Translation: Marganit W.
When Tamar and I arrived this morning, hearings were conducted only in Justice Major Meir Vigisser’s court. Most cases involved people caught staying illegally in Israel and rock throwers.
Two minors were brought in, one was from Al-Aroub; as for the other case, after some discussion between the judge and the defense, it was decided to hold it behind closed doors.
We left the court and returned later to hear the case of the other minor and here is our report:
Muhammad Abed Al-Wahab Halek,ID 41169827–Case 2569/13
Prosecutor: Lieut. Dvir Wiesel
Defense: Atty. Mahmoud Hassan
Aya Kaniuk and Tamar Goldschmidt attended an earlier hearing in this case on 7.4.13.
I recommend reading their report in their mahsanmilim site. They give a link to an Adameer/DCI report of Muhammad’s case, which is typical of thousands other cases of young boys: the army raids their house in the middle of the night, arrests them, interrogates them without the presence of a special youth investigator, pressures them to incriminate their friends etc.
Muhammad Halek was born in 1998 with a heart defect. Normally, he carries a list of his medications, but he did not have it on him when he was kidnapped from bed in the middle of the night. An earlier order by a judge to have him checked by a doctor had not been carried out. You could clearly see the broken bridge on his teeth, and Atty. Hassan insisted that the judge see it too. In reply to the attorney’s questions, the boy reported being beaten (but that cannot be proved).
The judge includes in his decision an order to give a protocol of the hearing to the court authority with a view to opening an investigation.
We have no doubt that a thorough investigation will follow, the truth will come out and the culprits will be punished.
In the attached protocol [in Hebrew] you can read the attorney’s expert explanation on how youth interrogations are conducted. He listens carefully to the recordings and hears also what the investigators do not want us to hear.
The hearing will resume on Wed. 17.4.13, possibly with a plea bargain.
It is hard to describe Muhammad’s beaming face when he heard that he might sit “only” a month in jail.
Outside the court we spoke to Muhammad’s father. His family immigrated to the US many years ago. Today he is a businessman having returned to Palestine a while ago. However, he has lost his ID card and needs to renew his resident permit every three months. One can imagine the hardship facing a man whose family lives in Palestine while he has no guarantee that his visa will be extended and he will be able to live with his family.
Translation: Marganit W.
Justice Major Amir Dahan’s Court
Prosecutor: Ashhar Erez
Zuheer Omar Muhammad Harub,ID 52890359 -Case 1556/13 -born in 1989.
Defense: Atty. Ilya Teodory
Charge: In Jan. 2013, a month before his arrest, the defendant gave his photo and some money to someone (whose name I was unable to hear) in order to obtain a fake ID. On 1.2.13 he showed up at Az-Zaayem Checkpoint and presented the fake ID in order to enter Israeli illegally. He is accused of impersonation and of violation of the “enclosed area ordnance”. He also has a prior record from 2011 for the same felony (Case 5263/11).
The defendant admits the charges. He tells the court that he did it to obtain work. He is not married but his family depends on his earnings. There is no work in the Westbank and he just wants to earn a living.
The court accepted the plea bargain. The defendant was convicted based on his admission. “Although the court understands his motive, he needs to be prevented from repeating the offense.”
Sentence: two and a half months in prison, plus a month and a half resulting from an earlier suspended sentence, in all 4 months. Plus 3 months suspended sentence for three years from the day of arrest and a 500-shekel fine or two weeks in jail.
Hamza Abed Al-Rahim Muhammad Talgy,ID 411482458 - Case 1986/13
Defense: Atty. Muhammad Shdafan
The case was presented to the court after a delay in which the prosecution went looking for the file.
Charge: On 24.2.2013 he threw rocks at security forces in the village of Sa’ir.
The defendant accepts the charge.
The prosecutor cites a criminal record. Judge: He has a “considerable [criminal] past”.
Defense: The defendant is an adult now, married with a daughter. He wants to settle down and asks the court to accept a plea bargain: 5 months prison time and a 2000-shekel fine, plus suspended sentence to be determined by the court.
Judge: Having examined the agreement and in view of the defendant’s record, I see no reason to accept the plea bargain right away. I deem the agreement too lenient and in need of revision. The sides may submit an argument justifying the agreement by 14.4.13 at 12:30. Sentence will be handed down on 17.4.13 at 15:00.
Observers’ note: This is the first time we encounter a rejection by the court of a plea bargain reached by both sides and a demand that they present the court with a decision that would justify it.
