Translation: Marganit W.
There is limited activity in the courts today. There are hearings only in one of the seven courts. It is not a Jewish holiday, nor a Muslim, Christian or Druze holiday. The Military Court is out on a trip.
Judge: Major Daniel Kfir
Military Prosecutor: Lieutenant Daniel Mauda and Lieutenant Yossi Brachia
There are 16 cases in the docket.
One of the detainees is Muhammad Jaber, ID 404436651, a man of about 50 or 60, arrested two days ago and appearing before a judge for the first time.
He is suspected of dealing drugs, but he denies the charges. His case is presented by a policeman and will be given to the prosecution for indictment when his interrogation is completed. He is represented by Atty. Abeer Mrar. She questions the police officer about the evidence on which the allegations are based.
She asks the officer: Where did you find the drugs?
Officer: In the room.
Atty.: Where exactly?
In reply, the officer draws a circle in the air saying: in the space inside the room. (A rather dubious explanation). The officer mentions Ecstasy pills and a large quantity of Hashish – too large for personal use.
The police request a 10-day detention. The attorney requests release on bail. The judge sides with neither, setting the next hearing for Monday 6.5.13.
Muhammad Samir Ali Aladam – ID 850087693, a young man from Hebron.
He was arrested at Tarqumiya Checkpoint and is accused of staying illegally inside Israel. The prosecution has divided the charges into three: falsification of an official document, entering Israel with a false document and the use of a false document. The document in question is the entry permit known to anyone who stands at the checkpoint.
The three charges, according to the prosecutor, point to a continuous and systematic activity that is fraught with endangerment. Moreover, in 2007 the detainee was convicted on illegal entry and there was a suspended sentence against him, which is no longer in effect. But this does not prevent the prosecutor from insisting that “these parameters point to recidivism and risk flight… and therefore a remand extension is to be warranted until the conclusion of the investigation…”
From personal knowledge of the conditions on the ground – not from ”parameters” – the facts can be interpreted differently: for more than five years Muhammad Aladam has been desperately trying to provide for his family (17 people including some disabled brothers) by infiltrating into Israel, with and without permit. In 2007 he was caught and given a suspended sentence, which prevented him from getting a permit. In the last five months he has been given a permit and gone through the checkpoint with the valid document.
Atty. Mundar Abu-Ahmad claims that the permit is legitimate. His client is a public servant, and since February he has been in and out of the checkpoint without being stopped. The prosecution has no proof that the permit is fake.
Now comes the shameful part: Muhammad Aladam asks to address the court. He turned to the judge and said in Hebrew: “I have been going through the checkpoint for eight months with a permit. Why would I want to harm the state? I love the state… I live here” And he reiterated his love for the state where he lives (which apparently does not return the sentiment) and told the court about the hardship his family is suffering.
In the meantime the permit is passed from hand to hand: from the prosecutor to the defense to the judge and back to the prosecutor. The attorney insists that the permit is valid, while the prosecutor claims that he has some document from the Civil Administration which claims that it is not.
The judge – whom we see for the first time today – says he wishes to examine the validity of the permit thoroughly and defers the hearing to 8.5.13. Until then, the detainee will remain in custody. He is allowed 5 phone calls at the state’s expense, including the use of cell phone. What about the 17 persons who depend on his work? This is not the concern of the court.
Muhammad Abu Awwad, ID 854535937is also accused of the same violation: entering Israel without a permit. He stayed there for 2 days.
His attorney, Munther Abu Ahmad tried to get him released on bail until his trial, because he has no prior record. In the military courts’ book a record consists only of a clash between a resident of the Territories and the military justice. No other ‘record’ is relevant.
As usual, the prosecution requests detention until the conclusion of the investigation because of “flight risk”. The defense suggests conditions that would prevent flight; that means money: 4000 shekel deposit, an Israeli guarantor who would put up 10,000 shekels, plus 7000 shekels more for something we did not get. If Muhammad can meet these conditions, he will be released on bail and the trial will resume on 5.5.13.
The prosecutor immediately asked to defer the decision by 72 hours and the judge acceded.
The hearing took place on 30.4.13. 72 hours will bring us to 3.5.13. If the next hearing is on 5.5, what’s the point of depositing money, arranging for guarantors etc?
Wael Adarah – ID 851588350.
A clergyman from Yata, in the South HebronMountains.
The charge: possession of arms and hunting without a license.
There is a revised indictment but no evidence, so the defense has reached an agreement with the prosecution. If it does not go through, Mr Adarah will be in detention for many months until this is sorted out, so he is is better off accepting the charges.
We don’t know if Mr Adarah actually hunted pigeons, but neither does the judge – there is no evidence.
Atty. Ali Aramin reached an agreement with the prosecution, and the purpose of this hearing is to obtain the judge’s approval.
Mr. Edre admitted to owning a gun and 40 bullets, and insisted that he shot 5 pigeons.
Because of “difficulty obtaining evidence” (in other words, there IS no evidence) the offered deal is: 45 days in prison, and 4000 shekel fine or alternatively 4 more months.
