Ofer - Danger to Regional Security, Remand Extension

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Norah Orlow, Avital Toch (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

When we walked in, a father from Qatana village approached us and asked us to check when his son's remand hearing would take place. The son, Muhammad Abd Al Aziz Fakiya is a minor - 13.5 years old - and was arrested about a week and half ago. We then went to attend remand extensions sessions, but until noon, his case had not come up. There were many youngsters that day in court.

Courtroom 5, Remand extensions

Today was Hebron's day. Minors and youngsters have been kept in detention for many days.

Judge - Major (res.) Moti Schiff

Prosecutor - Sagi

All told, there are 38 detention cases.

When the military machine is in full swing this is what the process looks like: the detainee is brought in, his attorney exchanges a few words with him, then turns to the judge and they exchange the usual phrases; the judge then turns to the typist and dictates his decision. Today, from where we were seated, in complete silence, we could hear only murmurs.

A frequent problem in these procedures is that the detaineesinfo-icon who are not represented by attorneys: how will their case be presented? How can a minor who was suddenly arrested and spent many days in a dark cell hire a defense attorney? Can he call Ram Caspi [a famous Israeli lawyer]?

Sometimes the court appoints a defense attorney; sometimes the detainee is remanded in custody without a trial. Some detainees do not qualify for the defense services of "Nadi Al Assir" [a Palestinian organization which provides legal services]. Some don't have money to post bail, not even a symbolic sum, and thus are forced to stay in detention.

Since there are so many cases today, the detainees are processed very rapidly. Each has to state his name and other identifying details, name his attorney and the charges brought against him, and also assert that he understands what is going on. All this in two languages.

A typical dialog:

Interpreter: Why is he back?

Prison Guard: We already processed him.

Interpreter: You processed him?

Where is his protocol?

-What's his name? -Jib.

The next two detainees were brought in together. This is how their case was processed:

Maed Hamed, Case No. 2700/08. ID No. 411362825

The detainee was admitted into the courtroom, conferred with his attorney, spoke to two women sitting behind us (wife, sister) and walked out. The hearing, we were told, will take place this coming Tuesday. The attorney had just received the file, and this was probably their first meeting - two minutes in the most public place.

Saleh A-din Shehadeh, Case No. 2692/08. ID No. 99448731

The detainee has no attorney. His family has not arrived. The judge appoints an attorney who will inform him about the date of his next hearing. Then the detainee is taken out.

Muhammad Amira, Case No. 2691/08, ID No. 910285972

He, too, is not represented by an attorney. The judge calls on Attorney Nubani to explain the complicated procedure, then the detainee is let out.

As we were leaving the hall, a young man approached us and introduced himself. He is Muhammad Amira's brother. They are both from Ni'ilin. His brother was arrested after taking part in a demonstration. The young man did not know if his brother had an attorney, or what his name might be; he was not familiar with the procedure of detention and hearing, and of all the other misfortunes that befell his long suffering village (apart from the separation wall). We gave him the phone number of a lawyer who represents Ni'ilin detainees.

Samer Alatarash, Case No. 3793/08, ID No. 850626772

Samer Alatarash looks very young. He, too, has no attorney, so the court appoints Attorney Nubani to represent him. The first conference between attorney and client, which is supposed to be private, takes place in front of us. As a result, the young, smiling Samer stays in court longer, arguing about the fine, which he cannot afford, and greeting the other youngsters admitted into court. He chats with them and tries to allay their fears. It turns out that they are all from Hebron.

Prosecutor: He is willing to admit that on July 24 he parked his car near the Cave of the Patriarchs and had a knife in his possession...

Interpreter to detainee: 5000 shekels

Prosecutor: If he can't pay, the court should consider detention and fine.

Judge: He must be released today. The time served in jail is equivalent to probation.

Defense: He has no money at all.

Judge: His sentence should not exceed the days he spent in detention. He has no criminal record. He has no money to pay the fine, and he is only 22.