Muhammad Shafiq Abed Al-Rahman Hamail,ID 410742316–Case 4346/12
Defense: Atty. Ibrahim Al-Araj
Charge: manufacturing and throwing an incendiary object.
The defense requests a postponement to reach an agreement with the prosecution. In a previous hearing it was concluded that if the sides could not reach a settlement, additional evidence would be adduced.
By a procedural arrangement, testimony by Officer Zuhir Sharef Malki (Prosecution Witness No. 3) will be presented: he identified the defendant among 8 photos as the perpetrator in this case.
The judge explains to the defendant that such a submission, where the witness is absent, will be accepted by the court as if the witness were testifying before the judge. There is no dispute regarding the identification. After consulting with the attorney, the defendant agrees.
The case was referred to ‘internal memorandum’ on 17.4.13 when the sides will report if they have reached an agreement.
In late morning I sat briefly in two courtrooms and observed 5 hearings. All had to do with rock throwing and reflected various reactions by the court.
Justice Lieut.-Col. Sharon Rivlin-Ahai convicted a boy (born in 1995) based on his own admission of participation in rock throwing at a moving vehicle. The judge accepted a plea bargain and sentenced the defendant to 5 months in prison, 6 months suspended sentence for 4 years and a 1000-shekel fine or two months incarceration.
As is her wont, this judge lectured the convicted boy, admonishing him to mend his evil ways.
Two more boys were waiting to be sentenced for throwing rocks: a 15-year old boy, released on bail, waited with his mother for his hearing and a 14 year old brought in shackled, who was sitting in the dock. His family had not yet arrived.
In Justice Lieut.-Col. Etty Adar’s court, two defendants were tried for throwing rocks.
Atty. Ismail Tawil represented one of them.
The judge accepted a plea bargain and stated: “The defendant – 18 years old minus 5 days – hurled rocks at a security forces vehicle, 400 meters from the entrance to Ofra [settlement].
At this point the judge sees fit to comment on the ambiguous phrasing of the indictment. The prosecutor peers at her documents, not sure how to interpret the charge: do 400 meters refer to the distance to the vehicle or is it the location of the vehicle? Smiling, the judge comments that there is a difference between the two versions, but “I don’t want to interfere” and she proceeds to hand down her sentence: 4 months in prison, 5 months suspended sentence for 4 years and a 1500 shekel fine, or three months incarceration.
It is strange that the judge refrains from ‘interfering with the details of the charge’, but does not refrain from handing down a sentence based on such dubious details.
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.
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.
I came to observe the next segment in the hearing of Bassel Ali Abu Maria and Yehya Falah Abu Maria, whose case I have been reporting before.
When I got to Ofer, it turned out that the Nadi-al-Assir attorneys had gone on strike indefinitely (because they had not been paid by the Palestinian Authority), so it was not clear which hearings would take place.
I installed myself in Major Shahar Greenberg’s court and watched a parade of minors whose hearings can be reduced to one sentence: “the judge explains to the defendant that due to his attorney’s strike the hearing is postponed.” Justice Greenberg explained that an adult defendant can decide for himself if he wants the hearing to continue without the defense, but when it comes to minors this is not an option.
Judge: Major Shahar Greenberg
Prosecutor: Lieut. Agranash Agniyahu
Defense: Atty. Akram Samarra (not present)
Defendant: Bassel Ali Khan Abu Maria,ID 859597908-Case 1991/12
In the previous hearing the family was given an invoice to pay 3000 shekels as compensation for the damaged vehicle [damaged by the rock throwing].
After the previous hearing the father, Ali, was confident that in accordance with the agreement, there would be no more payments and Bassel would be released in two months. I had doubts that there would be no more payments.
This time the father told me that he knew there would be another fine but he was not sure about the sum.
There was no hearing because the attorney did not show up.
A summation hearing was set for 3.3.13.
The trial of Yehya Falah Hamdi Abu Maria,ID 401303540-Case 1156/13
Defense: Atty. Hamza Abu Mizar standing in for Atty. Ahlam Hadad
In my report of 27.1.13 I stated that the defendant had denied all the allegations. I cited Atty. Hadad’s strong objections to the indictment and to the interrogation of the minor Yehya Falah. Her poignant questions regarding the way the IDF came to arrest Yehya and Witness No. 2 impelled Justice Greenberg to ask the prosecution if there were ‘confidentiality certificates’ in the file (the answer was no).
