The ruthlessness of the Israeli criminal justice system knows no limits. On June 8, 2016, the Tel Aviv police arrested a woman who allegedly stole a can of soda and 3 Shekels (75 cents) from a shawarma shop in Hare Tzion Street in South Tel Aviv. The woman, 30, was brought before Judge Ronit Poznanski who ordered her to be arrested for 24 hours so that the police can continue the investigation without sabotage.
In any other country, such petty crimes result in a desk appearance ticket, but in Israel even a $1 theft is considered grand larceny, and such “criminals” are brought immediately before a Judge for detention. Usually the claim is that the suspect may obstruct the investigation or is dangerous, and that the policemen cannot conduct an investigation while the suspect is at liberty. Usually in Israel such detention hearings are based on a “secret file” which the police compiles and presents to the Judge ex parte. The lawyer for the suspect knows nothing about the file, and is allowed to ask only a handful of questions to the police prosecutor, who usually responds that “the answer” is in the secret file. The suspect is not allowed to present exculpating evidence, and usually the judge rubber stamps the application of the police.
Most judges in Israel who sit in criminal cases, are graduates of the Israeli prosecution, so that the prosecutors who appear before them are their friends from their previous job at the prosecution. They share the same zealousness of the prosecution to collect as many convictions as possible, so as not to appear soft on criminals.
This is exactly what happened to the poor woman who allegedly took the soda can from the shawarma stand. Her Judge, Ronit Poznanski spent 14 years at the Prosecution of Tel Aviv’s Central District, and was appointed a judge only two years ago in June 2014. Judge Poznanski justified the 24 hour detention by arguing that based on the secret file, the woman appears to have committed the crimes attributed to her, and that the testimony of the shawarma stand owner as well as the internal memos of the policemen implicate her in the crime, and merit at least a 24 hour detention.
The woman said she was present at the shawarma stand with a friend, “but the door was open. We did not touch anything and we left. After a few minutes we came back and the place was a mess so we called the police”. Her defense lawyer, attorney Rada Anaboussi, argued to Judge Poznanski that “the police already took a statement from the suspect, and from the shawarma shop owners, plus the entire event was recorded by security cameras. In such a case, there is nothing left for the police to investigate, and there is no reason to keep a suspect behind bars for 24 hours, because there is nothing that she can obstruct”.
Although it is not clear what the prosecutor Moshe Poistaro wrote in his secret file, it can be assumed that he argued that if the suspect is released, she may alert her friend who was not caught, and coordinate versions with her. Judge Poznanski reiterated that the reasons for the 24 hour detention are clearly articulated in the secret file and sent the woman to jail.
Do the Israeli police have nothing better to do than throw a woman in jail for a can of soda and 3 shekels? Does Judge Poznanski have nothing better to do that read secret police files about such a petty crime? Imagine how many resources have been spent by the police, the judges, and all other personnel involves in the logistics of this case?
It is no wonder that critics of the Israeli Judiciary claim that the Israeli Judges are merciless robots whose only goal in life is to frame as many people and possible, and put anybody they can put their hands on, behind bars? Shame on the judiciary for such a waste of tax payers money.