The defense raises the defendant’s status in the community as a clergyman.
The judge accepts the agreement, but not without lecturing the detainee on “what’s expected of a man of the cloth…. It is illegal… the gun can fall into the wrong hands… (No, he does not mean the settlers). Still, the judge allows him 5 phone calls, including the use of cell phone at the state’s account.
Ahmad Da’ejna – ID 851842443
Elias Da’ejna – ID 851101873
Mussa Da’ejna – ID 956952402
Kassem Da’ejna - ID 942503632
Defense: Munther Abu Ahmad
The defendants are three brothers and a cousin, shepherds from Yatta. Their flock is in the village of Jinba, near Yatta. They drive there in a Mitsubishi – an Israeli vehicle – without a license. We reported about this state of affairs in the past, so we’ll recap briefly:
Palestinians buy used cars from Israelis very cheaply. The PA forbids this practice: it gives licenses, plates and insurance only to new cars. Thus, Palestinians drive in the Territories without licenses and without insurance.
To reach Jinba from Yatta, the shortest way – by 15 km - is through Israeli territory. The prosecution claims that they have done this routinely (hence the recidivism) In the past, the police and the army did not object. However, now the policy has changed, and they were stopped at Meitar Checkpoint at the entrance to Israel. They are charged with two violations: driving an unregistered vehicle and violating a ‘closed area’ injunction.
The driver, Kassem Da’ejna, denies the allegations, claiming he knows the area well and they were not driving in Israeli territory.
The prosecutor reiterates the danger they posed, their flight risk and the recidivism, requesting detention until the conclusion of the investigation.
The defense, citing Kassem’s denial, requests release on bail.
The judge determined that the defendants did not try to infiltrate Israel; they just wanted to take a 15 km shortcut. He said: “The circumstances of the case imply no endangerment; the flight risk can be countered by appropriate release terms; each detainee will pay 2000 shekels, plus 3000 personal guarantee, plus 5000 guarantee by an Israeli citizen. Since they are related, the payment should be made jointly. But the state of Israel also allowed each of them 3 phone calls, including a cell phone, at the state’s expense.
The prosecutor requested a 72-hour delay, but the judge allowed only 48 hours, until noon the next day.
Translation: Marganit Weinberger
Judge: Eran Laufman
Defense: Firas Sabah, Judd Kadmani
There are 4 cases in the docket, two of them of detainees “barred from meeting with an attorney”. On a third case there is a gag order.
Sami Muhammad Suleiman Ata – ID 854408564
Defense: Atty. Firas SAbah
There is an agreement between the sides: an 8-day remand and transfer of the case to the prosecution.
Yussuf Muhammad Hussni Tahaa – ID 906440128
The detainee is barred from seeing his attorney, Firas Sabah.
Tahaa has been in detention since 14.4.13 and is barred from meeting his attorney until 2.5.13.
The police investigator requests a 15-day remand extension. This is the second remand extension.
Tahaa is suspected of military activity and providing service to an unlawful organization.
With the detainee out of the court, the defense interrogates the police investigator. He sums up: the suspect, who apparently cooperated with the interrogator, links himself to the charges against him. He provided two statements to the police. The defense sees no reason for such a long remand. True, the investigation is complex, but the suspect does not deny the allegations. He has been barred from seeing an attorney for many days.
At this point we were asked to leave the court so that the suspect could be admitted for his remand extension hearing.
Justice Laufman is not familiar with the preliminary injunction or the Supreme Court recommending that we should be allowed to be present during the hearing. We show him the document and he examines it. The investigator tries to move for a closed-door hearing, but the judge does not accede. He adds our names to the protocol and gives us permission to attend the hearing without the attorney’s presence.
The suspect was admitted into the court and the judge updated him about what had transpired earlier when the attorney represented him. The judge asked him if he was feeling well. When he said yes, the judge handed down his decision:
9 days remand extension to complete the investigation.
Marwan Muhammad Abed Issa – ID 852321066– Barred from meeting his attorney.
Defense: Judd Kadmani
The detainee is suspected of planting an explosive charge and engaging in other military activity against security forces in his area. He has been in detention since 12.4.13 and “barred” until midnight today. The investigator requests an 18-day extension.
The detainee was born in 1991. He was previously detained in 2009.
Atty. Kadmani moves for reduced detention: the detainee has been interrogated more than 30 times since his arrest, under harsh conditions, including solitary confinement. Since he is barred from seeing an attorney, he was deprived of legal counsel for the entire period of the investigation.
As per Justice Laufman’s earlier ruling, we stayed in the remand extension court, but this time the investigator decided to hold the hearing behind closed doors. He asked us to leave the court while he explained to the judge the need for closed doors.
We left. The investigator spoke with the judge, apparently convincing him, so we stayed outside when the detainee met with the judge and with the police investigator.
The judge’s decision: 14-day remand extension to conclude the investigation.
A detainee under gag order
This was a continuation of a hearing from 22.4.13 [See report] where Justice Fleischman turned down a request for closed doors, but maintained a “gag order”, which obtained today as well.
