Ofer - Release on Bail, Stone Throwing

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Tamar Fleishman (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

More restrictions at the entrance to the court? - "It's not my decision: these are our instructions..." said the soldier as she rummaged in my pocket. She found a tissue and threw it in the trashcan.

For a long moment I felt as if I was fumbling in the dark: we no longer receive protocols of the hearings, and today even the copies of the dockets that we usually find at the entrance to the courtrooms were nowhere to be found. Thus, I had to feel my way in the dark, piecing together the details.

Trial No. 1 (no names of defendant, prosecutor, attorney or judge; no charge either).

The attorney stated that the defendant's family was unable to ransom their son as they lack the means. The families of three other detaineesinfo-icon paid for their release, only his client stayed in jail. Hence, he asks for a reduced sum.

Prosecutor: Due to the severity of the offense [unknown to me], no mitigation is warranted.

The judge states that the fine has already been reduced twice (from 7000 shekels to 4000 then to 2550). "The fine is for the benefit of the public, not the defendant." Thus, the sum remains unchanged.

Defense: But nobody can pay this sum on his behalf...

Judge: He can appeal.

I took a break and went out. In the fenced yard I met Issa Salibi from Beit Ommar, a friend of Haya Ofek. He is an elderly man who comes here often because two of his sons are in jail awaiting trial, "because they oppose the occupation." The younger of the two (21)  is charged with throwing rocks, and the other (25) is charged with "an attempt to blow up the tower at the entrance to the village."

It takes the father two hours to reach Ofer and costs him 65 shekels, "but never mind the time or the money. It's the humiliation..." Issa further told me about the daily incursions of the army into Beit Ommar. "Today they arrested 4 villagers."

Trial No. 2

Defendant: Raid Mahmud Hamzi Badawi Hanini, ID 901139972, from Hebron, 35 years old.

Charge: membership and activity in an unlawful association up to the day of arrest.

Defense: Atty. Shaaban

Judge: Captain Oren Boaz

Two witnesses for the prosecution incriminated the defendant.

The prosecutor claims that the organization in question is affiliated with Hamas.

Defense: Neither witness claims that the defendant took part in Hamas activities only that he taught the Koran. The second witness testified that the defendant works at the Hebron Culture ministry, at the Sufi organization.

The defense further states: The defendant had taught children the Koran for many years. About 3-4 years ago Israel asked the PA to oversee the associations, so now the PA inspects them. He teaches small children the Koran. This is not against the law... He is 35 years old, has no criminal record. Had he wanted to make trouble, he would have done it in the First Intifada...

-The statements were taken in February 2010, why was he arrested only in June? Why did the security forces take their time?

-I see that the defendant is not a security risk; there is discrimination between him and other defendants who were released. I move to release him on bail."

Prosecutor: There is new information that the organization is a branch of Hamas...

Defense: You cannot adduce new allegations. My colleague is inventing things. His claim has no leg to stand on...

Judge's Decision:

"I am convinced that his activity was focused on religion and there is no proof he did anything that might endanger security in the region, even though there is basis for unlawful activity. I order him released with the following restrictions:

1. Deposition of 10.000 shekels in cash.

2. Third party guarantee of 5000 shekels.

3. He has to report to the nearest police station every Sunday before 11 AM.

The prosecution requests a 72-hour delay to consider an appeal.

Judge's Decision: Raid's release is delayed until Sunday at 11.45 AM.

Trial No. 3

Defendant: Ahmed Hamdan, resident of Bethlehem.

Charged with conspiracy to commit a crime.

Defense: Atty. Lubani

Judge: Captain Oren Boaz

The judge rejects the defense's request for an alternative to detention with the following explanation: "I examined the evidence which is based on the defendant's admission and on the statement by an incriminating witness, and I find that they warrant detention."

Hearing is set for the first Tuesday when arraignments are presented to Justice Fleishman.

On the way out of this big cattle pen I was stopped by some young men who asked,

-Who are you?

-What are you writing all the time?

-What do you do with the material?

-Who is it sent to?

-Can anyone help?

One of them offered to work with me. I explained that this is not a paying job, he wondered: So you're not paid by the government?