Teenager arrested for waving Israeli flag sues police

17-year-old yeshiva student was allegedly handcuffed by his hands and feet for courtroom appearance, like a terrorist or suspect in violent crime, after being arrested for waving an Israeli flag in area frequented by Arabs.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

A young Zionist activist and social media influencer is suing the Israeli police, following what he says was maltreatment after being arrested for waving an Israeli flag in an Arab area in the nation’s capital.

Yedidia Epstein, a 17-year-old yeshiva student, organized a pro-Israel protest at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate in July 2023, on the heels of a car-ramming attack in Tel Aviv that left nine people injured.

Damascus Gate is in the Old City and a frequent gathering point for Arabs in Jerusalem, so police deemed the presence of right-wing activists in the area as being inherently provocative.

Within an hour of gathering at Damascus Gate with several dozen other people for a peaceful rally in which Israeli flags were raised, the gathering was broken up by police and Epstein was arrested, according to his attorney.

Elad Weisel, a member of the right-wing legal aid organization Honenu and the lawyer representing Epstein in his case, wrote in the court filing that his client was unnecessarily left handcuffed for hours.

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He was also forced to sleep on the floor of the police station overnight, until a court hearing the next morning, Weisel claimed.

Both keeping a suspect restrained in handcuffs for hours and failing to provide them a mattress on which to sleep are violations of Israeli law regarding arrestees.

Weisel said that despite being a minor and accused of a minor crime – disrupting public order by waving the flag- Epstein was taken to court with both his hands and feet shackled, a procedure which is typically used only when the suspect poses a major threat to security or is suspected of a serious crime, such as murder.

“This is a serious and unnecessary violation of the rights of a minor. Outrageous conduct that is presumed to be a deliberate abuse of the Israel Police against a minor,” Weisel said in a press statement shortly after the filing.

“[Epstein] is an idealist and a social activist, who set himself the goal of working to restore the feeling of security at the Damascus Gate and not to accept the state of affairs in which the Israeli flag cannot be raised in such a central place standing in the heart of the capital of Israel.”

Epstein is seeking 42,000 shekels [$11,000] in compensation for the incident.