The man has been under interrogation for 45 days. The investigator request an additional 8 days remand. This is the sixth remand extension.
The judge’s decision: 4 more days.
Translation: Marganit W.
Today is the last day of the Druze Holiday Nabi Shuayeb and the absence of Druze soldiers at Ofer is very marked. There were few hearings, all taking place in one Courtroom.
At the entrance a soldier informed me that I could not get in: I need a special permit because “this is a secured military court.” At that point I was not aware of the Druze holiday, so I phone Hamdan [Public Relations Officer], who is also Druze. He was at home (I could here children in the background), but he answered right away and took care of the problem.
All hearings took place in Courtroom 1
presiding Justice Lieut – Col. Menahem Lieberman [head of the Judea court] .
As always, it was hard to follow all the details of each case. I hoped to get the missing information from the protocols, but the interpreter today was a reserve duty soldier who did not know about the option of supplying me with protocols. He did not hear my request, and during the break I found out that the protocols would be available only after the break.
Those who do not know that the military courts were instituted after the conquest of the West Bank by dint of military edict and are part and parcel of the system by which the state of Israel, the occupier, controls the Palestinian population, could perhaps infer from the judge’s conduct that the courts are working just fine.
The judge reprimanded one attorney for not wearing a robe and another, who wore a robe, but not a white shirt and black tie.
His honor perused every relevant part of the indictment. One case involved a young man from Jahalin. He was brought in by a policeman who then proceeded to serve as prosecutor. The latter informed the court that the young man’s father had told him during the interrogation that the family could not afford a lawyer.
The judge decided on a 6-day remand extension – not 8, as the police had requested – but he was not at all perturbed by the fact that there was no defense attorney.
In another case the judge told the prosecutor to amend the indictment [the charge was membership in an unlawful organization] because the incriminator – who was also the recruiter, admitted that the defendant, who denied the allegations, was telling the truth and had refused to join the organization.
And yet, despite the judge’s displeasure with the prosecution’s performance in several of the cases, it was never suggested that until the prosecution checks the facts and prepares a more acceptable case, the defendant could be sent home.
Translation: Marganit W.
Judge: Shmuel Fleischman
Investigator: Moshe Levi
Defense: Atty. Mahmoud Hassan
There is only one case in the docket.
Before Justice Fleischman’s arrival, the investigator told us that the hearing would be closed to the public.
When the judge and the defense came into the remand extensions hall, the investigator stated that it had been decided to hold the hearing behind closed doors and that a gag order had been issued. He handed the order to the attorney.
Justice Fleischman said he would make a decision after reading the file.
The defense objected: this is the fifth remand extension - in the previous hearings there was no request for closed doors. Only one of the earlier hearings was conducted behind closed doors.
Having read the file, Justice Fleischman said, “One of the remand hearings was behind closed doors. The reason for this: to prevent the detainee from meeting his family. None of the other hearings was behind closed doors. The family met the detainee at the Appellate Court.”
Justice Fleischman then ordered an open hearing, but maintained the gag order on publicizing the proceedings. He told the defense that conducting an open hearing means that the police investigator would not be able to answer his questions freely.
Thus, our report of the fifth remand extension is given in general terms only.
The detainee has been under interrogation for forty days, in solitary confinement. Apparently, he is not very cooperative, therefore the interrogations may continue.
The interrogator requested a 15-day remand extension. The Appellate Court does not recommend detentions of longer than 8 days.
Following the defense’s summation the judge handed down his decision: 12 days.
Next hearing is set for 2.5.13.
Translation: Marganit W.
As you all know, we cover only a minute number of hearings of the military courts and only a tiny fraction of the proceedings are revealed to us. And yet, over the last six years, we have noted a few salient characteristics of the conduct and the activity of the arm of the occupation known as the “Military Court”. Today, for example, the hearings were a veritable ‘conveyor belt’; all the detainees in the cases we witnessed were arrested after being incriminated by others, and the charges were violations committed in the last few days as well as the last few months or even years.
A joint docket of Courtrooms 1 and 2 included 65 names of “Days Detainees” brought in for remand extensions. Some were minors (reportedly kids under 12 years old - which is the age of criminal culpability – whose hearings we did not attend). Those detainees were brought before the judge for the first time since their arrest.
In Courtroom 3 a ‘reserves duty’ judge (probably due to the holiday) named Wolf presided.
Two defendants were charged with drug dealing. They were represented by two attorneys: Abu Ahmad and Abir Merar. The discussion was about the quality and quantity of the pills purchased and hidden (it was alleged) in the underwear of one of them, and discovered at the checkpoint. It was not clear to the judge, the prosecutor and the defense if the pills in question were Viagra or Ecstasy. The only thing that was clear was that the two were detained “until the conclusion of the proceedings”.
Since we did not attend the entire sessions we are not sure why this case was processed in a military court.
Judge: Lieut.-Col. Shmuel Kadmani
Prosecutor: Capt. Avishai Kaplan
Waspi Nafez Oda Zeita,ID 949959977 –Case 2397/13
Accused of carrying a weapon in the year 2011.