I was quite surprised to hear the defense (Ahlam Hadad’s replacement) declare at the outset that there was already an agreement for a plea bargain in the case. Prior to the attorney’s declaration there was a brief consultation between the attorney and Yehya’s father. The former explained to the father that a plea bargain requires paying a penalty. The father looked stunned and requested some time to get organized. Yehya, too, looked astonished.
Summation hearing was set for 3.3.13.
Translation: Marganit W.
Hearing in the case of Bassel Ali Hassan Abu Maria,ID 85959708 –Case 1991/12
Judge: Major Shahar Greenberg
Prosecutor: Lieutenant Agranash Agniahu
Defense: Akram Samara
Bassel has been in custody since 5.3.12. He was detained with a group of minors from Beit Ummar, charged with throwing rocks during a demonstration in support of the hunger strike of prisoner Hader Adnan. This group includes also Zen Hasham Abu Maria, some of whose hearings we also attended (see reports in our website).
The charge sheet enumerates incidents of rock throwing at vehicles, giving details of four damaged cars, including their makes, the damage and the drivers’ names.
It turns out that the file already contains a plea bargain (the defendant’s father told me that there is a decision of 13 months jail). There is also an agreement regarding compensation for the damaged vehicles.
The hearing was held in order to allow the father to obtain a 3000-shekel voucher, as part of a future plea bargain, to be arranged by the next hearing (in three weeks) when the agreement will be presented to the court.
Hearing in the case of Yehya Falah Abu Maria,ID 401303540 –Case 1156/13
The defendant is a minor from Beit Ummar.
Judge: Major Shahar Greenberg
Prosecutor: Lieut. Agranash Agniahu
Defense: Atty. Ahlam Haddad
Yehya has been detained since 7.1.13
The charges, as they appear in the indictment, include the usual litany that can be “copied and pasted” automatically by the court typists. The text is so broad: “ the defendant at such and such a place on such and such a date, or thereabout, threw an object or a rock toward a person or property with an intent to hurt or damage…”
Atty. Haddad pointed out – correctly – that such formulaic phrasing detracts from the defendant’s ability to prove an alibi. In addition she claimed that examination of the file makes it impossible to find out how the security forces came to arrest the defendant as well as Prosecution Witness No. 2.
The judge wanted to know if the file included a request for confidentiality. It turns out that it did not. In which case, the prosecution will have to answer Atty. Haddad’s question.
The defense had other minor complaints: the defendant suffers from eye problems, but has seen only a general practitioner. Thereupon the judge ordered the defendant to be seen by an ophthalmologist within 24 hours. The defense had other specific complaints about the investigation.
In the decision it was stated that the court had read the defendant the indictment, thus opening the trial, which will resume on 17.2.13 for evidentiary hearing.
Translation: Diana Rubanenko
Judge: Col. Shmuel Keidar
Police investigator: Omri Aweideh
Defence attorneys: Ahlam Haddad, Firas Sabbah, Fadi Qawasme, Judd Kadmani
Today was the second remand extension for a group of minors from the village Hussan, who threw stones; one stone hit a passing car and caused an accident in which a woman was injured.
The minors were arrested on 1.12.12. Today relatives were allowed to enter the court and talk to the detainees. The family tried to give the minors clean clothes, but the delivery - through a designated window - was not allowed. The judge asked to transfer the minutes (concerning all the detainees) to the commander of the detention centre, who is required to reply to the President of the Court in Judea - in writing, within 7 days - whether the handing over of clean clothes to suspects is a regular procedure, or specific to these suspects. Concerning the current case: he requested that the person in charge of security checks will examine the clothes in the screening machine, and allow the suspects to receive the clothes their families brought. Attorney Qawasmeh added that it is a serious problem, since most of the detainees are residents of the Occupied Territories, whose relatives cannot come to Jerusalem and bring them clothes. Until not long ago, lawyers were able to transfer the clothes the families sent. Since the detention centre has changed hands (it is now run by the Prison Authority) only families can provide packages of clothing, but they are not allowed to enter Jerusalem, and of course are banned from entering the jail area!
After hearing this, Justice Keidar stated this request in the court minutes.
We received printed minutes of the proceedings which we attended. There were 9 cases in the docket; we attended hearings of 6 cases.
Three of the minors were represented by Attorney Ahlam Haddad.
