Ofer - Stone Throwing, Minors

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Norah Orlow, Tamar Fleischman

Translation: Marganit W.

Courtroom 2

Norah's report:

Judge: Lieut. Ronen Atzmon

The docket in this courtroom included 9 cases. The charges were:

Throwing objects, leaving the area without a permit, holding and trading in combat materiel, 3 cases of membership, activity and holding a position [in an
unlawful organization], disturbance of the public peace, one case involving shooting and one a criminal case.

I came to observe a case involving "disturbing the public peace." Before that I attended a hearing of a case of "leaving the area without a permit."

The woman who entered Israel illegally was Nancy Nasser Yihya Alshweki
ID 854419793 - Case No. 1390/10, resident of Azariya. 

She was represented by Atty. Shimon Sharvit.
Nancy had been released on bail and came from her home. She wore civilian clothes.
A young woman whose mother is from Jerusalem [she was present in court] and her father, with whom she lives, is a resident of the Territories. She is not registered in her mother's ID card, and the charge against her is that on 22.9.10 she presented someone else's ID at the Mount Olives Checkpoint, in order to cross to Jerusalem.

Nancyadmitted her mistake, and the judge said he was "willing to let her rehabilitate herself and resume her life." She received one month suspended sentence for two years plus a 800-shekel fine, which was to be deducted from the bail she had posted.

Muhammad Ibrahim Ahmad Abu Rahma (nicknamed Abu-Nizar),

ID 54903555 – Case No. 1706/10 – deputy head of the Bil'in Council.
He had been released on bail and came from his home.
Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati
Present in the audience were Jonathan Pollack (of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee) and a reporter from Haaretz.
Abu-Nizar is charged with "activity disturbing the public peace", but mostly with incitement. He, too, was incriminated by two 15 year olds from Bil'in, who under interrogation, blurted out his name as one who encourages the villagers to participate in the weekly demonstrations against the separation fence, demonstrations that the army declared unlawful.  Abu Rahma denies the charges.
The two boys were summoned as witnesses to this evidentiary hearing, but never made it to court. It turns out that the prosecution made the summons through the DCO [District Coordination Office], where they hung the notice. The prosecutor said that "he didn't have the witnesses' phone number".
The judge reprimanded the prosecutor and instructed the prosecution to make an effort to locate the addresses and phone numbers of the witnesses.
The defense moved that "if in the next hearing no action has been taken to locate the witnesses, the prosecution will "rest its case". He also requested that the defendant not be summoned to court until the following hearing.

The defendant agreed to stay in contact with his attorney to find out when the next sessions occur.

The judge assigned the case to a Reminder session (not Evidentiary) on 10.1.11, which the defendant is not required to attend.

Courtroom 5

Tamar's report:

"Each person carries a name, given by God, by his/her parents, his
stature, his character, his smile. Each person carries a name given by his
sins, his yearning. "

26 names, twenty six IDs, 26 faces and charges, 26 truncated youths sit before Justice Sharon Rivlin-Ahai, manacled to each other.
I will tell some of their stories:

I met the parents of Ayad Housni Muhammad Bazia, ID. 854709201, from
Qalandiya Refugee Camp, as they hurried out of the compound to pay the
2000-shekel fine their son had incurred by throwing rocks at a military vehicle. His month in jail has just ended.
See earlier report from 10.11.10
c, ID 859813420, 16 years of age, from
Qalandia (see photo). His charge (from 6 months ago) is "sabotage to a military installation, by damaging a metal barrier belonging to the security forces." In other words, Ibrahim was caught on camerainfo-icon at the checkpoint rattling the metal bar that separates two lanes. Ibrahim Muhammad Hassin Abu Alaish
See earlier report from 22.7.10

After that day when I saw him sitting lonely and glum on the defendants' bench, Ibrahim was surprisingly released from detention. We spotted him again on the streets of the refugee camp and at the checkpoint, but he was silent, perhaps intimidated, perhaps ordered not to speak. Some tried to engage him, but he kept mum. Then, suddenly, he vanished again. His brother told us he had been arrested. During these months the boy had visibly matured, and the charge against him had been upgraded to "holding and trading in combat materiel."

Reading the charge sheet, as usual, lasted less than ten minutes. Those
minutes were used for communication between the son and his weeping long-suffering parents.

The hearing will continue the following week, Monday 27.12.10.

Zuhib Issa Haled Habel, ID 401365986, 17 years old, is charged with "producing and throwing an incendiary object."

The judge read the charges hurriedly. The interpreter too seemed to be in a hurry: I had a hard time following them, as I was trying to write the report. Here is what I was able to record:

- In June 2010, you threw rocks and three Molotov cocktails at a vehicle on

Rte. 443.
 -In March - you threw rocks at a truck; you stood a meter from the road and hurled rocks at the vehicle.
- In May, you stood three meters form the road, hurled rocks and hit a vehicle.
- In June, you threw rocks twice, made a Molotov cocktail and threw it at the road. You did the same at the end of the month.

Zuhib denied the allegations. The next hearing was set for Monday 24.1.11.

The system is precise and efficient: each kid receives only a few minutes. The court is busy, there's a quota to fill. This is an assembly line of hearings, no sentiments, no drama.

Between cases, the jurists and the judge held a conversation. The judge voiced her opinion about the current DAs' strike. Then she wondered about a violation in a case brought before her on 10.11.10 (a boy who tried to smuggle a Molotov cocktail at Qalandiya Checkpoint).
"What's the point of passing a fire bomb through the checkpoint? Why not make it at the gas station on the other side?" The judge giggled at the prosecutor who retorted: "Maybe they thought they wouldn't find fuel there?"
The prosecutor (who is pregnant and will soon become a mother) does not see the defendant as a child. She regards Fares Badran, the kid from Qalandiya Refugee Camp only as a threatening enemy.
For a report on Fares's trial see the link above from 10.11.10

Wassim Said Saadi Alkarki, ID 854620697, 15 years old, from Hebron. He has
the face of a young tender child.
The charge sheet mentions: Property.
When the judge mentions a plea bargain involving 3000 shekels, his father gets up crying out that he cannot afford such a sum.
The judge responds: "What shall we do with this kid? (yes, "we", as if she and the father are in cahoots) He has strayed from the straight and narrow."
The father: I beat him with iron, look at his hands (the judge passes). I have my methods. Sometimes I hang him."
I thought perhaps the learned judge would apply the laws of the land that protect children against tormentors and abusers. Had Wassim been Jewish, the entire system would have been scandalized. But a Palestinian child is different, and the judge's heart did not go out to the abused child who kept looking pleadingly at his father. She concluded in a patronizing, pedagogical tone: "Let him learn a trade, let him become a man!"
Father: We sent him to vocational school, but he refused to go.
In her summation the judge mentioned the agreement and set the next hearing to 3.1.11.

Outside the court, I asked the father about his son's violation. "You know, we live next to the Cave of the Patriarchs. He stole a bottle of gas from the soldiers".
A man standing nearby explained: He means a gas grenade.