Waspi accepts the charges and Atty. Haled Alaraj reaches a plea bargain with the prosecution. The judge accepts it and pronounces his decision:
31 days in prison from the day of arrest, 3 months suspended sentence for 3 years (to ensure that he does not repeat the offense or any other offense relating to arms possession), a 7000 shekel fine or 7 months incarceration.
The agreement (approved by the judge without hesitation) states that Waspi has no prior conviction; for a brief period he held a gun belonging to the Palestinian Authority, making no use of it. He showed the gun to someone. Admission of guilt was a condition for obtaining a plea bargain, but the charge lacked sufficient evidence to convict!
It is a vain hope that one of these days a judge will pause to consider one of these hundreds of plea-bargains and determine that it is a trumped up arrest. There is no such term as “trumped up arrest” in the lexicon of the military courts.
Ahmad Salim Taher Ziud,ID 993177864 –Case 2439/13
Ziud was arrested on Friday at a Checkpoint.
The prosecution requests detention until the conclusion of the investigation. The defendant states that a checkpoint policeman had told him he did not need a check-up because he is over 55. When he entered the checkpoint he was arrested. Atty Abu Yakoub requests a 6-day postponement to reach an agreement with the prosecution. The judge approves (until 2.4.13).
Bahaa Issa Muhamad Bashar,ID 854839628 –Case 2392/13
The detainee, 18 years old, is accused of throwing rocks at security forces, together with 20 other people. He was implicated by three soldiers who were on the spot. The prosecution requests detention until the conclusion of the investigation, invoking endangerment and the fact that another participant in the incident was detained by the court until the conclusion of the investigation.
Bahaa rejects the allegations. He claims not to know why he is detained.
His attorney, Nasser Nubani, explains that Bahaa was on his way home from work when he encountered a demonstration near his home. He was present there without throwing any stones, he has no prior convictions, and the soldiers’ testimony is prima facie evidence.
The judge decides to detain him until the conclusion of the investigation.
Arraignment date set for 2.4.13.
Judge: Major Avri Einhorn
Two plain cloth investigators bring in the suspect, Alaa Muhammad Ahsa Hadr, ID 402195853 for remand extension.
Alaa, 16 years old, has already been detained for 4 days but has not been interrogated.
The charge is throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails and involvement in shooting.
The investigators request 15 days remand.
Atty. Munther Abu Ahmad states that Alaa is a minor and that until his court appearance he has not been given a reason for his detention. The investigators’ answers reveal that the charges are based on incriminations, some by other detainees. The charges refer to incidents in the recent as well as in the distant past that took place at different locations on Route 443 as well as in his village. The defense moves for reduced detention and asks for judicial supervision of the investigators.
The judge orders 15 days remand (until 7.4.13). At the defense’ request the judge orders the detainee held in the court compound until 15:00 to allow him to appeal the court’s remand decision.
Translation: Marganit W.
Judge: Lieut.-Col. Menashe Sachnish
Police Investigator: Omri Awwida
Defense: Judd Kadmani, Firas Sabah
We attended the hearings of four detainees and one detainee who was not included in the police’s list but came from the Minorities Department (!) [GSS]
1. Zouhib Ahmad Muhammad Jidan – ID 859828964
2. Azz Aladin Haled Abed – ID 854341617
3. Adel Muhammad Ali Halil – ID 853998003
4. Malek Ibrahim Mahdi Abu Halifa
For the first three detainees there was an agreement between the defense and the police. As for the fourth detainee, the police requested a 15-day remand extension, yet the defense was able to reduce it to 7 days. The routine of plea bargains was disrupted only by an unusual question the judge addressed to the detainee: “Are you feeling well today?” Nobody answered in the negative, so they must all have been feeling fine.
As for the detainee from the Minorities Department, we don’t have any details about him. The case must be complicated. He had been detained in 2002/2003. Before his present detention, he was under administrative detention for a year. This time around he was interrogated for many hours and did not cooperate with the investigators. They wanted to know, among others, if he is a member of the Popular Front. In addition, he is suspected of serious violations.
The Investigator requested 15-day remand extension; the defense was able to reduce it to 7 days.
Translation: Marganit W.
Judge: Major Etty Adar
Prosecutor: Lieut. Dvir Wiesel
There were 27 cases in the docket. We sat in the court for about two hours. 11 defendants were brought in groups of four. Their hands were free but their feet were chained. Members of the families arrived and the detainees conducted some sort of dialogue with their loved ones. The only one who was not happy was the guard from the prison authority whose nap was interrupted. The judge was quite tolerant of the commotion.
Ahmad Samih Ahmad Hatab,ID 403816022– Case 2070/12
Ahmad is accused of “shooting at a person”.
Today is a memorandum hearing. The defense is Atty. Ismail Tawil.
The case opened a year ago and the judge is anxious to conclude it. “I have to pronounce a sentence,” she pleads with the defense. (The law in Israel stipulates that a legal procedure has to conclude within 9 months. Until recently, in military courts, it was two years, but this must have changed recently).
