Ofer - Interrogation of Witness, Incitement

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Observers: Norah Orlow, Hava Halevi (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

Continuation of the trial of Bassem Tamimi from Nabi Salah village – Case No. 2058/11

(see previous reports: 26.10.11  /  2.11.11)

 Judge: Major Etty Adar

Prosecutor: Captain Michael Avitan

Defense: Atty. Labib Habib

Evidentiary hearing

Apart from the defendant’s family, there is a large delegation of Anarchists Against the Fence and various diplomats (from France, Belgium and England). Netanyahu Junior is absent from court today. It falls to Yonatan Pollak to do the spokesperson’s and translator’s jobs.

A Captain from Givati Brigade (?) testifies. He was part of the unit that was sent to control the protest at Nabi Salah, and now shares his experiences with the court.

He describes how the protest started following Friday prayers at the mosque, when the youngsters started hurling rocks, using what the army calls “David’s slings” (slingshots).

The use of the term David’s sling is interesting, since it indicates that the army knows full well who is David and who is Goliath in this story.

The witness was positioned about 50-100 meters from the protesters who numbered about 50. They threw rocks and gas grenades, which the witness claims were IDF unexploded grenades. Several dozen people were standing on the rooftops. A rock hit him in the shin and broke his leg. He was taken to hospital.

The prosecutor presents medical documents. We did not see them, so unfortunately we cannot discuss them. They became quite interesting later. The prosecution rested its case and the defense started the cross-examination.

The soldier reiterated that his leg was broken by the rock, saying dramatically, “the leg simply broke in two,” which I found hard to comprehend. It later transpired that 3 months after the incident the witness returned to the same army base and resumed his activity. He needed several operations, he said, and is still not back to full activity. The defense produced the release papers from the hospital where the soldier describes how he was injured: he twisted his leg and fell while running. Perhaps he fell and then twisted his leg. At any rate, there is no dramatic breaking of the leg into two as a result of being hit by a rock.

-This is what you told the doctors at the hospital?

- No, I did not.

-So they invented this?

-I don’t know.

The defense abandoned this line of interrogation. Apparently, what we had heard so far was sufficient. The witness said nothing about Tamimi’s presence at the demonstration where he, the soldier, was so seriously injured. The attorney told me later, “I deal only with what is relevant to my client’s case. The soldier did not incriminate him.

In this respect, we were just wasting our time.

What about the other witnesses, whose testimony the court has been waiting to hear for more than a month? They did not show up. Investigator Jalal Awida sent word that he was not feeling well today. The court administration contacted Islam Tamimi’s father yesterday and he told them that Islam is taking an exam today, and he himself is working and cannot leave without prior notice.

Then the court discussed administrative matters, dates, future hearings etc.

Next hearing: Wednesday 23.11.11. You can book seats ahead.

Other hearings when witnesses will be summoned: 28.11.11/ 1.12.11.


Norah adds:

During an intermission in the hearing I remained in the hall and had a chance to talk to Bassem Tamimi (in detention at Ofer for 8 months now). I asked him about the conditions of his incarceration. There are 10 people in the cell. There is no heating (only blankets). Since March 2011he was allowed only one visit from his family.

Moreover, since the release of Gilad Shalit there has been no easing of the conditions in the detention centers/ prisons. (Conditions were deliberately made harsher BEFORE Shalit’s release). The conditions remained the same.