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Parents Stand Behind Kids Jailed for Blocking Traffic

Several parents of children jailed for blocking traffic in anti-evacuation protests have rejected criticism by a welfare official that they are encouraging the youth to remain in jail.
First Publish: 6/12/2005, 12:02 AM / Last Update: 6/10/2005, 2:37 PM

Dr. Yitzhak Kadmon, who heads the National Children’s Welfare Council, harshly criticized parents for encouraging their children to remain behind bars. He said parents should not "use" their children for an ideological struggle.
 
However, most, if not all, of the children blocked the roads on their initiative. "I did not send my son to block roads but I respect his wishes," said Susan Matos, a resident of Beit Yatir in the southern Hevron Hills. Her son Meir was jailed for four days before he accepted a lawyer's advice to identify himself, a condition for being released. He later said he was sorry he did not remain in jail. "I don't think blocking roads is the solution but I understand their frustration," said Mrs. Matos.
 
She explained that the protesters' objective was not to be arrested and that blocking roads simply was the way to test the capability of the police and prison system. The children succeeded in proving that officials are not equipped for the ensuing public mayhem if the disengagement begins.

The first day was total confusion," Mrs. Matos said. "They were not allowed to go to the bathroom simply because there was not enough manpower." The police had arrested more than 100 students. She added that the jailed teenagers later told the prison officials, "If you behave nicely towards us, we also will behave nicely."
 
Conditions were reasonable, but several teenagers still remaining imprison have not been allowed to telephone and to pray together, according to Honenu, an organization which gives legal help to defend the teenagers.
 
A parent from Itamar in Samaria said he could not visit his 14-year-old daughter because she did not identify herself but also was not allowed to phone him. She since has been released. He also said he did not send encourage her to block traffic and go to jail.
 
About a dozen teenagers remain in jail. A prison official told Israel Radio earlier this week that it was painful for him to see the children in jail. "They don't belong here," he stated, but added that the police and courts decided to incarcerate them and he had no choice but to keep them behind bars.
 
A spokesman for the Child Services Department told Israel Radio that neither parents nor the government should exploit the children in the struggle over the plan to force Jews out of their homes. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz prevented students from taking matriculation (bagrut) examinations this week because he said they should not enjoy privileges for breaking the law. He has said he wants to deal as harshly as possible with demonstrators who block traffic.
 
However, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Likud) said the matter is being studied again after several Knesset members complained that convicted terrorists are allowed to take academic examinations while in prison.