Ofer - Fines, Minors

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Tamar Goldschmidt, Vivi Sury, Aya Kaniuk, Nitza Aminov (reporting)

Example of a plea bargain: “The weighty past of the accused, his admission of guilt and the need to save the court’s time: there is serious lack of evidence regarding the charges and the process, plus the fact that he has been in custody for six months.”


I have noted before that every week we encounter people from Beit Ummar, the village where the army carries daily and nightly raids, and where so many of the inhabitants are currently in jail.


Judge: Lieut.-Col. Sebastian Osovsky

Defendants: Tareq Abu-Maria, Jamal Abu- Maria

Defense: Atty. Fadi Qawasme


Tareq and Jamal have been detained in prison for six months. The indictment cites that “during the first third of 2017 on two separate incidents of “disturbances of the peace” (i.e. demonstrations in the Territories) he threw rocks at a watchtower 40 meters away.”


Both defendants have prior convictions with suspended sentences, but this time there was some “difficulty in identification.” Then came the quotation above.


The sentence handed down was extension of the suspended sentence from the earlier case: 3 additional years, 6000- shekel fine or 6 -month jail time.


The parents told us that they know that their village constantly finances the occupation with the many fines the defendants pay, but they don’t want their sons to remain in jail for 6 months.


Outside, in the yard we had many conversations, mostly with parents of underage detaineesinfo-icon. We are not allowed to report those hearings, but we often talk to the families. It is hard to face the mothers’ tears, the father’s anger, and the despair and helplessness they all feel vis-à-vis the system. The parents worry about their children’s mental health, the lost school years, the harsh sentences, the steep fines, and they fear that after prison their children would not be able to resume normal life.


Since Trump’s declaration about Jerusalem, a large percentage of the arrests are of minors – some are arrested during demonstrations, others are taken from home at night, some are photographed throwing rocks, and others are incriminated by friends under interrogation.

Thus we met a young mother, whose 14-year old son is in jail. She wept inconsolably. We also spoke to the uncle of Muhammad Al-Tamimi, the boy who was shot in the head at a protest in Nabi-Salah. He has since undergone surgery and is still in induced coma.

Several of the detainees are second generation detainees: we meet fathers and brothers who were in prison when they were the same age as the present detainees.