Two kids enter. A sad silence descends on the court at the sight of them.

Hamza Fahori, from Hebron. Case No. 3791, ID No. 853056265

It says in his record that he is 17. He looks like a 12 year old.

Shadi Alfahuri, from Hebron, Case No. 37/90, ID No. 852172667

He, too, looks 12, but is officially 16. Despite the slight difference in the last name, they are apparently brothers.

They were arrested on July 24 when they attempted to break into a car near the Cave of the Patriarchs. That must have been a busy day for the Hebron police.

Both detainees are represented by Attorney Nubani. They are dressed in white T shirts and grey sweatpants. But this is no GPS summer camp: they are handcuffed. Hamza is calm while Shadi prays continuously, his face looks desperate. Samer talks to him soothingly playing the part of family members who did not show up.

The judge tries to determine the ages of the boys.

Following the defense counsel, they admit to the break in...on the specific day and time...

The boys are taken out. The judge whispers his decision to the typist and we are unable to hear.

Interrogators in civilian cloths enter the small courtroom and the usual hubbub resumes.

The investigator Rueven Shamir joins the Prosecution.

3 young men are brought in. Their hearing is identical to the previous ones.

A unit... connected to security violations... confidential material necessitating continued investigation...

The prosecution requests 12-day remand extension; there's evidence connecting the defendant to security violations... confidential material...

Defense: Why was he not interrogated in detention?

Investigator: During the 12 days detention efforts were made to compete the investigation...

Defense: Requests an alternative to detention, or a shorter remand of a few days.

Investigator: Evidence of connection to terror unit included in the secret file... Interrogation... Suspicions...

The judge's decision: Remand extension until next Sunday.

Alaa Albatash, Case No. 3782, ID No. 854383007

A minor (17 years old) from Hebron.

Arrested on July 27 near Beit Hadassah in Hebron with a knife in his bag.

Defense: Attorney Abu Ahmad

The prosecutor and the defense agree to close the case today. The debate is about the fine, which the detainee is unable to pay.

Defense: He confessed and expressed remorse.

The decision: jail time to coincide with time spent in detention, probation and 500 shekel fine.

Mahdi Rahman Abu Hatem, Case No. 3792/08, ID No. 858663693

The detainee is 19 years old, with no criminal record. He was arrested while trying to break into a car. He is represented by Attorneys Nubani and Abu Ahmad.

He, too, cannot afford to pay the fine and is remanded in custody for 10 days in lieu of the 1000 shekel fine.

Muhamd Abu Riaze

Defense: Attorney Shadi Jaber

Prosecutor: The defendant forged an ID card, resisted search, acted violently: "assault and injury to a policeman."

Defense: The defendant was arrested for staying in Israel illegally. He was released the same day and told to report to a police station near his home, to receive his ID card (which remained in Tel-Aviv). On his way to the police, he was stopped by two soldiers, who demanded to see his ID. The defendant explained that he was on his way to the police and had an alternative document. The soldiers were not convinced and forcibly conducted a bodily search.

The defendant denies the allegations, and the defense points to inconsistencies in the soldiers' testimony: One describes the defendant taking out his belongings; the other claims he refused to do so. One states he forced the suspect to the floor, the other claims the defendant hit him. How could a man lying on the floor hit him, the defense wants to know.

The defense requests an alternative punishment to detention, in accordance with the way events really happened.

Judge: Remand extension until the conclusion of proceedings. The defendant assaulted two policemen. The two sides don't agree ... There are some inconsistencies, as the defense pointed out. Perhaps the events did not happen as described by the witnesses, but as often in such cases, this may be the result of the surprise and swiftness of the defendant's actions. The defense's claims will be examined in the hearing process... The defendant himself did not contest some of the allegations. Here, too, I side with the prosecution... The defendant poses threat to the public and to security in the area, a constant concern for people living in the territories. Particularly severe is the fact that the defendant did not hesitate to attack two policemen.