Ofer - Interrogation of Witness, Separation Barrier

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צופות ומדווחות: 
Yehudit Sternberg, Hava Halevi

Translation: Marganit W.

We went to observe the trial of Hussam Shaheen who had been sentenced to 18 years in jail. In the meantime new charges have been pressed against him, of a similar nature to the original charges. An additional trial had been conducted against him in the last year. Prior to entering we met his father, whom we knew from the earlier trial, three years ago. He informed us that the trial was cancelled due to the attorney's illness. In response to our question, he told us that no one from the family had seen Hussam since his trial ended, and that they knew very little about his circumstances. The father had hoped to see his son today, but was disappointed.

We went in to watch the conclusion of the defense in the trial of Abdulla Abu Rahma. Yonatan Polack, who never misses a session, was there with several representatives of foreign embassies. We saw Abu Rahma conducting his own defense. The prosecution tries to prove that he is one of the leaders of the struggle, a member of the Committee Against the Fence, a security risk etc. There were many questions about combat materiel.

In case you forgot, let us remind you: Bil'in residents collect the empty tear gas cans, the rubber bullets and empty shells that fill the streets after the demonstrations and after the army's nightly raids. This arsenal is gathered and displayed in a central site near the mosque, as PR and as a demonstration of the IDF exploits, for the benefit of the many visitors, ISM personnel and consular representatives.

Unfortunately for Abu Rahme, his house stands near the mosque, so during the trial he was constantly asked about weapons, arms, combat materiel. Apparently, they are trying to pin on him a charge of arms trading. But remember: these are empty cans
and shells!
The prosecution tried to find inconsistencies in Abu Rahme's testimony and in his statements to the police, but mostly to no avail.

-So why didn't you say in your statement that you were abroad at the time?
-Because they did not ask me.
-Your house is near the mosque or in the center of the village?
-The mosque is in the center of the village etc.

Adar Grayevsky, an activist in the Bil'in struggle, was called to testify. She is a third year law student at Tel Aviv University. Her personality and her testimony were heartening and encouraging. She testified about the demonstrations and marches in which she took part and about her acquaintance with Abu Rahma, his wife and two daughters.

The prosecutor commented (in what he thought was mordant irony): You study law, you are familiar with the subject; you must know what the law says about entering a forbidden area.
Adar responded thus: I know what the law says regarding a violation of a Supreme Court decree! [The Supreme Court ruled two years ago that the route of the fence separates the residents of Bil'in from their lands and is therefore illegal and should be removed]

Then the trial was hastily concluded: the court had no time for the testimony of the next witness, who was waiting outside. The trial will continue next Thursday. The judge declared that the entire day would be dedicated to the conclusion of the defense.