parents ordered to provide guarantees for her behavior.

police arrest settler  (photo credit: AP)
police arrest settler
(photo credit: AP)
A 15-year-old Jewish girl who was indicted for being present during a violent protest in Hebron last week has been sent home by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court Wednesday after it ordered her and her parents to provide guarantees for her behavior. Police had asked the court to remand her in custody until the end of proceedings after she refused to agree to conditions for her release, saying that she did not recognize the authority of the state. The 15-year-old, released on Wednesday, was arrested along with 17 other girls while demonstrating against construction of a wall intended to protect a Palestinian-owned building inside the Jewish Quarter. Attorney Chaim Cohen and Orit Struck, head of the Human Rights in Judea, Samaria and Gaza organization, said the 15-year-old should not have been arrested in the first place, since she has not been accused of taking part in the violence at last week's protest. She should have been released unconditionally, they said. Three months ago, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz offered immunity to anyone filing a complaint against police brutality or testifying to such events at the evacuation on the Amona outpost, as long they did not actively participate in violence, according to letters from the Attorney-General's Office that surfaced on Thursday. According to attorney Chaim Cohen, who represents the Human Rights in Judea, Samaria and Gaza organization, the promise of immunity was made in letters sent to him on March 12 and March 23 that were signed by Mazuz's deputy, Ran Nizri. "The attorney-general, in his appearance before the parliamentary committee to investigate the events at Amona, made it clear there was no reason for concern that criminal proceedings would be initiated against anyone filing a complaint regarding the fact that he was present during the evacuation procedure," Nizri wrote in the letters. "It should be stressed… that we are talking about taking measures against someone who was in the area, not someone who committed a crime of violence or assault." Cohen said he had requested the guarantee so that witnesses could testify concerning the violence at Amona on February 1 without fear of retaliation. He told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that this agreement should also apply to the 15-year-old in Hebron, whose only alleged crime was that she was present during the demonstration. Most of the 17 teenagers arrested with her are accused of employing violence, but she and three others were only accused of being present at the protest. Initially, four of the 17 refused to sign documents containing the conditions for their release on the grounds that they did not recognize the authority of the state. In the end, the 15-year-old was one of only two girls who remained in jail because they refused to sign. The other of the two has been charged with using violence and her trial is due to start on Friday.