There is no indication what has happened during the year that the defendant was in jail.
An evidentiary hearing was set for 3.4.13 and for witnesses’ testimony for 10.4.13
Leit Bassem Mustafa Alksabra, ID 414843227 –Case 4840/12
Accused of membership and activity in the Popular Front [for the Liberation of Palestine], from 2011 until his arrest (?)
During this period he put posters on walls, carried flags and attended meetings of an unlawful organization.
Atty. Firas Sabah was absent today and his replacement, Mahmoud Hassan, requests a postponement.
Yusuf Salah Yusuf Zaharan,ID 852905843 –Case 2649/12
A concluding hearing was set for today.
Yusuf is a young man, not a minor. He’s been in prison for many months and so far has not confessed (to the charge of “possessing and trading in combat materiel”). Today the sides have reached an agreement: the prosecution will amend the indictment and the defendant will accept the charges.
Atty. Haled Alaraj is replaced today by his relative Ibrahim Alaraj, who leaves from time to time to consult his “boss” who is busy in another courtroom and occasionally pops in to say a word to the defendant or the family and even argues for a moment before the court.
The judge enumerates the amended charges: the defendant entered Israel on various occasions during 2011; at the end of 2011 he purchased an improvised hunting rifle and 5 bullets, which he used for hunting. At the beginning of 2012 he purchased 24 bullets in Nabi Saleh. Yusuf accepts the charges. The prosecutor asks that the court forfeit the rifle. The defense agrees.
The punishment the court meted took into consideration Yusuf’s clean record, his admission, his young age and the fact that the rifle was improvised.
Sentence: 13 months in prison; 2 months suspended sentence for 5 years and a 2000 shekel fine.
Ibrahim and Haled Alaraj represented 8 defendants in today’s session. Most were from Al-Aroub, arrested during 2012. At the defense’ request 7 hearings were postponed to later dates.
4 of them were the following:
Abed Alhakim Muhammad Awad Tamimi,ID 936508258 –Case 1174/13
Charge: throwing objects
Deferred to tomorrow, 4.3.13
Nader Haled Slame Gandi – ID 854466653 – Case No. 4775/12
Charge: manufacturing and throwing an incendiary object
Deferred to 20.3.13
Muhammad Adnan Said Asa’is,ID 85481568-Case 4778/12
Charge: manufacturing and throwing an incendiary object
Deferred to 3.4.13
Omar Muhammad Aassi Shehade,ID 858645872-Case 4777/12
Charge: Manufacturing and throwing an incendiary object.
Omar Shehade objects. He wants the trial concluded today, not postponed. Haled Alaraj is summoned to tackle his wayward client. After a short conference with Omar, Atty Alaraj hands the judge his resignation. The judge tries to reason with the defendant: “I have not examined the evidence yet, but according to the charge sheet, we cannot finish the procedure today. If you confess to the charges, we can finish, but if you don’t accept all the charges, we need to summon witnesses in order to pass a verdict… I want to protect you, so I will give you 5 minutes to confer with your attorney…” She also extols the attorney’s experience and his ability to help the defendant.
In order to enable negotiations to take place, the hearing was postponed to 10.4.13.
I found the judge’s active intervention in client-attorney relations puzzling. During the entire morning session she made no comment on the conduct of the two attorneys (working in tandem) representing most of the defendants, even though there was a tacit rivalry between the attorneys in court as to who would represent one of the defendants whose attorney was absent today.
Judge: Lieut. Col. Shmuel Kedar
This judge has 46 cases, all concerning remand extensions. We attended a hearing in the case of two Wallaje residents caught in Israeli territory and detained since Thursday night (three days ago). When arrested they had no permits to stay within Israel.
Attty. Abir Mrar handled their case and she was present in court. But as of today Atty. Ali Sahar represents them. He explains that as residents of Wallaje, they possess permits to stay in Israel that are called “expulsion prevention documents”. Those papers had been deposited at Ofer Prison, and he offered to retrieve them and present them to the court today, so that his clients could be released.
Translation: Marganit W.
According to the lists in the four courtrooms operating today (apart from Courtroom 7 where confidential trials of administrative detainees took place that we were not allow to attend) 118 defendants were supposed to appear before the court in the space of 6-7 hours. Only a few would be judged by a panel of judges, most would face a single judge. This is how the court in Ofer operates five days a week.
The charges are varied. According to the dockets of 3 of the courts (in courtroom 5, presided by Justice Shmuel Kedar, the charges are not specified) about forty percent of the charges are in two categories, “throwing objects” and “producing and throwing an incendiary object”. About 25 percent of the charges are for “membership, activity, providing services and holding a position”. The rest are: 2 for dealing drugs and 9 for illegal stay in Israel.
These are random data, but they conform to other sources, mostly the media, reporting on “events” and the army’s conduct in the occupied territories: the Palestinians’ resistance in the villages and in the neighborhood around Jerusalem on the one hand, and the security forces’ actions and display of force in an attempt to quell the protests and intensify the occupation on the other.