Ramah Younes Abed el-Fatah Hamara, ID 859688459
(His mother attended the hearing)
The investigator requested an eight-day remand extension and the transfer of the case to the prosecution. The defence counsel argued that her client had admitted that he threw stones, but left the scene five minutes before the accident and went home, where he worked on his computer and spent time with his family. He did not know about the accident and heard about it only after it happened. His relatives tried to hand over clothes to the suspect, but were told it was prohibited. Judge Keidar asked the boy if he had had no change of clothes since his arrest. The boy replied that he had another shirt, but it was under deposit at the jail.
The judge inquired about the matter with the investigator, who said he knew nothing about these procedures. The judge asked the suspect's mother, who said: I tried to hand over clothes but was told it's forbidden.
The judge's decision: there is agreement on extending the investigation by 8 days and transferring the case to the prosecution. As for the possibility of transferring clean clothes to detainees, he requested that the minutes be given to the prison commander, who would have to reply to the President of the Judea Court in writing within 7 days - whether giving a suspect clean clothes is a regular procedure for detainees or whether those rules were specific to this one (and also about others who made the same argument). He asked the person in charge of security checks to examine the clothes in the screening machine and to allow the suspect to receive them.
The judge added: "If it turns out that this is the regular procedure, not an unfortunate mistake, it is a source of embarrassment, and a thorough in-depth discussion must be conducted that will result in changing the procedures."
He extended the remand, following the parties' consent, by 8 days.
Ismail Ibrahim Ali Hamamreh, ID 860028133
The investigator requested 8 more days of interrogation.
The defence counsel: in the previous hearing, there was no police statement and he has not been examined yet. Today he gave his statement, and he is under psychological pressure because he was in isolation. He threw stones, but did not participate in throwing the stone that caused the accident. The detainee also said his condition is difficult because of the isolation. "I want to be with the others" - he said.
In the first extension the detainee claimed that he had a problem with his hand (which was broken before the detention). In the minutes, the judge requested that a doctor examine the prisoner. The request was not granted at that time.
The detainee's brother was present in the courtroom.
In his decision, the judge repeated his request to allow clothes to be given to him, especially underwear. In these minutes too, a medical examination is requested.
Extension of 8 days, with the parties' consent.
Mohammad Sami Abed el-Hamid Hamamreh, ID 401026240
Represented by Ahlam Haddad and by Judd Kadmani.
The detainee is a minor. The investigator requested an extension of 2 days and the file's transfer to Ofer court, to decide on his release. He did throw stones, but was not involved in the incident that caused the accident.
The judge's decision: with the consent of the parties, extended remand by 2 more days.
Sami Yusuf Mahmoud Abu Akroub, ID 907546949
Represented by Attorney Firas Sabbah.
The investigator requested 11 days more detention.
Q. (Firas) Has progress been made in the investigation?
A. There is no progress in the investigation, but there is a development in the investigation program. Attorney Sabbah has heard several times about the confidential report. He concluded: the request is excessive. The suspect has already been tried on the allegations against him in this case (membership and activity in a forbidden organization). He was sentenced to 9 years. Three years ago he was investigated on allegations to which he admitted, in partnership with others. At the time, the investigators were convinced that the suspect gave them all the information, and then, after three years they are interrogating him again on the same allegations. There is no new evidence, but someone incriminated him, someone that the suspect says he doesn't know. The defence asked the court to consider the facts.
The judge asked if the suspect had anything to add, and he answered: "The GSS interrogator 'up there' says I'll sit in solitary confinement until I say what he wants me to say."
The judge's decision: The prisoner was sentenced to 9 years for activity against the security in the region. Two weeks ago he was arrested for further questioning concerning other suspicions. The investigation is progressing slowly.
He extended the remand for 8 days, adding that there if no real progress is made, the Court will consider if there is room for further investigation of the allegations raised.
Qadri Jamil Rabia Alduek, ID 902754084
Represented by Attorney Firas Sabbah
The Investigator requested another 11 days in detention.
The allegations against the suspect are the same as those of the previous suspect. After three years, he is being investigated for suspicions that recently came to light.
The investigator answered Firas's questions by referring him to the confidential report.
The judge asked the suspect if he had anything to say. The answerwas: "It's taking too much time, what do you want from me?"
The judge's decision: As with detainee Sami Abu Arkoub – 8 more days of interrogation.
Mohammed Hamad Abed el-Aziz Hamamreh, ID 854084969
Represented by attorney Fadi Qawasmeh.
The investigator requested another 8 days in detention, and for the file to be transferred to the prosecution.
