Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tzviya Sariel is Acquitted

Another ridiculous chapter in the annals of the Israeli Judicial System comes to an end:
Judge Nava Bechor of the Kfar Saba Magistrates Court acquitted 18-year-old Tzviya Sariel this afternoon (Wednesday) on charges of having pushed an Arab man three and a half months ago. Tzviya has been in prison ever since the incident, apparently because she refused to cooperate with the legal system, sign papers, or accept legal defense.

Judge Bechor, who showed impatience with both the defendant and the prosecution during the course of the 3.5-month-long case, announced her verdict around 3 PM, explaining that it was based on "reasonable doubt."

In a session two weeks ago, the Arab complainant essentially withdrew his accusations against Tzviya - which he said he never knowingly signed in the first place. He did not identify Tzviya as the party who allegedly pushed him, and told the court, "We are not interested in the accused being incarcerated, because she is a young girl... I tell you, in the name of the Haj, we are willing to withdraw the complaint because we want peace..."

The complainant also testified that he had been duped by the police into signing the charges against Tzviya. He said he had been ordered to sign something he could barely read: "When the police wrote, I don't know what they wrote. I just signed. They told me to bring my identity card and to sign. The person who wrote my statement in Arabic spoke in Hebrew..."

Despite this, Justice Bechor ordered Tzviya held in jail until the next session, which she originally scheduled for a month later. Shmuel Medad of the Honenu legal rights organization, who has been following the case closely, told Arutz-7 at the time, "There is simply a plot and scheme to keep Tzviyah in jail, for no justified reason... Even the judge herself seemed ashamed to keep Tzviyah in jail for another month. It's either orders from above or I don't know what, but the judge ran out without announcing the decision - she had the stenographer do it for her - and did not seem to be happy or proud of her ruling."

Tzviya had become a heroine of sorts in many circles, saying repeatedly that she refused to have any part in what she saw as a "show." She further said that no non-Torah-based legal system has the right to void Jewish national rights over any parts of the Land of Israel.

She remained consistent up to the very end, refusing even to allow a representative to sign a paper that would have enabled her to be freed a day earlier. Professor Hillel Weiss, of the Professors for a Strong Israel, had agreed to post a 5,000-shekel bond and take personal responsibility that she would appear for future court dates - beginning with the reading of the verdict on April 3. However, Tzviya refused to allow him to sign for her, whereupon the judge - "owing to the special circumstances of this case," she announced - agreed to advance the verdict reading to today.

The girl's stubborness was not appreciated in some religious-Zionist circles, however. Some felt that her parents and teachers were to blame for not encouraging her to do the minimum necessary to get her out of prison.

Tzviya's friends, however, were very supportive throughout her ordeal. "What goes on in the courtroom and police stations is truly a farce," one school friend [name withheld at her request] told Arutz-7. "The police simply make up accusations, and the judge makes rulings that have nothing to do with justice. She refuses to identify herself, so she has to stay in prison with criminals for weeks and weeks? What does that have to do with justice?"


Medad told Arutz-7 after the decision, "This case was unjustified from beginning to end. It was aroused by Iyad Amar, a Druze deputy commander in the Civil Administration, who cajoled the Arabs to enter the town of Elon Moreh and pick olives - after 20 years of not being allowed to do so, because it was the exact spot where Arabs of that village killed a young boy named Rami Haba. But this time, Amar told them that if they don't come to pick olives, they will be betraying their people... And then, this past Friday, the Rabbinic Court for the Nation and the Land ordered her release, yet for some reason, this order was simply never implemented."

The Public Committee for Tzviya, headed by former Gush Katif resident Datia Yitzchaki, announced that it is looking, together with Honenu, into the possibility of suing the Civil Administration offices who "arranged the provocation in the first place," as well as people in the State Prosecution and Prison Service who "abused and harassed" Tzviya.

Women in Green announced: "Tzviya represents the wonderful youth that is loyal to the Land of Israel and that fears neither the internal enemy nor the external enemy, and that with G-d's help will soon activate the Jewish revolution that we are all anticipating in order to attain the turnabout in which, as we will read in the Book of Esther on Purim [this week], 'the Jews will rule over their enemies.'"

Homesh First announced, "It has been proven once again that the State Prosecution is the enemy of the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, and runs a campaign of persecution against them while selectively enforcing the law."

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