Ofer - Plea Bargain, Stone Throwing
Translation: Marganit W.
We always say that Ofer represents the essence of the occupation, but for a long time now we have not had such a difficult time containing all that takes place there.
The hearings in the halls were the usual ones, remand extensions, Palestinians staying illegally inside Israel with plea-bargains, someone with a combined administrative and criminal charges, requiring a week to decide whether to coalesce the two (as Justice Sigal Tourjaman recommends).
Another detainee is accused that in November 2012 he threw a firebomb, and 6 months earlier he had thrown rocks. The indictment says it happened during Operation Protective Shield. The interpreter tried hard to translate it, and finally settle for “during the war in Gaza”. [Indeed, it is too much to ask interpreters to know all the names of Israel’s incursions into Gaza. – N.A.] The young man has been in detention since 9.4.14, and his plea bargain contained 18 months in jail, 2000 shekel fine and a few months’ suspended sentence for 5 years “for all those acts of violence.”
Another detainee, represented by Atty. Abir Merar, refused to accept the plea bargain and requested to exchange his attorney for one from the Prisoners’ Club. Atty. Merar was furious, explaining that she had been hired by the family. The judge did not like it either. But despite these angry reactions, the detainee stood his ground, and eventually, Atty. Nubani, who was present in court, agreed to represent him.
In Justice Vigiser’s court there was a hearing of the case of
Yasser Jahalin, even though his attorney Franco requested a postponement. The judge refused, saying many witnesses were scheduled to appear. Eventually, the case was moved to a memorandum hearing on 29.12.14 and later to an evidentiary hearing on 2.2.15.
I have reported earlier on this bizarre case, which at first had 16 detainees (following a 6-months long secret investigation) and now has two. It is not clear what will happen next.
Among other topics addressed, Justice Tourjeman read a very long indictment: a case that began with a drive along Rte. 446 and involved crossing a dividing line, then a chase by the police, a clash with a police car and an escape.
On 18.8.14 the police again encountered the same person and tried to arrest him. At the end of the chase the Palestinian hit a tunnel wall, then drove to Kafr-Shukba, abandoned the vehicle and escaped on foot. He managed to evade the police even when they reached him and used a taser. The saga ended on 8.9 when a police force came to the village to arrest him (not before they shot him in the lower part of his body). He is still suffering from the injury and in court he could not rise from his seat. His brother, who sat next to me, said he wants an investigation into why his brother is injured also in his upper body.
Atty. Haled Al-Araj represented him in the arraignment, but has not decided if he is going to represent him. The case will continue on 6.1.15.
Monday is also traffic violations day, so again we witnessed a strange sight in the yard where a fence separates the Palestinians from the prosecution: a big pile of folders lay on the asphalt, and the prosecutor, with the interpreter, was arguing with the people about agreements even before they entered the court. It was clear that this procedure was necessary if all the cases were to be heard today.
One of the reasons I came today was to attend the hearing of
Nisreen Tabhana from Jalasun Refugee Camp.
Nisreen arrived at Qalandiya Checkpoint one Friday during Ramadan with an intention to pray at Al-Aqsa. When the soldiers barred her way, she told them it was her right to pray, for which she was rewarded with blows on the head and an arrest.
She was detained for 20 days at Sharon Prison, then was released on bail for 3500 shekels.
Today, an agreement was reached – jail time to correspond with time already served plus 2500 shekel fine.
In the courtyard we spoke to a mother of a 14.5 year old boy from Aida Refugee Camp. The mother is a gym teacher at the local school. She described how her son had been abducted while riding his bike in the street.
Another woman, a widow from Bethlehem told us how her son was eating in a restaurant when the soldiers nabbed him. She thinks they were looking for someone else and it was a case of mistaken identity. In the meantime he is in jail.
We had a very painful encounter with the parents of Yithrab Saleh Rian. Yithrab is the 16 year old girl photographed at Qalandiya Checkpoint being thrown from one soldier to another. She was taken to Sharon Prison. We spoke to the father: the mother just sat there completely frozen. We were not allowed to witness the hearing, but Atty. Tareq Bargout, who represents her, told me later that another hearing would take place on 10.12.14. On Wednesday night I called Bargout who informed me that an additional hearing was set for 14.12.14.
An elderly Palestinian who learned from us why we are there and what we are writing, told me that whatever we write is for hawa (nothing but air). But it was said pleasantly.
All the people we talked to (and listened to) were full of sympathy and accepted our solidarity with gratitude.