The defence counsel agreed on the number of days but reiterated that his client had not participated in the entire stone-throwing incident - only in part of it, and had left the site with another man named Ramah. He wanted this point to be investigated. In this case too there was a problem with passing over clean clothing.
The judge's decision: remand extension of 8 days.
Translation: Marganit W.
Judge: Shalom Dahan
Police Investigator: Omri Awida
Defense: Attorneys: Ahlam Haddad, Judd Kadmani, Firas Sabah
There are 8 cases in the docket. On two an agreement has been reached, three are of minors and one is an adult, all from the village Hussan.
Remand extensions in this court take place twice a week: Mondays and Thursdays. The number of days in detention here is supposedly decided by the circumstances of the interrogation. In fact, the number of days that a judge decrees is determined largely by the two days the court convenes. We saw this in today's decision: two detainees were remanded for 11 days so they could appear on Thursday; five detainees got 8 days - until Monday. On those days the judge will again determine the detention according to the court's calendar. The judge and the attorneys agreed that had the defendant been tried at Ofer Military Court - where remand extensions are held 6 days a week - their detention would probably have been shorter and the investigation quicker.
Hassin Sami Hassin Shabana - ID 921744116
Defense: Judd Kadmani
The investigator requests additional 15 days to complete the investigation.
Hassin lives in Sigin. He was arrested on 1.12.12, late at night at his home. Since his arrest he has been interrogated twice but not brought before a judge. This is his first remand extension.
The charges are activity that endangers security in the area, throwing rocks and participation in illegal gatherings. We learn from the defense's questions that the arrest was based on intelligence. The defendant denies the allegations. The attorney objects to such a long detention, which relies on intelligence and not on evidence.
The judge asks the defendant if he has anything to say. The latter responds: I have a headache. I asked for a pill but did not get any.
Judge’s decision: 8 days remand extension to complete the interrogation.
Kadri Jamil Rabi'aiI Aldroik - ID 902754084
Defense: Firas Sabah
The defendant is a resident of Hebron. He is a prisoner, having been arrested three years ago and sentenced to 8.5 years for membership and military activity in Hamas. He is interrogated on new allegations connected to the original charge. This is the third remand extension.
The attorney says that despite repeated interrogations there is no progress.
The defendant was told that he had been incriminated and is suspected of shooting. There is no other evidence. The interrogators insist that there is progress. The defendant denies the allegations, claiming that he does not know the guy who incriminated him.
As for his health, the defendant tells the judge that he has an earache and suffers from diminished hearing. When he was arrested, grenades were used
and that damaged his hearing.
The judge remands him for 8 more days and asks the interrogators to speed up the process.
Ismail Ibrahim Ali Hamamara - ID 860028133
Defense: Ahlam Haddad
The Investigators requests 8 more days.
The minor comes from the village Hussan. He is 17.5 years old. We were not asked to leave the court even though it is an investigation of a minor suspected of throwing rocks at an Israeli vehicle, which resulted in a severe injury to
Most of the defense's questions were answered by "It’s in the Secret file".
The minor was arrested on 1.12.12 before dawn. As a minor he should not have been arrested during the night. The GSS interrogation was conducted under conditions that do not apply to a minor. His family was not told where he was held, and he was not given an opportunity to consult an attorney regarding the specific allegation. He had no idea why he was detained and interrogated. The interrogation lasted 15 minutes: he was threatened that if he did not confess, he would rot in solitary confinement. Has anyone identified the suspect or seen him commit the crime? Who saw him? What was his role in the incident?
The police requests 10 additional days. Is there basis for the detention? Why 10 days? What investigation was carried out in the 72 hours since his arrest? The detainee is a senior in High School with no prior record.
Atty. Haddad moves to release him.
To the judge's question, the boy says he has a broken hand (from before the arrest) and underwent back surgery on 27.10.12. Before the arrest he went every week for check-ups. On 1.12.12 he had a doctor appointment, which he missed because of the arrest.
The judge refers the medical problem to the prison doctor. He explains that due to his tender age and clean record he remands him to 8 more days in custody.
Muhammad Hamed Abed Alaziz (Hamamara) - ID 854084969
Defense: Judd Kadmani
The defendant is a 17.5-year old minor from Hussan. The prosecutor requests ten more days. The charges are the same as the previous case referring to the same incident.
The defense objects to such a long remand. The defendant gave a statement to the police and is cooperating. The defense also invokes his young age.
Judge's decision: Due to his young age and cooperation he extends his remand by 8 days.
