Ofer - Holding and trading of combat materiel, Plea Bargain
Translation: Marganit W.
Courtroom 4 -Justice Etty Adar’s court
Masked Men and the Strange Story of 700 bullets
There were 25 cases in the docket, all reflecting the reality of opposition to the occupation. 16 (two thirds) concerned throwing objects or making firebombs. All the detainees were between 18-24.
We report on 3 cases.
Hassin Ali Ahmed Gafal – ID 411012065
Hassin, a 22-year old worker from Abu Dis is charged that on 4.12.15, while masking his face, he participated in disturbances where rioters threw Molotov Cocktails, 3 explosive charges, a gas grenade and rocks at security forces.
As always, we call your attention to the terminology: disturbance, rioters, security forces. What were the forces doing there, in Palestinian territories?
He was sentenced to 9 months, and 3000-shekels fine.
We will comment later on the importance of the masked faces.
Imad Ali Shehadeh Hamed – ID 401384789
Defense: Atty. Ahmad Saffiya
Imad is 18. He was arrested on 11.12.15 in Silwad.
The indictment mentions participation in riots while using a mask. He threw rocks using a slingshot [they used to call it David’s sling, until they realized the association…] at security forces.
He was sentenced to 5 months in jail, plus the judge activated a suspended sentence Imad had from a previous trial. All in all, he will spend 12 months in prison, plus a 12-month suspended sentence and 2000-shekel fine or two months in jail.
Now for the mask and its menacing connotations. Why menacing? It is not enough for the prosecution that they threw rocks and firebombs, the fact that they covered their faces compounds their guilt.
The occupied territories are strewn with scores of huge pillboxes containing detective devices that operate day and night. One soldier at a checkpoint once told us proudly that the army has heat seeking sensors that can detect humans by the heat their bodies emit. Unit 8200 listens in on private conversations of Palestinians around the clock, and all cellular communication is under surveillance. The soldiers in the territories are equipped with sophisticated binoculars and sights, not to mention the helicopters and drones that can pinpoint and target a man sitting in his kitchen in Gaza. Over the Old City in Jerusalem hot air balloons trace every movement in the alleys. It is a one-way surveillance: Israel sees but is unseen. It observes and photographs Palestinians who are not allowed to look back. All this underlines the cruelty of the occupier’s invasion and his insistence on knowing and recording every detail of its subjects’ lives, while at the same time remaining invisible. At the checkpoints we see soldiers checking IDs and permits: they are the ones doing the looking, telling us, “You cannot take photos of me! What are you looking at?”
The scarf covering the face hides the individual, but it also designates him as the opposition – an anonymous horde. Thus it is important for the prosecution to emphasize that the suspect was masked, in other words, not acting on his own behalf but as part of a bigger protest. The mask has become a symbol of resistance to the occupation. Covering the face in itself has become a crime because it upsets the distorted balance needed for subjugation: I see you but you can’t see me.
Fozi Muhammad fuaz Ahmad Ragbi – ID 850658360
A Hebron resident, married and father of two.
Defense: Anwar Abu Omar.
Fozi came to court from his home, i.e., he is released on bail, and his story is rather strange. He was arrested a month ago, charged that in 2011 he received 700 M16 bullets from someone and he hid them in his home. Since 2011 until 2015, the man who had given him the ammo would visit on occasion, take some of the bullets and apparently sell them. Fozi did not get any money from this.
700 M16 bullets? And in the middle of what the Occupying Powers call “a wave of terrorism”? Who knows what those bullets were used for? We assumed the man would have to sit in prison for many years. But no – as usual, there was a plea bargain.
And here’s a strange part: the sentence was prison time that coincides with the time of detention: 31 days, 10 months suspended sentence for 4 years and 1500-shekel fine. All for possession of 700 bullets.
What’s behind this plea bargain? Who was the man who gave him the bullets? Why such a light sentence for a violation that normally garners heavy penalty. Maybe the court knows. Maybe the Shabak [GSS] – that completely governs Palestinians’ lives – knows. Somebody must have struck a very lucrative bargain.
We asked Sari to share with us her impressions of the first encounter with the legal system. In her report she vents the frustrations a civilian feels vis-à-vis the revolving doors and gates one has to go through to get to the courts.
As can be expected, her impressions were painful and complex.