Israeli District Court last week ruled that Jews commit a crime when they enter without prior arrangement with security forces an area where their lives would be in danger due to Arab violence. The area in question, Joshua’s Tomb in Samaria, is in Area B where there are no restrictions on Jewish travel. On its face the ruling is tantamount to a NY City judge punishing a victim of violence for entering a dangerous neighborhood without first receiving police permission.
Judge Zahava Bustan of the district Court in Lod last Thursday rejected an appeal submitted by legal aid society Homenu attorney Hai Haber over the detention and removal of 13 Jews who wanted to pray at Joshua’s Tomb near the city of Ariel and were attacked by Arabs from the village of Kifl Haras, where the Jewish shrine is located.
Attorney Haber argued that the group, which had been punished by the court — they were ordered to stay out of Judea and Samaria for 60 days — did not commit any crime, since entry into the Arab village is legal to Jews. Kifil Haras is located in Area B, which Israeli citizens may enter at will, just as they are permitted to drive on sections of Route 60 which cuts through the Area B Arab town of Hawara, as well as on the road from Jerusalem to the Jewish community of Nokdim.
Haber added that by punishing the victims of terrorism rather than going after the terrorists who attacked them, police and now the court are encouraging terrorism. He also argued the 60-day restraining order was needlessly harsh, since there is no ongoing police investigation which the restrained individuals could potentially be interrupting. Rather it was purely punishment for punishment’s sake on the part of the court.
Judge Bustan ruled on the appeal that even in cases where it is legal for Jews to enter, when there is danger of Arab violence the Jewish visitors must first request the consent and support of the security forces, because they are, inevitably, going to be called on to rescue them.
Honenu issued a statement saying, “All of Judea and Samaria, and, indeed, all of Eretz Israel is considered dangerous territory. The decision constitutes a prize and an encouragement to terrorism, since the court decided that a village where violence is used against Jews would become verboten to Jews without rearrangement with the Army. In a sovereign country of laws, it is the role of security forces to facilitate the safe access of civilians to every area where they are permitted to be. It is inconceivable that an area where entry is permitted, especially a holy site where Jews have been visiting for years, would be closed on account of a failure to enforce the law, and law-abiding worshippers would become criminals due to the failures of police and the Army.”
“Today it’s Breslov Hasidim at Joshua’s Tomb, tomorrow it would be hikers who are attacked on a trip, and next it would be orphans who attend their parents’ graves on Mt. Olives, which is well-known as a dangerous area.”