Ramah Yunas Fatah Hamamra - ID 859688459
Defense: Ahlam Haddad
Another minor from Hussan arrested on the same charges of rock throwing.
Atty. Haddad sums up: The basic rights of the minor have been violated (regarding the hour of arrest, the investigation and access to council). He was not given respite during the interrogation - which is a blatant violation of his rights. He gave a statement to the police; keeping him in detention is meant to put pressure on him to confess.
Decision: 8 days remand extension.
Abed Al Hamid Sami Abed Al Hamid Hamamra - ID 858316205
Defense: Ahlam Haddad
This defendant is also from Hussan. He is charged with the same violation of rock throwing. However he is not a minor. All questions to the prosecution are answered with reference to the "Confidential file".
As for his health, the defendant tells the judge he is under mental pressure and has a fever.
Due to his distress, the judge awards him 8 more days in detention.
Sami Yussuf Mahmoud Abu Arkub - ID 907546949
Defense: Firas Sabah
Taer Issa Aziz Baradaya - ID 936746460
Defense: Judd Kadmani
In both cases an agreement had been reached between prosecution and defense. Both ended with 11 days remand extension to complete the investigation.
Translation: Marganit W.
Judge: Major Amir Dahan
Hava Halevi's report
Courtroom 1 was almost empty, only the judge and the typist were present.
When I inquired, the judge explained that he had no sessions scheduled for this morning. In the meantime he dictated decisions to earlier trials.
-What is the topic?
-Petitions to return seized property.
Apparently, there is such a thing. The military court deals with demands by Palestinians to return property seized abased on Clause 84 of the Emergency Defense Regulations:
Clause D. By edict of the Minister of Finance, any person or police officer, may enter a premise that they have reason to believe contains property or account or money deposit, as specified in Clause A. They are licensed to search any such property or certificate and seize them until further instruction from the Finance ministry.
In our publication "Guilty" we deal extensively with the Emergency Defense Regulations, and with Clause 84 in particular, but we did not pay sufficient attention to the grand larceny and theft that those regulations permitted, whereby any person or policeman can enter any Palestinian house, search and seize anything they deem appropriate. etc.
It transpires that the army indeed makes use of these regulations and "gains possession" of property and money.
The owner is then allowed to appeal to the courts to regain his property.
Major Dahan said that there are several dozen such appeals every year.
In the decision I heard (Case No. 3006/12), Maale-Adomim police seized 84,000 shekels and a Mitsubishi Lancer. The military prosecution objected to hearing the
case, arguing that the seizure is temporary and that it was too early to bring the case before the courts. Naturally, there are all sorts of secret documents that cannot be disclosed for security reasons etc. The judge did not accept this motion, arguing that a long time (I am not sure how long) has elapsed since the seizure and since the owner appealed. This is what is referred to in military legalese as 'petition to return seized property'. This procedure cannot be dragged indefinitely.
However, the hearing in this case has just begun. Many waters will pour into the swimming pools of Maale Adumin before the owner will regain his money and his car, if at all.
Nessim Hader Abed Al-Muhsan Alame ID 901399147
Judge: Major Amir Dahan
Prosecutor: Captain Michael Avitan
Defense: Haled Al-araj
Nessim Alama is co-defendant in the ongoing saga of the retarded youth Malek Alame. The charge is rock throwing on 26.12.11.
Nessim is an elderly man, suffering from diabetes.
The prosecution has summoned two witnesses, one is Muhammad Alamae, who is already released and Shneur Shochat. Neither showed up.
Since Muhammad Alame has already been released, the prosecution did not
summon him (a specious argument, if you ask me). Shochat, who is either a
soldier or a policeman, simply disappeared. The protocol says there have been
6 attempts to locate him but his whereabouts cannot be traced.
Nobody seemed to care much. The judge ordered to continue the search and to summon witnesses. The prosecutor explained that the court administration tried in vain to locate the witness. The defense said it would try to negotiate the case and asked the court to set an additional evidentiary hearing. Since the court is aware of the attorney's difficulty to get up in the morning and wants to show consideration, the hearing is set for 28.6.12 at 2 AM.
Hagit Shlonsky's report
Judge: Major Meir Vigisser
Cases of 32 "day detainees" were brought in for remand extensions. We observed ten cases until noon. The youngest detainee was 13.5 years old, the oldest 68. 4 were charged with rock throwing - all four were minors.
