Ofer - Plea Bargain, Interrogation of Witness

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Hagit Slonsky, Hava Halevi (reporting)


Translation: Marganit W.


Courtroom 5

Judge: Major Meir Vigiser

Prosecutor: Captain Rachel Aviv (with 37 pink files on her desk)

We attended several hearings, most of them of administrative nature where the defense declared its position (accepting the charges or not, plea bargain or not, postponement to a later date etc.). In some cases both verdict and sentence were handed down.


Muhammad Rashad Muhammad Al-Jabari – ID 905709200

He is accused of membership and activity in an unlawful organization.

Defense: Atty. Fadi Qawassme

The defendant denies the allegations, but the attorney states: “I would certainly opt for an agreement (code name for ‘plea bargain’).

No family member of the defendant was present in court.

The trial will continue on 4.2.13.


Muhammad Abed Alahmad Hadirat – ID 853721512

Accused of leaving the territory without a permit.

Defense: Atty. Ilya Teodory

This is another case in which Israel declares the West Bank a ghetto. The defendant, a 20 year old, admits he crossed the security fence, infiltrating Israel on two occasions in search of work.

The prosecutor offers a bargain: 3 months and one day in prison, starting with his arrest.

The defense agrees and Hadirat is convicted on a charge of twice leaving the area without a permit.

The punishment, then, is 91 days plus suspended sentence of 3 months for two years.

The judge: “The crime of leaving the area without a permit harbors potential danger for security in the region.” The implication is that when residents of the region leave it without permission, the region is in danger. Where is Hanoch Levin [satirist] when we need him?


Haled Jamal Ibrahim Faraj – ID 946924123

He is accused of membership and activity in an unlawful organization.

This is the concluding session in the case.

Defense: Atty. Mahmoud Hassan.

Faraj was arrested on Nov. 2011. The charge is: attempt to throw an incendiary object. Since May 2011 until his arrest he was a member of a military unit that planned to kidnap collaborators with Israel. They only planned it. They planned to throw rocks at military jeeps, but the jeeps never showed up, so no rocks were thrown. Another thing that was about to happen but did not: On Aug. 2011 they threw rocks at the fence in Daheishe.


Verdict: The judge delivered the usual paternalistic concluding statement, comparing the defendants to wayward children in need of education. The judge said, “The charges are not serious, but the defendant did not mend his ways when given the opportunity. He is no longer a youngster, and he admitted the charge. In addition, the Palestinian Authority has also taken measures against him, and besides, his membership in the organization was relatively short.”

Punishment: 31 months in jail, plus 10 months suspended sentence for 5 years, plus a 4000 shekels fine.


Ayman Amin Ahmad Nasser – ID 981581069

Accused of membership and activity in an unlawful organization (Popular Front)

Defense: Atty. Mahmoud Hassan

Ayman Nasser, a reseacher in “Addameer” is accused of being a member and providing services to an unlawful organization. The charge sheet seriously alleges that he gave 200 shekels to another member to finance a bus trip that would drive members of the Popular Front to a demonstration on  Prisoners’ Day. He is also accused of giving that member leaflets to distribute at a rally in Ramallah.

When I read these allegations, my blood did not curdle in my veins.

Another charge accuses Mr. Nasser of taking part in preparations for Prisoners’ Day Commemoration and of being present at the parade – on behalf of the Popular Front Organization. At the rally, several masked people incited against Israel, encouraging the crowd to attack the IDF and kidnap soldiers.

You may remember my earlier report of this case. In order to ‘cook’ this insubstantial case, Ayman was detained for 39 days, held under inhuman conditions, humiliated and possibly tortured. He was interrogated for long hours, often more than 20 hours straight, with his hand tied behind a chair and blindfolded. Between interrogations he was kept in solitary confinement under harsh conditions. After all this, miracle of miracles! The prosecution was able to draft an indictment seeking to prove that Mr. Nasser is an activist for Palestinian prisoners’ rights; moreover, he has connections to the Prisoners’ Day rally, which commemorates Abu Ali Mustafa.

The defense rejected all those allegations, and today began the evidentiary trial in which the military prosecutor questioned the witness Muhammad Anuar Muhammad Zeytun. These examinations can be tedious, a kind of cat-and-mouse game. The mouse tries to hide, he does not remember, he denies; the cat thinks he has a trump card: a police statement extracted during an interrogation that followed the arrest. With irony that has long become jades, the prosecutor “refreshes the witness’s memory. From the police statement, he cites names of participants, dates and activities. But the answers reveal what we already know about the police methods of interrogation: threats, intimidations, false promises, torture and doctored details. In this case, there was sleep deprivation.

The witness said repeatedly, “I was promised that if I sign on the photos, I would be allowed to sleep. During the interrogation, after 40 hours, we were forced to sign these statements. They said I could go to sleep after I sign.”  Apparently, blows are not necessary: tiredness, loss of the sense of reality and helplessness are evident from the protocol (Hebrew) – these measures do not leave marks.

He was interrogated for 48 days. The interrogator showed him photos that he claimed had been taken from the internet: they bear no date, the witness has no idea who took those photos: “there were names that they forced me to mention and photos that they forced me to sign, stating that they were authentic. This was in exchange for being allowed to go to sleep.”

In the next session, the policeman who took the witness’s statement will testify. The policeman will say [mark my words], that as far as he can remember, there was nothing unusual about the interrogation, and the witness said everything voluntarily.


An evidentiary hearing was set for 4.2.13 at 14:30.