Price Tag Hysteria? Youths Arrested For Possessing Hammer, Nails
Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, who represents two youth arrested Friday morning near the city of Elad, located in the coastal region not far from the 1949 Armistice lines, criticized the police for making "worthless arrests."
The youths, one aged 15 and the other 16, were arrested waiting at a hitchhiking stop while in possession of "means to conduct nationalist crimes," according to the police announcement.
Ben-Gvir, who represents the two for the Honenu legal aid organization along with Attorney Adi Kedar, argued that the youth had in their possession work tools and not means for "price tag" vandalism.
"A hammer and nail are not 'price tag' tools, they are work tools that are acceptable in Israel," stated Ben-Gvir.
A Jerusalem Magistrates Court on Friday rejected the police request to extend the youths' detention by five days, but did extend it for a day until Saturday night after Shabbat.
"You don't arrest people based on their possessions, and certainly don't cast suspicion in terms fitting for some kind of underground organization," declared Ben-Gvir.
The attorney added that "the Judea and Samaria police branch still hasn't heard that in Israel nails are used for work; this story illustrates and explains why the police fail again and again."
Police reportedly found some markers and nails in the bag of one of the youths, and nothing suspicious at all in the bag of the second.
"At this rate, the day is not far when children who are found to have pencil cases with writing implements in their cases will be suspected of being on their way of committing a serious crime," remarked Ben-Gvir. "I'm on my way to the regional court to submit a petition over the extension of this mistaken arrest."
Failing with "price tag"
Many argue that the Israeli media and police have been fixating on "price tag" vandalism recently, pointing to a string of recent arrests.
Last week, Ben-Gvir represented a woman who was arrested with her husband because their car was the same model as one allegedly used in a "price tag" vandalism crime. The two reported abuse in detention, as officers told them "you will never see your kids again," and further claimed they were deprived of legal representation initially.
The week before, Ben-Gvir represented three minor girls, after police arrested them and requested distancing orders on them from Jerusalem's Old City over suspicions they had written "price tag" on graves at a Muslim cemetery using rocks and sand. Judge Dorit Feinstein expressed her shock that the police "wasted public funds," rejecting the request.
"This is the result when the Israeli police arrest girls playing with sand," remarked Ben-Gvir. "Instead of catching all the criminals who defile graves on the Mount of Olives on a daily basis, the police focus their energies on these girls, and the result is that the police fail time after time."
Similarly a 13-year-old minor girl was detained in a Jerusalem police station in early March for the "crime" of carrying paint she planned to use for her Purim costume.
Meanwhile an Arutz Sheva report in January revealed that in at least some of the cases, anti-Arab "price tags" were being systematically staged by Arab activists.
There have also been numerous incidents of Arab "price tagging", including on the graves of Tannaic scholars in the north and swastikas scrawled on Israeli flags in the heart of Jerusalem this week in time for Independence Day. Such incidents receive notably less, if any, media attention.