Police Raid Major Haredi Yeshiva In Middle Of The Night, Make Wave Of Arrests
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Israel Police raided the Poneviz (Ponivitch, Ponivitz) Yeshiva in Bnei Brak in the middle of the night and made a wave of arrests and detentions, several Israeli radio and other media, including Behadrei Haredim, reported. Police moved through the dorms and nearby sections of Bnei Brak, rousing sleeping students and arresting those who they were looking for or who tried to impede police.
The arrests are related to ongoing factional disputes within Israel’s second largest haredi yeshiva and to riots and other violence stemming from them.
A magistrate allegedly chastised police this morning, telling them that the arrests were unnecessary and that they could have continued their investigation without them. Nonetheless, magistrate released four of the students – but under very restrictive conditions. The others were released by police before arraignment.
One of those arrested yeshiva students told Behadrei Haredim that he was out of the country when the riots he supposedly took part in took place.
"Around three in the morning, the police knocked on my door in the center of Bnei Brak. Woke me up and told me I was under arrest. The police handcuffed me and took me into the police van without presenting an arrest warrant. At the police station, I was shocked to learn that I was a suspect and of the things I [allegedly] did, while according to all the records I was abroad at the time [those incidents took place]. Only a few hours later, [police] verified the mistake and I was released home,” the yeshiva student said, promising to file a legal complaint against police, who he claimed acted to arrest him and the others without physical evidence implicating them and while in fact having evidence that cleared them.
Police told Behadrei Haredim that it is important to emphasize that the police action taken today was designed for the benefit of all of the yeshiva’s students to protect them from the internecine violence that has plagued Poneviz for the better part of a decade. The action overnight was taken, police say, against the few criminals in Poneviz who terrorize the many innocent students there. During the operation, some of those involved were detained while others were formally arrested. All detainees and suspects received fair treatment, were given food and water, and were given the opportunity to pray, police noted.
Over the past decade, the two main factions fighting for control of the yeshiva in a vicious succession battle have repeatedly rioted and fought gang-like battles with each other. Students and even rabbis have been stabbed and beaten in these fights, and pipe bombs were deployed, allegedly by one of the factions, in 2008.