'Price Tag' Suspects Released to House Arrest
The Lod District Court on Tuesday ordered the release of Yehuda Landsberg and Yehuda Savir of Havat Gilad in Samaria to house arrest. Honenu, the legal aid organization which has been representing the men, reported the court decision.
Landsberg was taken into custody by the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, in late January, ahead of Savir and another Havat Gilad man Binyamin Richter. All three were taken into custody on suspicion of "price tag" vandalism. All of them were denied access to an attorney for several days; in Landsberg's case ten days.
A father of three handicapped children, Landsberg will be released to his parents' home outside of Judea and Samaria. Savir will also be transferred to house arrest following military court proceedings over charges of desertion. Richter was kept in prison pending the results of report on his charges.
The trial took place following a request by the State Attorney to hold the three in prison until the end of proceedings. A State Attorney representative announced a petition would be filed, in response to which the court ordered Landsberg's release to be postponed until the petition.
While held by the Shin Bet all three were subjected to harsh conditions. Landsberg started a hunger strike after reportedly undergoing harassment, which included the playing of recordings of his children crying.
The three were indicted on charges of arson committed at the nearby Arab town of Far'ata, in what was defined as a "price tag" attack. Specifically they were accused of lighting two cars on fire during excursions to the town in the middle of the night last November.
Skepticism was aroused by the charges, given that using conventional roads it takes some 3 hours and 37 minutes on foot to reach the villages the three allegedly went to and returned from in two consecutive nights. Further complicating the charges is recent evidence which surfaced in January, proving how local Arabs often stage "price tag" attacks to frame Jewish residents.
The zealousness of the Israeli government in its suspicions of "price tag" reached new extremes last Monday, when a 13-year-old girl was separated from her friends and detained at a police station in Jerusalem for the "crime" of carrying spray paint for her Purim costume.
In stark contrast to the zealotry, Arab "price tag" has gone largely unanswered. In February, the grave of Elazar Hacohen, the son of Moses's brother Aaron from the Torah, had Arabic graffiti praising terrorism scrawled all over it.
Yossi Dagan, Deputy Head of the Samaria (Shomron) Regional Council slammed the "hypocrisy" of the media and President Shimon Peres for ignoring the incident.