Four detainees were caught staying illegally in Israel, one was suspected of membership and activity in an unlawful organization and other serious violations (one charge we could not ascertain).
Hearings of "day detainees" are usually short and often end with postponement, at the request of either the prosecution or the defense. Sometimes the court
accedes to the motion in order to allow completing of the indictment or a plea bargain.
Malek Awad, ID402848105 - Case 3076/12, 13.5 years old.
He is brought in handcuffed, like the other four detainees.
Malek is charged with throwing rocks together with other boys, one of whom
incriminated him. The prosecution shows photos of the incident which the
judge accepts as evidence of the charge.
Atty. Iyad Misk agrees to a 24-day jail sentence plus 500 shekels fine, the same penalty meted to the other boys implicated in the same incident.
Agreement with the prosecution is pending.
Decision: remand extension until Tuesday, 19.6.12.
Issa Awad, ID402730592 - Case 2871/12 - about 14 years old, from
He was arrested on 22.5.12 and charged with rock throwing.
The court had released him on bail, but he remained in jail because, in court parlance, "he was unable to meet the conditions of the bail".
He is represented by Atty. Jalid.
Today the sides reached an agreement and the court accepted it.
Decision: 91 days of time served, 3 month suspended sentence for 3 years,
plus 500 shekels fine, or 15 days in jail.
Mahdi Tuihaa, ID 852950179 - Case 2964/12
Arrested for staying illegally in Israel. He is charged with entering Israel twice in a 3- month period, and with staying there for a long time.
He is not represented by an attorney. The judge asked if he wanted a court appointed attorney within 6 days, and when he consented, the judge extended his remand by 6 days and instructed the prison authorities to allow him 3 phone calls to his family.
The next hearing is set for 19.6.12
Muhammad Samara, ID 907623615 - Case 2779/12
Accused of staying inside Israel illegally.
He has prior convictions (apparently for the same violation) between 2000 and 2009. He claims that for the past 3 years he has not been convicted.
Atty. Abeer Mrar represents him, but Muhammad is dissatisfied with her representation. He seems stressed and in fluent Hebrew explains that he objects to delaying the hearing, as his attorney suggested. The judge explains that after three prior convictions, he is likely to receive at least 3 months in jail and advises him to rely on his attorney.
After deliberations between attorney and client, the attorney hands her resignation, and Muhammad seems pleased.
The judge decides to keep him in detention until conclusion of proceedings and instructs the court to find him an attorney.
He counsels Muhammad to bring to the next hearing testimony and documents to prove the dire economic need that impels him to enter Israel illegally to find employment.
Next hearing is set for the coming Monday 18.6.12 at 9:30.
Muhammad Afana, ID 852713726 - Case 2666/12 - resident of Beit Jallah.
He is 23 years old, father to a year old baby; his wife is pregnant.
Charge: Illegal stay in Israel.
His mother, who speaks Hebrew, told us that her son had hired Atty. Haled
Al-araj to defend him. Since her son's arrest a month ago, the mother and the wife have came three times to court and each time the hearing was postponed. She claims that the delay was initiated by the attorney, who had not consulted her son or herself.
The detainee was brought in, but the hearing was postponed to the afternoon and we could not stay.
In a phone call later, the mother told me that the attorney had reached an agreement with the prosecution. The agreement was presented by Haled Al-araj's replacement (Ibrahim Al-araj).
Sentence: 91 days jail, 5 month suspended sentence for 4 years and 1500 shekel fine.
Translation: Marganit W.
We waited outside the gate for 45 minutes. Our turn came after every single Palestinian waiting in the shed had been called by name and admitted to the compound. The invisible entity behind the dark glass keeps perfect order but not very efficiently: some of the admitted family members will have to wait for trials taking place in the afternoon. In the meantime, we are about to miss the trial taking place right now.
Judge: Major Sharon Rivlin-Ahai
We attended 4 of the 22 cases in the docket.
Four young defendants are accused of throwing objects (rocks) and/or manufacturing and throwing incendiary objects. One defendant – whose case is concluded today – requested to change his defense, Atty. Bargout, who had reached an agreement with the prosecution. The judge said she was under no obligation to change his defense. But Atty. Bargout had already gone outside to find the attorney that the defendant wanted. The defendant’s parents were present in court but did not intervene. We later learned - in another hearing – that the request to change attorney is common. The judge’s decisions were based on agreements reached between defense and prosecution in three of the cases involving 18-20 year old boys who admitted to similar violations.
