Ofer - Release on Bail, Danger to Regional Security

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Tamar Fleishman (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

What does a Jewish Judge know about childhood in Qalandiya Refugee Camp?

Whenever I go to the military court I fear I might recognize one of the defendants. This happened today as I entered Courtroom 7. I froze when I saw the face of the smallest child I had ever seen on the defendants' bench. None of his relatives was present: there was no one to support him or send him encouraging looks. I tried for a long time to get his attention, for his face to register some recognition. Eventually, he nodded but did not smile. He looked a bit detached, as if only his body was present there, looking even smaller than his usual self. He has the face of a child, the body of child, but since he is Palestinian, at his age he is no longer a minor and considered mature enough to stand trial.

Ibrahim Abu-Al Ala'ish - ID. 859813420. He is one of those kids always seen in the background at Qalandiya checkpoint. Like the barbed wire fences, the walls, the blaring loudspeakers on the watchtowers, the children of the camp are always there, trailing the passengers, trying to sell their meager merchandise, clean car windows with a filthy rag or begging, "Can you spare a shekel..."

These are "Aya's children", although in fact it is the other way around, she is "Aya of the children."

As I walked in, Justice Moshe Levi announced, "Indictment has been submitted for sabotage to an army installation: there was damage to a barrier, an iron rod, belonging to the security forces."

In other words, Ibrahim was caught shaking a metal bar, a traffic barrier in front of the checkpoint.

The defense moved to release the boy: "The defendant did not cause any damage. The children were playing at the Qalandiya Checkpoint: it was just a game, and there was no damage to the rail."

The prosecution made the release contingent on a 3000-shekel fine and other conditions.

Defense: "In view of the family's economic situation, the circumstances of the offense and the minimal damage, a 100-shekel fine should suffice."

The Judge's Decision: "there is a prior conviction for rock throwing from 2009. Upon examining the file... it is indeed a case of children playing rather than willful intention to damage IDF installation. After consideration I order the defendant released on three conditions:

1. 750-shekel fine.

2. "Self bail" for 2000 shekels.

3. Third party bail for 3000 shekels.

Arraignment hearing was set for 9.8.10 in Justice Sharon Rivlin-Ahai's court.

From the little I know about Ibrahim's family's situation and their background, it is clear that the conditions will not be met and he will not be released from detention any time soon.

2.Courtroom 3

When I go with the kids to the zoo, I give animals a carrot. Here (the state? The court?) there is no carrot, only kicks. You know what a kick is?

Ibrahim Rashid Hassin Alakel, ID 989681309, resident of Tohana near Hebron, married to an Israeli woman and father of four.

Ibrahim is prevented from living with his wife and children by the law that governs citizenships, and since he is not yet 35 years old (he is 33) his request for temporary resident status, which will allow the family to unite, is not yet under review. When he tried to pass through Hussan Checkpoint to visit his family, he was apprehended, charged and sentenced for 15 days in jail, plus 3-year probation.

"The probation clause is the worst," he says.

His attorney, Naim Abu-Yakub appealed the verdict and offered a plea bargain, whereby the probation would be reduced to two years (until Ibrahim turns 35) and the jail time would be reduced to 14 days.

Defense: He has no record. I reiterate the reasons for the appeal: there are special circumstances in this case that call for mitigation. These circumstances have to do with the unification of the family and with his relation to his wife. Hence, I move to reduce the terms of probation.

When the defense had rested its case, after requesting that the court's decision allow Ibrahim to appeal to the DCO for family unification in 2 years, the judge concluded: "Decision will be handed down later today."

Ibrahim waited outside the court, in the enclosure, until 3 PM. Only then did he hear from his attorney that the judge postponed his decision to Sunday.