Translation: Marganit W.
We came to hear the sentencing in the case of Muhammad Amira whose trial has been dragging on for a year and a half [see Norah’s report from 14.5.11]
Muhammad Amira is released on bail and came from his home in Ni’alin. We entered the court compound at the same time and had a chance to talk with him for an hour while we were waiting together, nervously, for the courtroom door to open. It turned out that all this while the judge, Major Amir Dahan was trying to convince the prosecution to retract the indictment. At three PM the answer came that the prosecution had rejected the judge’s offer.
We entered the court. The judge said that he had decided to acquit the defendant from all charges (sedition, supporting a hostile organization, preventing soldiers from carrying out their duty). The judge read his decision, which included a very detailed summation of the trial: the testimonies, the prosecution’s arguments and the defense’s replies. All this made clear that the prosecution was unable to prove Amira’s guilt.
Since the session had already taken so long, the judge decided to defer reading the rest of the arguments to next week. He asked defense, Atty. Nery Ramati (to whom he gave well deserved compliments) to submit in writing Amira’s petition for compensation. We will write a full report once the judge completes reading his decision and we have received the protocol. The legal procedure was not completed today. The prosecution will presumably appeal the acquittal. This case may drag on and on, and there’s no knowing how it will end. But today we had a little taste of justice, something quite rare in this place these days.
Translation: Marganit W.
Follow-up on the trial of Malek Alalami
Today we received the indictment of Malek Alalami that we had requested. Once again, we saw proof of the sloppiness that led to false charges in the indictment presented to the military court. The charges are phrased in a mechanical, repetitive manner. The signature on the document was that of military prosecutor Mazi Mekonen, while the interrogator who questioned Malek is Zaki Horani. They must be proud of their handiwork. The trial of Malek (mentally challenged and partially deaf) is a prism through which we can see clearly how the system works. How is a person charged in the military courts? The charge is based on the interrogation of the detainee as it is recorded in the memorandum. That document is not in my hands, but one can reconstruct the exchange between Malek and the interrogator from the indictment.
The first count of the indictment states that Malek took part in rock throwing on three occasions.
-Where? – “On Route 60 or nearby”.
-When? – “In 2010 or thereabout”.
Who can disprove such allegations, which do not specify time or place? The indictment mentions 6 witnesses. Wouldn’t they testify to the time and place?
The second count says that in Dec. 2011 the accused drove a Subaru with two friends and on the way they threw rocks at a police car.
He drove the vehicle? This is as absurd as claiming that he operated a particle accelerator.
Then comes a description of some very vicious rocks: “The rocks that the accused and Yusuf threw hit the police car, landing under the moving vehicle, and continued to interfere with the driving.” Weird.
We now return to Malek’s interrogation. The allegations are so infuriating; it is hard to imagine what a dialog with a retarded detainee who is hard of hearing sounds like. This is how I imagine it:
Since the indictment mentions three friends of Malek who had already been detained, accepted the charges and incriminated him, the interrogator asked Malek if he admitted that he had thrown rocks on three occasions two years earlier (or thereabout!).
Malek must have nodded and maybe even said ‘Yes’.
The interrogator asked if he did it with three friends. Malek must have nodded, maybe even said ‘Yes’.
Then the interrogator asked if he drove the car on 26.12.11 or thereabout. Malek must have nodded and maybe even said ‘Yes’.
Etc. Etc. Had he been asked if he were Arlozorov’s assassin, he would probably have nodded and said ‘Yes’. The interrogator must have been pleased to have such a compliant detainee. He even made him stamp his finger on this report. The interrogator, after all, was only following orders. He was told to interrogate and he did. Based on his report, the prosecutor wrote a bizarre and slipshod indictment, which leaves doubts as to who drove behind whom, in which direction, and what does it prove anyway.
Since then, however, several things happened. After Haya’s statement in court, Malek was sent for an interview with the regional psychiatrist. The latter’s deputy recommended Malik be re-evaluated by a diagnostics committee at the Mental Health Services, as well as by an ENT specialist to determine if he is hard of hearing. The report was sent to the court.
Justice Amir Dahan ordered to send him to the committee as soon as possible.
Another internal memorandum hearing was scheduled for 17.5.12. Until then, the IPS (Israel Prison Service) will report on the progress of this case: if Malek has been seen by the committee and examined by a specialist. If he has not – another hearing will be scheduled.
