Ofer - Shooting, Holding and trading of combat materiel

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Hava Halevi, Hagit Shlonsky

Translation: Marganit W.

Courtroom 4

Judge: Major Menachem Lieberman

32 detaineesinfo-icon in the docket. Two are released on bail (charge: throwing objects) here for a memorandum hearing. The rest were brought over from a Prison Authority detention center, probably from Ofer.

More than half of the detainees (18) are accused of membership and activity and/or holding a position in an illegal organization (among the organizations mentioned: Kutla Islamiya, Islamic Jihad, Al Furkan, Tahrir el-Islam, Charity Committee). Ten are accused of various terrorist activities: preparation (of explosives), throwing objects, planting bombs and explosives, possession and trading of combat material). One detainee is accused of shooting and another of attempted homicide.

From 9:30 to 12:30 twelve cases were processed. Some (arraignments,  memorandum sessions) lasted about 3 minutes: there was an identification by the judge and a day was set for further hearing. One case was summarily discussed, while the defendant, who has been detained for 8 months, was not present. Another case, referred to as "interesting" by the judge, ended in the release of the detainee.

Here are 3 of the 12 cases discussed in our presence that morning:

Ahmad Muhammad Ibrahim Hushiya (file # 2037/08) ID 9098551017.

His family is not present in the courtroom.

Accused of holding a position in Kutla Islamiya. He denies the allegation.

Defense: Ilya Theodori.

So far, the prosecution and the defense have not discussed an agreement. The prosecution plans to bring in several witnesses.

Date of next hearing set for 25.8.08.

Anas Hamdel-Abed Amar (file # 3764/08) ID 006454717.

The detainee admits to working in Al Furkan (Al Hurkan?) organization, which belongs to Hamas, from 2006 until his arrest. From early 2007 until his arrest he has provided services for the organization.

He is represented by Ilya Theodori.

The prosecution accepts the defense's contention that the defendant's involvement with the organization was limited and marginal.

The judge accepts the agreement between the prosecution and the defense: 14 months in jail plus 20 months probation plus 2000 shekels fine.

Yusef Hasin Hariosh Barigia (file # 5261/07) ID 945057958.

A hearing of arguments regarding a penalty of which the defendant was partially acquitted.

Defense: Attorney Haled Elaraj.

A Bethlehem dentist in custody for 7 months for membership and holding a position in an illegal organization. The organization in question is "The Charity Committee". In 2005 he was a candidate of the "Reform and Change Movement" in the election for Bethlehem city council, but when he lost, he went back to his dentistry and severed all ties with the organization. He has six children. "I was never a threat to state security," he states.

The judge is critical of the prosecution's conduct. It never investigated the alleged activities. They were not investigated during the remand hearings either. The judge acquits him of two counts, but finds him guilty of two others: his candidacy on behalf of the organization constitutes "holding a position" which is an offense according to Clause 85b...(It seems to me that acquitting him altogether would expose a greater shame: bogus arrest. Thus, the judge finds a way to justify the arrests while exhibiting a modicum of justice. H.S.)

The prosecutor insists that "the defendant's actions were anti-social" and requests that the decision would include " component of jail time and probation, according to the court's discretion...

The defense argues that there should be a distinction between political and civic actions... the defendant was not involved in activity that endangers security in the region...

Decision: 6 months in jail, from the day of arrest, plus 6 months probation.

The prosecution requests a 24-hour delay to consider appeal.

Twenty-four hours later, we find out from the family that the prosecution appealed and the appellate court decision was to release the man but with a 2000 shekel fine.

In addition to our observations of Courtroom 4:

Outside the waiting area many people wait who have some dealings with this court, but the soldiers have their orders (and refuse to let them enter the compound).

One man, released from jail, has come to collect his personal effects. He has the right form with a list of belongings but is barred from entering. Why? Because the soldier at the gate asked him: Are you here for a trial? And he said, No, wanting to explain, but the soldiers have their orders. So the man waited outside for hours.

One old man was alarmed by the attempt to frisk him and resisted. The soldiers immediately threw him out. They have their orders.

A woman "heard a rumor" that her son was reported for remand extension today. She was not sure; they have no lawyer; she does not speak Hebrew and is afraid of the soldiers. Thus, she waits outside with another son, not daring to address the soldiers. What would she say to them?

It is not our job to impose order on military courts, but our members who observe the proceedings should try to do what they can to help those waiting outside. For the most part, these are simple undertakings.

Traffic Court

8 people sit on the benches. They are here to hear the judge's question and to answer, "Yes" to the following questions:

-What is your name?

-Did you sign this? (meaning the form that the traffic violator signed before the trial in which he pled guilty and agreed to pay the fine decided by the police prosecutor). -Yes.

-You reached an agreement? - Yes.

-Have you paid the sum? -Yes.

-So you understand that you receive nothing and pay nothing? - Yes.

That's all. The trial for which they came here is over and the judge's task is done.

The verdict is a 1000 shekel fine (paid in advance, as guarantee that the person will show up in court), plus two months suspension of driver's license for two years.

The defendants leave the court with the papers - written in Hebrew - in their hands. During the half hour I sat in court, five such cases were processed and the state of Israel gained 5000 shekels. Some days, a hundred traffic violators pass through the court.

Traffic courts are in session once a fortnight, also at Salem military court.

A simple calculation gives you an idea of the kind of state organized robbery that takes place there.