Ofer - Holding and trading of combat materiel

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Ivonne Mansbach, Hava Halevi (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.


40 pieces


Courtroom 4

Judge: Zvi Heilbronn,

We have the names of the attorney and the detainee, but they are undisclosed.


Detainee: H.


Charge: Possessing and trading in combat materiel.


The hearing today focused on one of the most prevalent procedures employed by occupation regimes: when a strong, organized body (such as a state or an army) wants to undermine the social cohesion and the solidarity of the occupied population in order to prevent protest and resistance. But during this process of disintegration, a parallel phenomenon of conflicting loyalties occurs. In our case: the army pursues its interests, but it also needs to protect its collaborators. The occupied population is torn between its loyalty to family, tradition and habitat and economic and other advantages that the occupier promises. These conflicting interests are irreconcilable, as the trial of H. demonstrates.


H. is accused of possessing and trading in combat materiel. As far as we were able to judge, there was no trading, but there was much possession of arms. The hearing today exposed how the occupation regime uses tensions and internal conflicts within the Palestinian society for its purposes.


In one of the raids the army conducts to locate weapons in the hands of East Jerusalem Palestinian, a pistol (perhaps other weapons) was found in H’s house. H is a mature, burly man. He came to court from his home. When he heard the exchange between his attorney and the judge, he asked to address the court. He said he had about “forty pieces” at home. He has permits for all of them, obtained from a brigadier general in the Civil Administration (we have his name). All forty pieces were bought legally at a gun store in Jerusalem.

Why had he received a permit? The attorney said “Because of his contribution to Israel’s security”. The permit, however, expired in 1997. H., according to his attorney, was laboring under the assumption that the permit was for life. In the past, before the store closed down, he would occasionally go there to prove that the weapons were obtained legally.


Because of his “contribution to Israel’s security”, H. and his family also obtained Israeli “blue ID cards” and they are considered Israeli citizens. One member of the family even ran for mayor in Yata, and held that position for a while. How did he manage to do that? This is not clear. We assume it had something to do with those “forty pieces” his family kept and perhaps with the backing of the Civil Administration, that uses the dispensation of Israeli citizen status whenever it benefits it. But evidently that was not enough, so H. and his family relocated to Jerusalem, where they have lived for 22 years.


With a blue ID card and away from Yata and the “forty pieces”, they felt secure. Until the last raid to locate illegal weapons that led to the indictment.


The prosecutor insisted that the possession was a violation (the prosecution summoned 8 witnesses). H. Insisted that the weapons were held legally and that he could find no agent who could renew the license.


The judge said that this was an open and shut case and tried in vain to resolve it. The attorney, who presumably could explain the conflict of interests at the core of the case, and thereby bring it to a resolution, declined to do so, repeating several times the phrase, “there are things which are better kept silent.”