Ofer - Stone Throwing, Administrative Detention

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Tamar Fleischman, Ofra Ben Artzi (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

My First Impressions - Tamar Fleischman:

Two rows of chairs await the families near the door. We, the Jews, are seated in the front, while the prisoners' families sit in the back. On the side is the defendants' cage. Two young men are inside: they are handcuffed and shackled, tied to each other with metal cuffs. The one closer to me stares at the far corner of the room, his cheeks are tearstained, and his wet dark eyes glow in silence. I follow his eyes and see his mother: her face, too, is streaked with tears,  her blazing eyes carry on a silent, wordless dialog with her son.

We report on three hearings that were postponed and did not take place, causing the Palestinian detaineesinfo-icon to languish longer in jail. These are the new "Days of Awe" - from Holocaust Day to Memorial Day - days of ceremonies. At Ofer there's a ceremony for soldiers, so the hearings start an hour late. A hearing of a high school student - pale and trembling - was postponed by a month because the prosecutor had to attend a ceremony in Tel Aviv.

It turns out that a "special commando" was sent to Bil'in in the night between April 12 and 13 to summon Halil Yasin, an incriminating witness in the case of Abdullah Abu Rahma, the "Palestinian Gandhi" a member of the Popular Committee Against the Separation Fence.

We also witness another case - one of many- of political administrative detention, this time of a woman.

Judge: Major Etty Adar

Prosecutor: Captain Odelia Amos

Defense: Atty. Gaby Lasky

Defendant: Abdullah Abu Rahma, ID. 997446703 - Case No. 5327/09

The prosecution was unable to present any of the witnesses on its list, so the hearing began with a discussion of the reasons for their absence and ended with setting dates for hearings in the coming weeks. Although the judge made efforts to coalesce the hearings, Abdullah who has been detained for 4 months ‘until the conclusion of the process' requested the floor: "... who will guarantee that after so much time in jail... I will be compensated? I did not harm anyone. If I'm released, let the trial last five years, I am not going anywhere..." It was clear that the witnesses were trying to avoid testifying. The prosecutor said: "this is the second time that the witness finds an excuse not to appear." When the detention depends on underage incriminators - like Halil Yasin  (and it is easy to imagine by what means the incriminations were extracted), there's no wonder that they avoid testifying in court, try to flee and require "special commandos" to haul them in. The prosecutor said as much: "As for this particular witness, I request a subpoena, and when it is issued, a force should be sent to bring the witness into custody..."

Defense: Atty. Naser Anani

Defendant: Muntazar Ibrahim Issa Abrigit - Case No. 5429/09

Charge: throwing rocks.

The defendant was a minor when he was arrested.

As mentioned earlier, there was no substantive hearing, just a postponement for a month, because the prosecutor had to attend a ceremony somewhere. Muntazar sat pale and trembling. His face lit up when his parents entered. Here is the father's story:

Muntazar, from Beit Umar, was first arrested during a demonstration when he was 17, in March 2009. His friend was shot and killed there. His parents did not know where he was. After 4 months he was released. Although he missed school for so long, the Palestinian Ministry of Education helped him and he finished the school year. On 21.12.09 20 soldiers broke into the house and arrested Muntazar. He wasn't 18 yet. He had been incriminated by friends, charged with throwing rocks at the military tower that stands at the entrance to the village (Area B). Muntazar stands to lose a whole school year and miss the Matriculation Exams. As for his medical condition, we shall connect his family with the relevant organizations.

Defense: Ahmad Safiya

Defendant: Muntaha Al-Tawil - Case No. 1433/10. Administrative detainee at Sharon Prison

Charge: membership and holding a position

In this case, too, the hearing was postponed because the defense is not familiar with the case.

We gathered the following details from the attorney and from Shosh, from the Committee for (female) Prisoners: Muntaha was arrested on 8.2.10. Two weeks later, on 21.2.10, when the court was about to release her, the GSS issued an order for administrative detention, which is still in force. Muntaha is the wife of El-Bira mayor, has several children and is a student.