Honenu: We'll sue cops over phony arrest

Jerusalem court orders release of seven youths accused of 'pushing an Arab'; lawyers vow to sue police involved.

Shlomo Pitrikovsky ,

Jaffa Street, Jerusalem
Jaffa Street, Jerusalem
Flash 90

A Jerusalem court ordered that seven Jerusalem youths arrested on Wednesday evening for “pushing an Arab” be set free.

The Arab claimed he had been pushed for "racial' reasons, while attorneys for the youths, working on behalf of the Honenu legal rights organization, successfully convinced the court the accusation was unfounded.

The incident began at about 9 p.m. on Wednesday night when the youths were walking down Jaffa Street. An Arab construction worker cleaning the streets then bumped into one of the youths with his broom.

According to the worker, who is an employee of the Jerusalem municipality, the youths pushed him and made him fall, right onto the tracks of the light rail that runs down the street. Because of his physical condition, the Arab said he had a hard time getting up and was afraid he would be hit by an oncoming train.

The Arab filed a complaint with police, who arrived on the scene in a matter of minutes, and quickly tracked down the youths, arresting them.

For their part, the youths claimed they simply told the worker to be more careful, and that in response he began ranting at them, calling them racist names and threatening them. Police took the seven – two of them minors – into custody, where they remained overnight.

The court ordered the youths released early on Thursday morning, saying there was no reason for a case like this to get to court. Police then asked the court to ban the youths from central Jerusalem for 60 days, but this, too, was denied.

I looked at this case in depth and decided that there was no reasonable suspicion of any wrongdoing by the suspects,” the judge said. “The police reports do not mention any specific charges either.”

In a statement, Honenu said the case “speaks for itself. The court has put into words that the suspects were arrested for absolutely no reason.”

The organization said it is considering suing police for false arrest, and for keeping the suspects in custody – especially the minors – overnight instead of requesting that they remain away from the center of town, which police did anyway after the request for an extension of the suspects' remand was rejected.

We see the fact that police rushed to blow up out of proportion a simple argument into a racist incident as very serious, just because the complainant was an Arab,” said Honenu. “It's not clear why police would choose to believe an Arab over the Jewish youths, considering that there was no evidence against them – not to mention the speed and severity with which police handled the case.”