Combat soldiers kept in jail even after suspicions fell flat

Three IDF combat soldiers in their mandatory military service were arrested at the start of the week by the Judea-Samaria district police's nationalistic crime division on suspicions of having struck an Arab.

However, the three were kept in jail by police even though they denied any connection to the event, provided an alternate version, and were not identified by the Arab in a line-up.

The court accepted the position of the soldiers' lawyers and ordered that they be released.

The soldiers were arrested on Sunday due to the complaint of an Arab man, who claimed that last week on Saturday he was attacked by Jews after he arrived at the spring adjacent to the town of Neria in the Binyamin region of Samaria.

That same Shabbat the three soldiers took a walk outside of Neria where they live; when they returned to the town they were questioned by other soldiers and their names were written down.

Over a week later the Judea-Samaria district police decided to arrest two of the soldiers, who denied any connection to the incident under investigation and said there were several other groups of people walking outside the town that same Shabbat.

The two were brought in for a hearing at the Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court, where Attorney Chai Haber of the Honenu legal aid organization represented them. Haber told the judges he was convinced the two were not connected to the case.

But the judge decided to extend their arrest by three days, even while noting that if the investigation's findings weakened the suspicions against the two police should consider releasing them before the three days were up.

Later on the third soldier was also arrested. On Monday a suspect identification line-up was conducted, in which the complaining Arab man did not identify the three as those who hit him.

"Same invalid norms of 'Hilltop Youth'"

Even though the complainant did not identify them, the three were brought in for yet another hearing on Tuesday, in which the police asked to extend their arrest again.

The judge rejected the police request and ordered that the three be released with distancing orders from the village where the Arab man lives.

"As we warned in the past, the establishment of the nationalistic crimes division in the Judea-Samaria district police causes a serious harm to soldiers, officers and citizens who turn to us for help," said Honenu in a statement, condemning the police treatment of the case.

"It appears that the invalid norms that took root in the unit regarding treatment of the 'Hilltop Youth' is now turned against combat soldiers in the IDF from towns based in Judea and Samaria, even when it's clear even to the police that they have no connection to the incident."

Attorney Ori Keinan, who represented two of the soldiers for Honenu in the last hearing on the case, said he is "surprised that the Judea-Samaria district police are dealing with this matter and I'm surprised even more that they just pounced on combat soldiers in mandatory service who are not involved in the incident."

Keinan added that "even after they were not identified by the complainant we were forced to receive the decision for a release from the court as the police investigators continued to petition to extend the arrest."

In a response to Arutz Sheva, the Judea-Samaria district police said that the investigation has not yet ended and at the current stage it cannot comment on the claims.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/208861

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