Ofer - Administrative Detention, Incitement

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Vivi Sury, Nitza Aminov (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

Freedom of Speech – for Jews only

Astrophysics professor Imad Bargouti has been in detention since 24.4.16, at first under a 3-month administrative detention that was later shortened to one month. On 26.5.16 the Court of Appeals ordered his release and three days later- on 29.5.16 - an indictment was issued.

This is not the first arrest of the internationally known professor. In Dec. 2014 he was arrested on the way to an Arab Science and Space conference in the Emirates. He was kept under administrative detention for forty days. Many petitions by the international science communities were signed calling for his release.

This time, too, more than 30 academics from all over the world signed a petition for his release.


Justice Lieut. Col. Shalom Dahan presided over a remand extension hearing.

Attorney Jawad Boulos presented preliminary arguments of “abuse of process”. He claimed that the streets of Palestine are empty of demonstrators and instead Facebook is full of posts. However, what is permitted for Jews to post on social media – including racist comments on public figures -  is considered “incitement” and proscribed to Palestinians. Atty. Boulos opined that every wall that collapses here, at the military court, is bound to collapse in Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Atty. Boulos pointed out that Prof. Bargouti has declared that he is opposed to the occupation and calls for it to end.

The prosecutor defined Prof. Bargouti as a public figure – which prompted Atty. Boulos to respond that Bargouti is an academician. The prosecutor decided that a person who has 4962 friends on Facebook and 1684 followers is by definition a public figure. Besides, in his Facebook photo is wearing a Hamas scarf.

The judge allowed Atty. Bolos to present (in his usual impressive manner) his preliminary arguments but accepted the prosecution’s request for remand extension.

Next hearing is set for 13.6.16.


We came especially to observe the hearing of Alaa Asaef, the Beir-Zeit student who has been in detention for over a month (three weeks of it in solitary confinement at the Russian Compound).

As soon as Alaa’s parents entered the yard, they informed us that the attorney had told them that their daughter would be released on bail today. In the recess, the father brought the bail money and we waited impatiently for the hearing. Indeed, in the afternoon the parents were informed that their daughter would be released today for a 3000-shekel bail.

Her trial is set for 20.7.16.

There was no reason to return Alaa to Sharon Prison before releasing her. Eventually she was released from the court. Her parents waited until 8 PM to take her home.


Accounts from the yard:

Women circled Alaa Asaef’s mother, who was crying and laughing and wishing the other women good luck, hugging and kissing them. They showed solidarity and shared their hope and despair, their worries and longing for their detained relatives. They were all waiting for the hearings where they would have a chance for a brief encounter with their loved ones, exchange a few words and transmit news.

Professor Bargouti’s sister, too, was there, torn between hope and despair: she understood from the summation that her brother’s remand extension was lighter than it actually was. The Arabic translation in court was hard to follow, but she wished to draw some hope from Atty. Boulos’ long and impressive address.

She was not aware of the fact that decisions are often made earlier.