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      Tzviya Sariel to be Released on Wednesday

      Finally: 18-year-old girl, imprisoned for 3.5 months for not recognizing courts' authority, is set to be freed at 2 PM -barring last-minute tricks.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 3/18/2008, 6:23 PM

      The pressure apparently worked.  Tzviya Sariel, the 18-year-old girl who has been imprisoned for 3.5 months for refusing to recognize the authority of Israel's legal system in her case, is apparently scheduled to be freed at 2 PM on Wednesday. 

      The Prosecution has summed up its case, and has said that it would not ask for more than "time served" in the event of a conviction.  Tzviya's family is already preparing for her homecoming.

      The Case
      Tzviya Sariel was arrested in early December on charges of having pushed an Arab man who came to harvest olives in her hometown of Elon Moreh, in the Shomron (Samaria).  Upon arrest, she refused to identify herself, accept legal counsel, or otherwise cooperate with the legal system.  She explained that she would have nothing to do with a non-Torah based legal system in Israel that wished to prevent Jews from exercising their rights to the Land of Israel.

      It is believed that for this reason, she was "punished" by the extended incarceration and extra abuse while in prison. For instance, court dates were pushed off by a month at a time, leaving her imprisoned for the duration, and she was even placed in solitary confinement for various periods - nine days in total - after not agreeing to be strip-searched or stand when prisoners are counted.

      At one of the most recent court sessions, the Arab complainant essentially withdrew his charges against Tzviya - yet she remained in prison nevertheless.

      Surprise Hearing on Tuesday
      Early this morning (Tuesday), she was brought for a sudden and surprise court hearing to the Kfar Saba Magistrates Court - even though the next court session had been scheduled only for April 3.  The prosecution summed up its case, and State Attorney Shir Laufer stated that in the event of a conviction, she does not plan to ask for more jail time than that which Tzviya has already served. 

      The judge announced that the verdict would be handed down on Wednesday at 2 PM.  Thus, whether or not Tzviya is convicted, she should be out of prison well in time for the Purim holiday, which begins Thursday night.

      "She was arrested on the eve of Chanukah," a cheerful Tzviya's mother told Arutz-7, "and she will be freed on the eve of Purim.  There's some symbolism to that."  Mrs. Sariel noted that though she brought her daughter some books over the past few weeks, "often they never got to her, or got to her only after many days."

      Yitzchaki: Inhumane, Illegal, Immoral Harassment
      "Apparently the public pressure in Israel and even around the world has had an effect in stopping this illegal, inhumane and immoral judicial process," said activist Datia Yitzchaki, who has been closely following the case.  "This has been three and a half months of harassment and abuse by the State Prosecution, the judge, and the Prison Service of an innocent girl."

      Record Amounts of Purim Sweets for Tzviya
      The announcement appears likely to put a halt to Yitzchaki's nationwide campaign to gather what appeared to be headed to be the largest Mishloach Manot ever put together. The plan was to collect food and sweets from all over the country and deliver them as a ceremonious Purim food-package to Tzviya in prison - in keeping with the religious obligation to share food-packages with friends and neighbors on the holiday.

      To this end, food or donations have already been collected from close to 90 towns in Israel and around the world, including the U.S., Australia, Holland, Switzerland, Brazil, England, Belgium, and France. 

      Yitzchaki, who expressed her amazed bewilderment at the fact that "in modern Israel, a young girl can be imprisoned for such a long period merely because of her beliefs," told Arutz-7 that the plan is still to deliver the Mishloach Manot to Tzviya on the day of Purim, wherever she may be.

      Yitzchaki admits that there is still a "1% chance" that the Prosecution will continue its torture campaign against Tzviya by not asking specifically for her release tomorrow, "but this appears to be unlikely, as it will be transparent to the entire world."