Four young Jewish men who were arrested on suspicion of vandalizing Christian graves have been released from custody after police found no evidence tying them to the crime.
The four, yeshiva students ages 17-26, were arrested on Sunday after an Arab man testified that they were involved in breaking tombstones and writing graffiti at a Greek Christian cemetery in the Kever David (David’s Tomb) compound.
The four argued that they had been in the area only because they were walking to the mikvah (ritual bath), and that they had no connection to the vandalism.
“The only one who testified against us was the Arab man, a man we know who had a clear interest in doing us harm,” one of the suspects said Thursday morning, following his release.
Two of those released Thursday are minors, and two are from Judea and Samaria (Shomron) and were previously given administrative distancing orders prohibiting them from entering their hometowns.
They were represented by the Honenu legal rights group. Honenu welcomed the youths’ release from custody, and criticized police.
“Police yet again put the cart before the horse, and that’s why the detainees were arrested despite being innocent,” the group said in a statement.
“Instead of investigating and doing fieldwork first, as it is supposed to do, the police continue with their biased policy of ‘assuming’ very quickly that whoever belongs to a group with a certain religious appearance is a potential nationalist criminal. We hope police will be quick to learn from this event,” Honenu added.