Judge: Major Etty Adar
There are 29 cases in the docket. Three of the four detainees on the bench were taken out after a few minutes without any mention of the charges against them. It turned out that their attorney had not arrived (the judge must have assumed that he was taking part in the attorney’s strike). The defendant probably did not know who the attorney was or even if he had been assigned one. The judge set dates for the hearing in March, three weeks from today.
The fourth detainee was
Ali Ahmad Abed Alhamid, Ahalil, ID 850622028 - Case 1312/13
Defense: Atty. Haled Alaraj
The judge assumed that the defense was from “the Prisoners Association”. Even though the attorney was not present in court, she proceeded with the hearing. She read Ahmad the 9 counts of the indictment, all referring to events in his past: from conspiracy to throwing an incendiary object in 2007, through manufacturing a fire bomb in 2011, to throwing rocks from a distance of 100 meters at security forces during Operation Pillar of Cloud. In the last incident – the judge remarked – the army reacted by throwing gas grenades. I did not hear the judge ask the defendant if he accepted the charges. In any event, it was more like an interrogation than a trial. There was no defense attorney present and no family members in the court.
The judge asked the defendant if he had anything to say. Ahmad asked permission to use the phone to call his parents so they could get him a lawyer.
The trial was set for 23.3.13.
Judge: Sgt.-Major Sharon Rivlin-Ahai
Prosecutor: Lieut. Agranash Agniahu
Atty. Iyad Misk represents some of the underage detainees on behalf of DCI [Defense for Children International].
Muhanned Marshag Alzaakik, ID403898463 – Case 1079/13
The detainee is 14 years old (looks like 7). He is accused of throwing objects.
Atty. Misak requests a postponement due to the unusual circumstances of the case. It turns out that in the recent past Muhanned had been convicted and there is a suspended sentence in effect. When it is activated, he would be transferred to another prison. The family prefers to delay the court’s decision so he can stay at Ofer. Apparently, the conditions there are better.
Mahmoud Haled Mahmoud Ganimat, ID855077509 - Case 4557/12
Defense: Atty. Abu Omar
Mahmoud is 24 years old. He was arrested on 31.10.12 when a knife he had in his pocket was detected by the scanner at the Cave of the Fathers [in Hebron]. He is accused of an attempted homicide and intent to kill. He does not accept the charges and an evidentiary trial in progress. The defense claims that the evidence is inconclusive and the fact that he did not try to hide the knife raises doubt about his intent.
An agreement between the sides is presented to the judge.
Mahmoud agrees to accept a revised indictment that includes one charge: an attempt to attack a soldier.
The judge accepts the agreement. Her decision: 19 months in prison: 12 months suspended sentence for 4 years and 2000 shekel fine or 2 months in prison.
Judge: Lieut.-Col. Menahem Lieberman
Oudai Raed Ali Nasser,ID 853887156 -Case 2337/12 -a resident of Dir Al Kadis
The violations he is charged with were committed during different events and over years: throwing Molotov cocktails in 2008 while still a minor; rock throwing on two occasions in 2011. Oudai accepts the charges, and his attorney, Jamil Al Hatib, joins the prosecution in reaching a plea bargain, which is later accepted by the judge.
Decision: 12 months + one day in jail; 6 months suspended sentence for 4 (?) years; 4000 shekel fine or conversely 4 months in jail.
Judge: Lieut.-Col. Shmuel Kedar
All the cases involved remand extensions.
Caught while on a hunting expedition:
The first 4 hearings involved a group of 4 who were caught while hunting. They are charged, among others, with possession of arms.
Fares Jafaraa, ID902923333 – Case 1879/13
Defense: Atty. Ibrahim Nubani
Charge: Possession of combat materiel, carrying weapons, possession of military equipment, arms trading: he bought a hunting rifle for 2000 shekels.
Prosecution: The defendant was well aware of the severity of his acts.
She requests remand extension until the conclusion of the proceedings, due to the severity and the danger involved in the charges.
Defense: Does not contest the evidence, but contests the danger involved and the cause of arrest. The defendant did indeed buy the rifle, but not for trading purposes. The rifle belongs to him and was purchased only for the purpose of hunting. There is no indication of any other intent. The rifle was in his possession for 6 or 8 weeks.
The defense cites a decision by Supreme Court Justice Bach, which catalogues reasons for arrest according to severity: first category: membership in an organization and possession of arms derived from that membership, or using weapons to commit a crime. In this category detention in prison is mandatory. The second category: possession of weapons as a souvenir or for self-defense, or possession of a hunting rifle for the purpose of hunting. In this category an alternative to prison can be considered. This catalogue, the attorney maintained, has been the basis for courts’ decisions to date, even though the Supreme Court decision was handed down many years ago.
This case falls into the second category. In addition, the defendant has no prior record; he is married and has children. He is not a flight risk. The defense will accept any alternative to imprisonment, including third party guarantee. In addition, the attorney of the other hunting partners will later cite precedents, and the defense requests the court to consider these precedents.
