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      Public Outrage Grows As Teenage Girls Remain In Jail

      Public outrage continues to grow at the incarceration and treatment of three teenage girls arrested protesting the Disengagement Plan.
      By Ezra HaLevi
      First Publish: 8/4/2005, 1:19 PM / Last Update: 8/4/2005, 11:58 AM

      A protest took place Thursday morning at the Supreme Court against the continued imprisonment of the 13-year-old, 14-year-old, and 16-year-old girls who have sat in prison for month following their arrests. Protesters marched from the front of the Knesset building to the Supreme Court holding placards reading, 'Free the Girls', 'Danger to Democracy' and 'Outrage!'

      Although the norm with regard to non-violent crimes is to release the accused with restrictions such as house arrest, the girls are being held until the end of legal proceedings against them. The decision was upheld by Israel's Supreme Court, which ruled that the childrens' parents proved themselves incapable of preventing their offspring from repeatedly engaging in public disruptions in protest of the Disengagement Plan. There is currently another appeal being submitted to the Supreme Court requesting a wider panel of judges to examine the case.

      As it is now, the teenage girls, Chaya Belogorodsky, 14, Moriah Goldberg, 13, and Peninah Ashkenazi, 16, will remain in prison until their August 21 trial despite the fact that jail time is not an option as sentence for the crimes which they are being charged with - disrupting public order and insulting a police officer. Moshe Belogorodsky, Chaya's father, told Arutz-7 that what is taking place is "complete cooperation between the judicial system and the ruling clique - in order to keep those willing to protest the expulsion of Jews from their homes behind bars."

      "The goal of this protest is to take a stand against this creeping totalitarianism before it becomes the norm in our beloved country," said protest organizer Nachum Duchin. "We must stop this dangerous precedent now!"

      On Tuesday, a group of criminal law academics from all across Israel signed a petition demanding that police cease the practice of holding minors in jail, saying the security establishment must find a way to immediately free those currently being held.

      The professors and academics wrote that it is neither "appropriate nor moral" to jail minors charged with participating in illegal demonstrations or disturbing the peace, even if freeing them would enable to return and take part in demonstrations again.

      Haifa University's Prof. Emmanuel Gross, Tel Aviv University's Prof. Eliezer Lederman and the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center's Prof. Yoram Shahar were among the signers of the petition.

      The academics, most of them on the left side of the political spectrum, say they are a non-political group of individuals who all object strongly to the heavy hand being used against minors arrested for political protest in recent months.

      Four hundred people are currently in jail for various protests against the Disengagement Plan. 150 were arrested Wednesday and 250 Tuesday. There have been 1,200 arrests in last four months, according to the Honenu legal assistance organization, which expects another 1,000 jailings in the coming week.

      The Israeli Supreme Court can be faxed at 02-675-9648 (972-2-675-9648 from overseas) or emailed: pniot@supreme.court.gov.il