Here are my questions:
Why didn’t they release him on bail until the trial? He was not a flight risk.
If the Mental Health Committee determines that:
A. Malek could not possibly drive a car.
B. He could not possibly throw rocks from a moving car while driving it.
C. Because of his deafness he could not have heard the interrogator’s questions, so all his “answers” are trumped up.
So what can we expect? Will they acknowledge that it is morally, ethically wrong to mass -produce hundreds of indictments for violations that the occupation engenders and perpetuates ignoring the absurd content of those indictments? In any event, all the defendants confess and the courts almost always believe the soldiers and the policemen.
And last but not least: what was the role of Malek’s defense attorney? Was he doing his duty?
Judge: Major Amir Dahan
Prosecutor: Lieutenant Avishai Kaplan
Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati
Defendant: Muhammad Abed Alkader Mahmoud Amira,ID910285972 – Case 3197/11
The defendant has been released on bail and came from his home in N’ilin. He is a high school teacher. He came with defense witness Sa’eed Amira, a photographer from N’ilin.
Muhammad Amira is accused of incitement and support of an unlawful organization as well as of obstructing a soldier.
The charges relate to an “event” [demonstration] that occurred on 15.6.11 when Amira was arrested.
The first witness testified that he is an independent journalist/photographer working with “B’Tzelem”. He shot the two films that are used as evidence.
In cross-examination, the prosecutor asked if the witness supplied the English subtitles, “A Peaceful Demonstration Against the Expansion of the Illegal Settlement Nil”i…
Answer: The witness shot the film and handed it over to an Israeli. He is not sure about the content of the subtitles. There was an incident in the village of Dir-Kadis (that borders on N’ilin]. He heard of construction works and of a demonstration taking place there and came over.
Defense Witness No. 2 is the defendant himself.
It was apparent from the prosecutor’s examination that he sought to base the main charge on incitement. His aim was to prove that Muhammad Amira is a leader of the N’ilin demonstrations. He asked why Muhammad went from N’ilin to Dir Kadis on 15.6.11.
Answer: I saw tractors near my plot and went to check out what was going on.
He added that his wife is from Dir Kadis and some of the land belongs to her family, so he went there to ask the guards what was going on, and they began to shoot… “I tried to stop him [the guard] to find out what was happening.”
Later on in the examination Muhammad insisted that he had been arrested because he is from N’ilin [which is the focus of the army’s attention because of the demonstrations that regularly take place there]
The prosecutor wanted to know if he is a “leader” that people follow.
Answer: I am a teacher in N’ilin. Perhaps because I am a teacher, people listen to me…
Question: I am telling you that you played a central role in the demonstration… you are charged that when the demonstrators were dispersed by tear gas, you told them to come back…
Answer: I was arrested because I am from N’ilin…
The prosecutor played a scene from the film where someone says “Ta’alu” [come] and asked Muhammad if it was his voice.
Answer: Maybe I called to them to get away from the gas and the soldiers…
Question: Now you claim that you came to check on your land, yours and your wife’s family…why didn’t you mention this to the interrogator?
Answer: In Israel there is a right to keep silent. When a man is angry he does not want to talk…
It transpired later that the military vehicle where the arrested Muhammad was held went through the checkpoint near Ni’lin, the commander standing there – who did not know him personally – said, “Here’s Muhammad Amira. In other words, he had been marked beforehand as a wanted man.
This is not the first time that Amira is arrested: in 2008 he was brought to trial and was acquitted. So they continue to try to indict him.
(See additional details of the hearing in the attached protocol - Hebrew).
Summation hearing was scheduled for the trial but a map of the region was missing from the file. The prosecutor stated, “We need the map to ask the defendant a few questions…” [to determine who owns the land where the incident occurred?]
Thus, a continuation was scheduled to complete the cross examination regarding the map and for summation – for 20.6.12 at 10 AM.
Translation: Marganit W.
The physical check-up at the gate is getting worse and worse lately – this is unacceptable!
Justice Zvi Heilbronn’s Court
There were many delays today. The judge left the court because the defense did not show up; he asked to be summoned when the latter arrived. The judge returned but the attorney was not there, so the judge left again. Eventually the hearing began.
Ribhi Bazar, ID944540368
The defendant is a middle-aged man from Beit Lakiya. There were no family members in the court. He looked very dejected.