The penalties were the usual ones: jail time (between 4.5 and 5 months); suspended sentence (between 6 and 6.5 months for 2-4 years) and fine (between 1000-2000 shekels).
The differences in penalty is explained by the special circumstances of each defendant, such as age at the time of the crime, criminal record, remorse, acceptance of charges during the interrogation etc.
Continuation of the hearing of Islam Dar Ayoub, ID 402197834 – Case 1367/11
Islam Dar Ayoub – under house arrest – came with his father to attend an evidentiary hearing in his case. He was arrested on 23.1.11 on charges of rock throwing during a Friday demonstration in Nabi Saleh.
He was 14 years old at the time. Since I last saw him last in court he has changed from child to young man. (for reports of his trial during the last year and a half, see our site).
Only one out of four prosecution witnesses reported to court: Sgt. First Class Yuval Tiano who served as the regiment’s photographer during the demonstration on Friday 12.11.11. He was summoned to testify about the testimony he gave to the police on 23.11.11 regarding the demonstration.
His testimony was the basis for the investigators’ charges against Islam.
In reply to the prosecutor’s questions, he stated that he had photographed the rally and the disturbances that ensued, including throwing rocks, blocking roads, burning tires and hurling gas grenades. He claimed that the purpose of the photography – which was ordered by his commander – was identification and incrimination. He professed to have a good memory, capable of remembering hundreds of photos taken during Friday demonstrations, including those in the folder he handed to the prosecution.
In cross- examination the defense wanted to know what treatment and editing the photos in the folder had undergone. He replied that he had given the footage to the Intelligence Dept. but he did not remember to whom exactly. There is no record of it. Once he handed over the memory-card with the photos, they were developed and edited. He was not the one choosing what would go into the booklet nor did he provide the captions; he did not cut or blow up the pictures nor did he write “Nabi Saleh Demonstration 12.11.10” on the file, or make any other marking. He did not know if after printing the pictures, the photos were kept on the memory-card. Maybe someone erased them, he said.
The witness did remember that while testifying to the police, he was shown two booklets, but today he can’t say whether he was the photographer of the other booklet, which is not included in the file given to the defense.
The defense objected to submitting this collection of photos by this witness as testimony. She demanded the original, unedited photos be presented to the court, not those manipulated by the investigators who prepared the indictment.
Islam’s father approached me during the hearing and told me that last Wednesday (May 16) at midnight, soldiers came to their house and took photos of Islam…
The case was scheduled for summation on 21.6.12.
Judge: Major Meir Vigiser
Prosecutor: Lieutenant Avishai Kaplan
The docket contains 33 cases.
Muhammad Mussa Aliyan Aladam, ID 905460150 - Case 2292/12
A 41 years old father of 5, living in the mountains far from any village (12 km West of the village Beit Ula), tills the land and tends his flock.
His defense, Atty. Jamal Hamed agreed to a plea bargain whereby Muhammad will admit that for two weeks before his arrest he had been in possession of an improvised hunting rifle, without obtaining a permit from a military commander. The prosecutor claimed that the weapon’s status is in question and he moved it be confiscated.
The defendant, who speaks fluent Hebrew, explained to the judge why the circumstances of his life necessitated keeping a gun to protect himself, his family and his 100 head flock against criminals, junkies and wild animals. He has already been in detention for two months, unable to communicate with his wife who is in Jordan for open-heart surgery. There is no one to take care of his flock and his heavy investment in developing his farm is in danger of being lost.
The judge was impressed by the defendant’s heartfelt argument and decided to accept the plea bargain:
91days of time served (from the day of arrest), 3 month suspended sentence and a 2000 shekel fine (or 2 months in jail). The judge also ordered to confiscate the gun.
Before pronouncing his verdict, the judge predictably said that he was not bound by the agreement between the sides.
To the best of my recollection, such announcements accompany all decisions involving plea bargains. But in this case, before detailing the penalties the judge said, “Considering the defendant’s statement, I will recommend to the prison commander to allow the defendant to contact his family, and in view of his clean record, to consider reduced penalty: he should get a third of the jail time off for good behavior… The defendant’s statement concerning the need to protect himself should be taken into account as well as a permission to keep a gun for this purpose.”
If the judge is not bound by the plea bargain, why did Justice Vigiser not hand down a lighter sentence right away (e.g., 60 days which coincide with the time he spent in detention from his arrest). Such a decision would have corresponded to his recommendation to the prison authorities.