Jewish convert tortured in PA jail while Israeli government does nothing

Israeli authorities have so far done nothing for the middle-aged man who was snatched three weeks ago while visiting his son.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A Palestinian from Hebron who recently converted to Judaism was seized by Palestinian security men on Oct. 8 is being tortured in the city jail while Israeli authorities do nothing, charged one of the the man’s Jewish friends in a Ynet report last week.

The Palestinian Authority sent four men to snatch the convert and drive him to Hebron when he put himself at risk by visiting a son in PA-controlled territory the day before Yom Kippur, said the friend, Chaim Pereg.

The man, in his 50s, was converted by a private Bnei Brak religious court headed by Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, one of the leaders of Lithuanian ultra-Orthodoxy who passed away last Monday.

The Israeli rabbinate is in the process of recognizing his conversion, but until the process is complete, he is not recognized as an Israeli citizen. According to Pereg, the Civil Authority gave the man a temporary permit to live in Jerusalem since they understood his in-between status, but they have refused to act on his behalf since his arrest.

Instead, says the report, the Civil Authority is maintaining that this is an “internal Palestinian matter” since the man is still considered a Palestinian citizen and was charged with a crime – that of committing an act of violence against his brothers.

Pereg, also from Hebron, told the news site that the man has managed to call him a few times and said that his brothers were the ones who had beaten him because of his conversion. He was also being beaten in jail, and his hands and feet have been burned.

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s like my son,” Pereg said, “and I’ll shout to the world to get someone to help him. This man’s grandfather saved 26 Jews during the 1929 riots in Hebron. Now when he’s in danger, we have a historic responsibility to [help] him.”

According to lawyer Michael Teplo, who is trying to help the man, the charges against him were faked because the siblings “needed to show that they don’t support his conversion. Otherwise, they would unfortunately suffer a lot.”

Samarian Regional Council head Yossi Dagan has gotten involved as well, turning to MKs and ministers as well as senior figures in the Civil Authority to demand that they work to free the man – all as yet to no avail.

“If a Jew with French or German citizenship was arrested for 15 days in Hebron, would they say this was an internal Palestinian matter?” Dagan asked. “The state has a duty to use any means to free him.”