Ofer - Shooting, Holding and trading of combat materiel

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Yehudit Sternberg, Hava Halevy

Translation: Marganit W.

Judges: Sgt.-Maj. Amir Dahan, Major Menahem Lieberman

Prosecutor ?

Defense: Aadel Hameissi

The defendant, Arafat Abu Shaira, is a 24 year old single man from Al Azali refugee camp near Bethlehem.

We attended the deliberations of Abu Shaira's sentencing. We first reported on his trial on 9.8.09.

If you have the patience to read this report to the end , the laconic descriptions will give you an idea of reality in the occupied territories -  military activity on the one hand, and the pressure cooker of what's referred to as "the texture of life of Palestinians in the West Bank" on the other.

The prosecutor moved for a severe punishment to fit the severe charges. She described the defendant as a military operative who over a long period of time sabotaged security in the area through his activity in the "Shuhada el Aqsa "organization. He routinely attacked Israeli targets as detailed below:

- He was in charge of a military unit, participating in 6 separate  incidents of throwing pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails manufactured by him and others.

- Implicated himself in 4 charges of shooting at Jewish neighborhoods,     army bases and Israeli vehicles.

- With accomplices, planned to plant an explosive charge in Mahane Yehuda market. The plot was rejected  for fear of harsh Israeli retaliation.

- Discussed (maybe even planned) to kidnap one or more Israeli soldiers. His unit received money for the kidnapping and was about to receive more money for military purposes.

- Actively participated in resisting IDF forces that came to arrest men in the area wanted by the army. They came armed intent on harming the soldiers. Two soldiers were slightly injured in the incident.

- On several occasions the weapons failed to shoot, but there fire broke out near the soldiers.

When the prosecutor was done with the charges, she submitted precedents in which the sentences were 10, 15 or more years. She reiterated that the penalty should be stiff but did not specify what sentence the prosecution was asking for.

The defense described the difficult personal and familial situation of the defendant - conditions that typify most of the West Bank population: interrupted education, sick or handicapped parents, unemployment, and financial straights.

Argument for leniency:

- As for the charge of arm possession - the gun in question was given to him by the Palestinian Authority.

- The six counts of possession, training, and manufacturing arms, as well as the charge of throwing incendiary objects - they were committed in 2001 when the defendant was 16 years old.

- The four charges regarding shooting at a person in 2003 - there is no mention of distance, so according to the defense, the shooting was not effective and there was no loss of life or property.

- In another count of shooting at a person, the defendant did not shoot. He was sitting in a car while his accomplices were shooting. No damage was caused to people or property. In this case too, the shooting was not effective.

- The charges of military training were actually in reference to taking apart and assembling a gun.

- The charge of arms trading refers to a failed attempt to sell a gun.

- The kidnapping charge - there was some talk of kidnapping but it was just talk.

Sentence will be handed down at a later date.