Two Jewish anti-Disengagement activists were sentenced to years in prison Sunday for planning a road blocking in 2005.
Brothers Modechai and Elitzur Harel were sentenced to 40 and 30 months in prison, respectively, by Tel Aviv’s Magistrates Court judge George Kara, an Israeli-Arab. The brothers were arrested while preparing to block Tel Aviv’s Ayalon Expressway with their own burning vehicle. Their plan was a display of civil disobedience protesting what they saw as an illegal and immoral law –the 2005 Disengagement Law which paved the way for the expulsion of thousands of Jews from their homes in Israeli communities.
They were found guilty of the crime of “endangering human life on a transportation route.” Boaz Yaakobi, a friend of the two brothers who was present at the sentencing, said that the judge compared their planned protest to placing an explosives charge in the middle of the freeway. "The judge and the prosecution turned them from planners of a roadblock protest into planners of a mass-casualty bombing," he said.
The Harels’ severe treatment by the Israeli justice system did not begin Sunday. They were imprisoned for half a year without trial until finally being released. Then, they were summarily placed back in prison two months ago until the end of proceedings against them, in an unprecedented decision made by Judge Kara, with the support of Supreme Court Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch.
The Honenu legal aid organization says that more than a dozen legal experts, professors and jurists who reviewed the case were all shocked at its “travesty of justice, which lacks comparison or proportion compared to the treatment of even murderers and rapists.”
“There is a general feeling that this case constitutes a settling of accounts with those who opposed the expulsion from Gush Katif and northern Samaria,” Honenu said in a brief regarding the case. “In addition, in similar cases of students blocking roads [as part of last year’s students’ protests regarding tuition increases –ed.], the punishments were much lighter, with many not even resulting in indictments.”
Honenu says it is organizing legal action against the continued political discrimination displayed by the justice system.
Mordechai Harel is a father of six who teaches Talmud at the Torah academy set up in the hilltop community of Havat Gilad, in Samaria. He was one of the founders of the Ramat Gan Hesder Yeshiva twelve years ago. One of his students told Arutz Sheva that he and fellow students are flabbergasted by the prospect of their teacher being sentenced to years of active jail time.