The prosecutor retorts that this case involves “The Area” (i.e., not Israel, where Justice Bach’s ruling applies). The defendant was aware of the consequences of his acts. Had he not been arrested, who knows what the weapon could have been used for. At any rate, he had no permit for the rifle.
Judge: Who grants such permits?
Prosecutor: I don’t know (this was the first of several instances this morning where the prosecutor did not prove her claim).
Decision: The court is bound by a decision of the Military Court of Appeals that stipulates that possession of a hunting rifle constitute a risk that cannot be substituted by an alternative to imprisonment. Thus, Justice Bach’s decision cannot serve as basis for decision in this case. A decision regarding the Area is different than a decision regarding Israel, because of events that take place in the Area. Moreover, the defendant possessed stolen army property (two sleeping bags were found in the vehicle). The judge orders remand extension until the conclusion of the proceedings.
Arraignment session set for 19.3.13.
Muhanned Jafaraa, ID910917681 - Case 1880/13
Abed Alsalam Uadi, ID853610947 - Case 1881/13
Defense: Shahdi Jaber (private attorney – this is his first court appearance in the Military Court.)
It was decided that the two cases would be heard together, since the defendants collaborated in the alleged crime and its circumstances.
Charge: possession of arms.
Prosecutor: Muhaened tried to conceal the weapon in a car when caught by the police, which proves that the defendants knew they were committing a violation. Thus, the risk they pose does not warrant an alternative to detention in prison.
Defense: The defendants do not contest the facts of the charge, but there is no ground for imprisonment. They can be released under limiting conditions and not pose a risk. The court should distinguish between the defendants and the others who took part in the hunting trip: in his clients’ case there is a single violation. The Appellate Court distinguishes between someone who possesses a weapon for a short time and someone who possesses weapons and ammunition – “multiple weapons”.
The defendants joined the hunting trip, and their possession of the weapon was negligible. They held it for a short time. During the interrogation they were not asked about awareness of arm possession. They realized there were weapons only when they reached the hunting ground. Both defendants have ‘a clean record’.
The defense cites prior decisions stating that arms possession is no ground for imprisonment, except in special cases. This case should end in their release under limiting conditions. They are not flight risks. Punishment for such violations is not strict. In addition, the father of one of the defendants is in court and offered to vouch for them.
The judge points out that there is no indication which one of the two used the gun.
The prosecutor reiterates that Muhanned tried to hide the gun when they were caught.
Atty. Nubani points out that this behavior falls under the category of self-defense.
Decision: There is a distinction between these two defendants and Fares Jafaraa, since their participation in the hunting trip was limited: one shot and possession of arms for a short time. Thus, they can be released on limiting conditions, provided they post a 4000 shekel each as bond and provide a third party guarantee (by a person with an Israeli ID or entry permit into Israel) for each of them separately.
Arraignment hearing set for 19.3.13
Implementation of the decision is delayed by 29 hours, until 16:00 the next day. The prosecution has to inform the defense by 10:00 tomorrow if it intends to appeal.
Hassan Kahala, ID 948357116 – Case 1882/13
Defense: Atty. Ibrahim Nubani
Charge: driving a disqualified vehicle without a driver’s license. A hunting rifle was found in the car.
Prosecutor: Driving without a registration license and a driver’s license endangers passersby. There is also the charge of possession of arms. Request: remand extension until the conclusion of the proceedings.
Atty. Nubani moves to dismiss the violation of driving without a driver’s license. He presents a valid license. During his interrogation, the defendant was not asked about a driver’s license (another failure of the prosecutor).
Decision: In view of the fact that the defendant does possess a valid driver’s license, there is no ground for endangerment and an alternative to imprisonment can be mandated. He has to post a 5000-shekel bail and a person with an Israeli ID or entry permit into Israel must vouch for him (it can be the same person vouching for the other defendants).
Implementation of the decision is delayed by 29 hours, until 16:00 tomorrow. The prosecution has to inform the defense of its decision to appeal by 10:00 tomorrow.
Fadi Aljaradat, Id 999825672 - Case 1863/13
Defense: Atty. Shadfan (arguing in Arabic).
Charge: carrying, possessing and manufacturing arms.
Prosecution: remand extension until the conclusion of the proceedings. Moves to deny alternative to imprisonment by dint of endangerment.
The defendant does not accept the charges. In 2007 he bought a gun from a Hebron resident, but when he realized it was defective, he returned it after 2 hours. He admitted as much in his interrogation, but nothing else. The investigator says that the authorities have information about him, which means that there is no concrete evidence, just some reports. Prosecution Witness No. 2 testified that the defendant owns a weapon of the type ‘U.C’, which does not exist. Had the prosecution caught him with the weapon, they would have taken photos of it and put it in the file, but this did not happen.
The indictment is based on testimony by prosecution witnesses 3 and 4, but their testimonies are not found in the file. The Prosecutor went out to look for the testimony (failure No. 3), while the court waited. Twenty minutes later, another prosecutor walked in: she is responsible for the testimonies in the file. The testimony of Witnesses 3 and 4 have not been found.
