Ofer - Interrogation of Witness, Separation Barrier

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Hava Halevi, Norah Orlow

Translation: Marganit W.

Defendant: Salah Muhammad Taiya Hawaja - ID 907891097.

He is not in detention and came to court from his home [in court parlance this is called "released-present"]

Defense: Attys. Gaby Lasky and Nery Ramati

Judge: Amir Dahan

Prosecutor: Nir Keidar

Mickey's "Laundromat"

Mickey is the witness the prosecution has summoned to testify about the events at the demonstration after which Salah Hawaja was arrested. He tells the court about his role and function as Operations Officer in "the sector," or as the prosecutor puts it, about "how he deals" with the demonstrations at Bil'in and Nal'in (which the army defines as "disturbance of the peace"). The officer testifies that in most cases he witnessed both verbal and physical exchanges. You can imagine the verbal exchanges: the bulldozers are warming their engines to start the construction of the fence; an Arabic speaking soldier shows the residents a military order to close the area and asks them "respectfully" to vacate the place.

The physical "dialogue": when the request did not yield results, the military forces had to repel the residents back to the village with gas and stun grenades, and in some cases with various kinds of rubber bullets, in order to allow the construction work to proceed. The residents threw rocks, climbed on the bulldozer and refused to be evacuated. The soldiers used all the anti-riot gear in their arsenal. A few soldiers were slightly injured by the rocks. What about the villagers? We saw the scene on the news and read many reports in the papers. In his testimony in court, Mickey does not remember any of this.

The defendant Salah Hawaja is a medic. According to the defense he was present on the scene to offer medical help.

The trial focuses on two dates: 9.7.09 and 14.7.09. Mickey the Operations Officer was present on both occasions and gave a statement at Benjamin police station. In his statement of 9.7 he stated that a man named Ahmed Nafa climbed on the bulldozer, injured the operator and broke the windowpanes of the vehicle. A week later, at the same place, he testified that the man climbing on the bulldozer was Salah Hawaja. What can explain this discrepancy?

Mickey does not remember.

The attorney insists on clarifications. Why was Hawaja arrested? In his police statement Mickey did not claim that Salah threw rocks, now in court he says Salah did throw rocks, but he doesn't remember details. He is not good with dates, he says.

Now the plot thickens: Salah is not feeling well and arrives with Mickey to the police station in an ambulance. Why is he unwell? Because he realizes that the IDF wants to arrest him. This is why he was transported in a military ambulance, Mickey says, so he can get medical attention while in custody.

In fact, the officer's answers to the attorney reveal that Salah became suddenly ill because of the stun and gas grenades and the various rubber bullets mentioned above. How and how badly he was affected by this arsenal is not made clear in court. But it was necessary to put him in an ambulance and he "did not cooperate". The man who got sick in the afternoon arrived at the police station only after midnight.

-Why is that? The attorney asks.

-Because he was treated by an army doctor at an army base.

-Did you or your soldiers injure the defendant at the scene, at the base or on the way to the police?

-On that occasion?


Mickey does not remember if any of his soldiers beat the defendant, but he explains that force was used only to put the defendant in and out of the ambulance, because he was not cooperating... Later we hear that there was some kicking and shoving, that the stretcher fell down and other instances of violent and imperious behavior, but all, says Mickey, because the defendant was not cooperating. And he was treated by a doctor in an air-conditioned room! (he mentioned this fact twice).

Mickey also doubted the fact that Salah is a medic. He may be an impostor . Mickey learned this from some commanders who claimed that Salah may not be a medic at all.

Salah himself lodged a complaint with the Military Police Investigation Division against Mickey and his commander Lieut.-Col. Omry Burberg, the one who notoriously gave the order to shoot rubber bullets at a bound and blindfolded demonstrator. The commander was present during the incident the court is dealing with today, and so was his commanding spirit, which was perhaps the reason why the medic Salah Hawaja was brought, beaten and injured, to the Benjamin police station in the first place.

Continuation of The Trial of Adeeb Abu-Rahma, resident of Bil'in - Case No. 3336/09

Judge: Major Arye Dorni

Prosecutor: Adi Noy

Defense: Attys. Gaby Lasky, Nery Ramati

Adeeb Abu- Rahma is a taxi driver, married and father of nine. He has been detained for over four months (see Ofer reports on MachsomWatch website for 23.8.09, 15.9.09 and 17.9.09).
The defense is seeking to change the charge of incitement to rock throwing.

The witness, Arnon Samuel Spiegel, a soldier who served in the Bil'in area, testified about the circumstances of Abu-Rahma's arrest. The defense is trying to prove that the Bil'in arrests are a ploy to break the resistance of the residents who protest the illegal construction of the Separation Fence.

Here is a segment of the defense cross-examination re: a video taken by the army during the demonstrations and re: Spiegel's statement to the police after arresting Adeeb Abu Rahma:


Q: How did the observer know she needed to give you a disk showing the defendant?

A: I am not the observer.

Q: How did she know his name?

A: Ask her.

Q: How did you know his name when you reported to the police?

A: He identified himself when he was told of his arrest.

Q: And you remembered his Id number by heart?

A: No.

Q: How could you give it to the police?

A: Based on the documents I'd been given.

Q: So his ID card was not in front of you?

A: It was on me.

Q: What did you do with the ID card?

A: I don't remember.

Q: I am telling you that the defendant did not have his ID with him on that day. What do you say to that?

A: I have no answer.

Later in that session Imad Bornat, a photographer and a resident of Bil'in who recorded the incident and who routinely shows Bil'in films in Israel and around the world, testified in court. But at this stage we had to leave.