Israelis "Traumatized" by Brief Experience in US Prisons

Source: Jerusalem Post - November 23, 2001

Justice4JP Note

: The following article describes the trauma suffered by 5 Israelis in US prisons over a 2 month period. Their brief ordeal in US prison is in no way aytpical of the US prison experience and has generated both shock and sympathy in Israel.

Justice4JP asks why no similar concern or compassion is shown for Israeli agent, Jonathan Pollard, who has endured 16 years in US prisons in some of the harshest conditions that the US penal system has to offer, including nearly 7 years in solitary confinement.

They treated us like terrorists, say five Israelis held in US Allison Kaplan Sommer

The Jerusalem Post - November 23, 2001

KIRYAT ONO - Five young Israelis recently released from two months in US jails described oppressive conditions and rough treatment yesterday, saying that they "were treated like terrorists" even after it quickly became clear they were not involved in the World Trade Center attack.

Their imprisonment was extremely traumatic and has left physical and emotional scars, Oded Elner and Omer Marmari, of Petah Tikva, who returned on Tuesday, and Paul and Sivan Kurzberg, of Pardess Hanna, and Yaron Shmuel, of Yokne'am, who returned on Wednesday, told reporters last night. They said that they suffer from nightmares following their ordeal.

The five, who worked for a New Jersey moving company, said that they were arrested in a security sweep, after neighbors reported them to the authorities when they heard them speaking Hebrew and thought it was Arabic and that they were somehow tied to the terror attack.

It was reported that they were picked up after they photographed themselves smiling against the backdrop of the burning buildings. After it rapidly became clear that they weren't connected to the attack, they continued to be held for working illegally and, in some cases, overstaying their tourist visas.

They were kept in jail until they were formally deported, and languished for weeks as they waited for their deportation orders to be issued by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, then approved by the Justice Department.

During the first month following the attack, they said, were placed in solitary confinement, before anyone interrogated them. They said that they were deliberately kept with Arab and Moslem prisoners, who beat them badly, and that they were deprived of food and basic sleeping and toilet conditions.

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