One witness reported that during a procession another witness carried a weapon, and he is the one who incriminated the defendant.
(At this point I could no longer follow the sequence of the witnesses).
Decision: According to other testimonies, the defendant possessed an Uzi. The only time ‘U.C.’ was mentioned, must have been a slip of the pen. We are talking here about real weapons, capable of killing. This proves that the defendant poses risk and cannot therefore be released. Thus, remand extension is warranted.
Arraignment session is set for 19.3.13
Translation: Marganit W.
Judge: Avry Einhorn
Police Investigator: Hader Mustafa
Defense: Judd Kadmani, Tarek Bargout
There are 4 cases in the docket.
All of them concluded with 8 days of remand extension, agreed upon by the sides.
In the middle of the hearing a detainee was brought in who was not included in today’s docket. He was accompanied by the investigator and was represented by the two attorneys.
The hearing of this case caused confusion and errors in the names that appear in the protocols.
The discussion between the investigator and the defense was about an agreement between the sides. They were conducted in Arabic without translation. Consequently, we could not follow the discussion. As for the judge, we’re not sure if he speaks Arabic.
Detainees were brought in and out and we were unable to figure out what the charges were. We only know that they were remanded in custody for 8 more days for further interrogations.
Muhammad Jihad Ali Ahmad – ID 860035559
The defense conveyed the detainee’s complaint to the judge; the investigator confirmed that the account is included in the confidential file. For three days the detainee was confined to a chair, in handcuffs. His food was brought to him there and he was allowed to sleep only one or two hours a day.
His honor wondered how such a thing could happen. He wrote in the protocol that an 8- day remand was agreed upon by the sides.
After the hearing we asked the attorney what was the charge in this case.
The answer: he had information about an event and he did not report it. “He posed risk to security in the region” the attorney concluded.
The detainee was led out of the court. Then, the investigator, a law-abiding citizen, asked the judge if he wanted to conduct the hearing behind closed doors. The detainee, he explained, is 17,5 years old, so according to the law he is a minor.
We were totally surprised by this request and remarked, that we had in the past attended many hearings of youngsters, 14 and 15 years old and it never occurred to anyone….
The judge said that he had no problem with our presence in the court. The detainee is almost 18 years old, so we could stay. The defense attorneys had not problem with our presence either.
Nobody had any problem of any kind during the entire hearing. We did not ask the detainees if THEY had any problems, so maybe somebody did have a problem.
Translation: Marganit W.
Judge: Avri Einhorn
Police Intvestigator: Omri Awida
Defense: Firas Sabah
There were 8 cases in the docket – four of them of detainees barred from conferring with their attorney. In three cases plea bargains had been negotiated between the sides.
Raafan Mahmoud Mussa Hayan – ID 921045200
Charge: planning and participating in a terrorist attack against the settlement of Migdal Oz, throwing incendiary bottles and membership in “Shuhada Al-Aksa”.
The detainee has been barred from meeting his attorney until today, 11.2.13 at 23:59.
The police investigator requested 15-day remand extension to complete the investigation.
The defense objected to the remand extension. Even though this is the first extension in this case, the defendant has been cooperative, he made a statement to the police, and “according to my colleague’s statement” he ties himself to the allegations.
Roni and I decided not to show the judge the document that recommends allowing us, representatives of the public, to remain in the courtroom while the defense has to leave (to prevent contact with the defendant): this judge has already voiced his opinion of the High Court of Justice’s recommendation [see report from 14.1.13]. When the Investigator saw that we were not leaving, he immediately declared a “closed doors hearing” – rather too easily, we thought. The judge accepted this declaration without hesitation, and we saw no point in repeating the futile ritual. We left the courtroom, the detainee was led in and the judge declared a 15-day remand extension.
Mahmoud Daoud Haled Alhabal – ID 853934909
Charge: membership and activity in Hamas.
The Police Investigator requested 11-day remand extension.
Atty. Sabah represented the detainee, instead of Atty. Quasme.
The Investigator stated that his unit would try to complete the interrogation as quickly as possible and transfer the case to the prosecution. There would not be another extension.
The defense objected to the police request. The detainee has already been interrogated for a long time without much progress. He denies the allegations and has given a statement to the police on 7.2.12.
The charges are based on incriminations.
The judge’s decision: After having examined the file and the reports, he decides on an 8- day remand extension. If necessary, there will be another extension later.
Nur Aladin Abed Al-Rahman Ibrahim Alaeruri – ID 852459551
Imad Wajia Abe Al-Jawad Salah – ID 850292756
Both detainees are barred from seeing an attorney. They are both charged with membership and military activity in Hamas, as well as with endangering security in the region.
The police requested 15-day remand extension to complete the investigation.
From the defense’s questions we gather that they are suspected of planning and initiating the alleged violation.
The detainees were interrogated face to face, but not by the police.
The defense asked to cut short the period of interrogations.
We left the court and the Russian Compound.