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      Rabbis to Call Day of Fasting if Young Girls are not Freed

      16 days: 7 Land of Israel-faithful girls are still being held in prison with no opportunity to speak to their parents. A fast day is to be called.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 1/11/2008, 12:59 PM

      It's already 16 days, and seven girls are still being held in prison with no opportunity to speak with their parents. Their crime: Refusing to identify themselves.

      If they are not released by Friday afternoon, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel and other leading rabbis say they will call a public fast on Monday.

      The girls were arrested over two weeks ago at Givat Ha'Or, a new would-be civilian outpost just outside Beit El in southern Samaria, north of Jerusalem.  Though they would likely have been released with relatively minor restrictions, sources close to the case say the justice system is waging war against them because they refuse to identify themselves or otherwise cooperate with Israel's judicial system. 

      No Cooperation with Anti-Jewish Government
      Pro-bono lawyers from the Honenu legal rights association who have met with them say the girls refuse to lend a hand to a legal system that works to unlawfully keep Jews out of the Land of Israel. 

      Large groups of their friends and teachers have come to the protest outside the Jerusalem Magistrates Court every few days when the 9th- and 10th-grade girls are brought to court for an extension of their custody. 

      Official Letters of Protest
      Dr. Yitzchak Kadman, Director of Israel's National Child Welfare Council, sent a sharp letter to the Jerusalem District Attorney's office, protesting the continued incarceration under abusive conditions of the seven. Kadman mentioned the fact that the girls have been deprived of food and bathroom privileges for hours at a time, and are not allowed to have school books brought in.

      The girls' parents have also published an open letter, calling for the release of their daughters "even if they don't identify themselves."

      Yet another letter of protest was sent by the head  of the Beit El Educational Department, Menachem Lev, to Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, complaining of the educationally injurious results of the conditions of the girls' incarceration.

      The Honenu organization declared its appreciation of Dr. Kadman's stance on the side of the girls: "The State of Israel seems to be convinced that Jews who work to settle throughout the Land of Israel are more likely to be criminals than others. We are happy that Dr. Kadman has woken up to his obligation to help even children of settlers."

      Professor Hillel Weiss, representing the modern forum of Rabbis calling itself the Sanhedrin, was allowed to visit the girls on Thursday in his capacity as a lawyer, and later released the following announcement: "At the end of my visit with the girls, one of them asked me to publicize, in the name of all of them, that their modesty had been hurt in jail.  The Jewish public will not forget and will not forgive how the Jewish regime has harassed girls considered minors by its own laws."

      "If the girls are not released by Friday," Weiss continued, "a public fast day will be called on Monday by the Sanhedrin's Rabbi Yisrael Ariel and other leading rabbis, to express the fault of the nation and its leaders, as well as the atonement that is essential in light of the trampling of the honor and modesty of Jewish girls." 

      Supporters call on the public to send letters of protest to Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Knesset Child Welfare Committee Chairperson Shelly Yechimovitch.