Daily Israel Report
More

Zion's Corner Blogs


U.S. Incarceration Of Five Israelis Sparks Hard Questions

Why have five young Israelis been detained for over six weeks in a maximum-security facility in New York on charges of minor immigration violations? Why have their deportation orders, which were issued one month ago, not yet been implemented? Why have the American authorities not taken note of the fact that, according to persons very close to the case, at least one of the five is on the verge o
First Publish: 10/26/2001, 2:59 PM

Why have five young Israelis been detained for over six weeks in a maximum-security facility in New York on charges of minor immigration violations? Why have their deportation orders, which were issued one month ago, not yet been implemented? Why have the American authorities not taken note of the fact that, according to persons very close to the case, at least one of the five is on the verge of mental collapse? These are just some of the angry questions Jews in Israel are beginning to ask as more details of this bizarre case come to light.

The five, at least one of whom has asked to remain anonymous in order not to alarm his ill father and other ailing relatives, were originally arrested on Sept. 11 on charges relating to the Bin-Laden terrorist attacks. After up to 16 hours of \"unpleasant\" questioning, the investigators realized that they had made a mistake - but decided to keep the Israelis in jail anyway because their visas had expired. \"The boys received deportation orders on Sept. 25,\" Atty. Steve Gordon, the New York attorney of one of them, said, \"and I admit, I have no explanation as to why they have not yet been deported. Nor can I understand why they are being held in a maximum-security facility. Either the U.S. government is not telling us everything, or else it\'s true that the Immigration Service simply does not have enough manpower to implement the orders, as they claim.\"

Meanwhile, however, the five are suffering greatly. The mother of one told Arutz-7\'s Yosef Zalmanson that she has it from a \"first-hand source\" that one of them is in \"very dangerous psychological condition,\" and that the others are also suffering. The parents are in close contact with one another, and have become, the mother said, a support group for each other. \"Hopefully, when the boys return, we will be able to tell the full story of how we helped each other,\" she said. She said that she was not allowed to communicate with her son during the six weeks following the arrests. When told that the Consul-General in New York had said that they might be released \"next week,\" she said, \"Of course they *might* be - but there has been no indication at all that anything has changed since a month or six weeks ago. The whole thing is one big question mark.\"

\"Even the Israeli Consul-General in New York was allowed to visit only after asking several times and receiving a special permit,\" Katie Shmuel, the mother of another of the youths, told Arutz-7\'s Yosef Zalmanson yesterday. \"He was allowed to talk to them only in English, and only from behind a glass partition. The Consul told me that the boys are in a bad state and that they are being held under difficult conditions.\" It has since been learned, however, that some of them were granted improved conditions two days ago.

Mrs. Shmuel said that President Moshe Katzav, New York Mayor Giuliani and others had attempted to intervene, but there have been no results so far. The youths are being held in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. When asked if the local Jewish community had gotten involved, both mothers said that they had been in contact with \"someone there\" but that they had not seen results.

A spokesperson for the Israeli Consulate in New York told Arutz-7 that in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, \"the Americans now have different procedures for dealing with the detention of anyone arrested in connection with the attacks. Every single request of ours must go through the FBI and the State Department\'s legal team\" - even though the terrorism charges have long been dropped. \"We are doing as much as we possibly can on their behalf,\" she said.