1 of the women involved in the lemon theft
1 of the women involved in the lemon theft picture used with permission of photographer

Following a complaint from the Honenu legal organization, an Arab resident of the Jordan Valley was arrested on suspicion of stealing lemons from a family farm in the town of Mehola.

The thief is known to police due to numerous complaints and has previously been documented stealing agricultural goods across the Jordan Valley. Although the thief was caught 'red handed' at the time of the theft, the police did not arrest him at the time.

The Honenu organization contacted the Judea and Samaria District Complaints Officer demanding that the serial thief be prosecuted, and two months after the incident he was arrested by the police.

In an urgent letter sent by Adv. Haim Bleicher from the Honenu organization to the Investigations Department and the Public Inquiries Officer, he said that "about two months ago, thieves entered my client's orchard, picked and stole about half a ton of lemons. An agricultural patrolman staying in the area recognized the burglary and called on my client to reach his plantation. One of the thieves was captured at the scene, while a number of women who participated in the theft fled before his arrival, and according to the interrogation in the field, they are the wives of the thief who was caught."

The policemen who arrived at the scene released the thief to the surprise of the farmer and the patrolman. "The police collected a complaint from my client, the plantation owner, as well as testimony from the patrolman who caught the thief, but surprisingly the police chose to release the thief on the ground. The police told my client that they gave the suspect a summons for questioning."

The suspect did not appear at all as necessary for an investigation by the police, and an inspection in front of the Benjamin police station revealed that no case had been opened for the theft. "The police officers who filed a complaint and the relevant bodies did not forward the complaint to investigations at all," Attorney Bleicher clarified.

In his letter, Adv. Bleicher criticized the refusal to investigate agricultural terrorism: "Agricultural thefts are a coup d'etat and a real strategic threat to the realization of the Zionist vision. My client is suffering from repeated harassment of burglaries and damage to his farm. Only recently was a thief caught breaking into his tool shed along with other escaped suspects."

At the end of his appeal, Bleicher sought an increase of police and law enforcement activity in the region: "There is an urgent need for increased and determined enforcement against this serious phenomenon. I would like to complain about the police officers who concealed the complaint and in fact dismissed the theft investigation."

"I will also seek the rectification of this omission, the arrest of the suspect and that the suspect and his accomplices receive the maximum sentence," Bleicher concluded.

The owner of the farm described the lawlessness in the area "Already a year ago, grapes were stolen from me, on s Saturday afternoon We caught the thief, the army and police arrived, everyone. At the end the policemen told the thief 'Come to the police on Monday'. I was shocked, but that's how they work."

"Then, too, the police did not arrest anyone. The thief, whom I know - passed by me ten years ago, arrived on Saturday night. The guard grabbed him, but the policeman came, recorded what happened, and went home. Lately there have been a lot of thefts here. I recently had two warehouses broken into, beyond the lemon theft. I didn't get back what was stolen in all the thefts, nor the equipment," he said.

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