The prosecutor did not give us his name, guarding his privacy.
Defense: Rahamim Dayan (standing in for Atty. Dahan who represented the defendant previously)
Charge: On 18.2.12, a week before his arrest, the suspect provided his picture and 15 shekels with a view to obtaining a false ID card under the name of Yihya Shalubi. He is also charged with infringement of the ‘closed area injunction’ (illegal stay). The court accepted a plea bargain whereby two (unspecified) counts were struck from the indictment.
The court ruling: in view of the defendant’s prior convictions – 3 similar violations and one old violation; considering his record and his suspended sentence, and despite his claim that he broke the law in order to provide for his family (he has seven children), the court insisted he has to use legal means when he leaves his area.
Sentence: 4 months in jail from the day of arrest (26.2.12) and activation of the suspended sentence for 2 months, plus a new 2-month suspended sentence for 30 months for entering and leaving Israel illegally. He also got a 3-month suspended sentence for 3 years for using false documents, in addition to a 2500 shekel fine (to be paid upon his release) or two and a half months in jail.
Mati (?) Ruhi. The accused has no attorney. The court appoints Atty. Safiya (who arrived 5 minutes before the hearing). No family members attended the hearing.
Charge: He was caught on Rte 1 near Mishor Adumim driving at the speed of 143 KPH (in a 90 zone). When flagged, he fled the intersection driving through a red light. He was caught at Azariya Junction, with no driver’s license and no insurance. The vehicle has a yellow license plate and there were 5 passengers in it. He claims he is an auto electrician and is used to driving his vehicle in the village.
The Police Investigator requests detention until the conclusion of the proceedings.
The defense says such violations do not merit detention.
The investigator could not cite any precedents for his motion.
A debate ensued concerning the number of traffic lights on the road in question.
The judge says that if he releases the defendant before the conclusion of the proceedings, he will impose a complete house arrest under adult supervision.
The judge allowed the defendant 3 phone calls to arrange bail.
Justice Sharon Rivlin-Ahai’s Court
A group of detainees, most of them minors, came in one after the other. We left after four hearings, when exhaustion took a toll on our attention and concentration.
Muhammad Najah Salem – ID 4021955283 – Case No. 3129/11
A 14-year old boy from Hizme, who looks like a 10 year old. His mother sat in the court. When I spoke to her she smiled warmly.
Charge: throwing rocks in June 2011. The boy is not in detention. He sits next to his attorney, Safiya.
Military prosecutor – name not given.
Atty. Safiya spoke with the boy (perhaps trying to convince him to agree to a plea bargain). He smiled and looked amused, perhaps because this short, skinny boy was adamant in his refusal to admit guilt and insisted on an evidentiary trial.
There is a statement given by the boy at the police station, but I could not hear its details. There is also an incriminating witness, summoned to appear in court on 18.4.12. The boy is barred from discussing the case with the witness (also from Hizme).
The boy, showing serious demeanor, seems to understand the injunction. When the hearing was over, he sat down with his mother. Apparently, they waited for the hearings of the other boys who were charged with the same violation at the same event.
Fakher Shaher Raza Naasan, ID 860087949- Case No. 1625/12 – age 17.
Defense: Atty. Ahmed Safiya
Charge: possession of arms – on 20 occasions. He was caught collection bullets and shells at Hativat Etzion. The soldiers chased him and he is accused of preventing a soldier from carrying out his task. In December he and others threw rocks at an Israeli bus and damaged it, they aimed rocks at soldiers, set fire to a copse in order to draw the soldiers, then threw rocks at them.
The court agreed to a motion by the defense to postpone the trial by two weeks so the sides can reach an agreement.
Muhammad Jalab Muhammad Saleh Aladin- ID 401646385, Case No. 3185/11, age 16 from Hizme.
Defense: Atty. Ahmad Safiya.
The boy is accused of throwing rocks at Israeli vehicles in June 2011. He admits the charges.
In reply to the judge’s questions, the boy states that he does not study and does not work.
What do you do? – Nothing.
The court accepts a plea bargain: in view of the defendant’s clean record, his young age and his admission of guilt, he gets a 6-month suspended sentence for 3 years, plus a 1000 shekel fine to be subtracted from the bail deposit. The rest of the money will be returned to him.
Muhammad Waja Jamil Wahadan – ID 854554631 – Case No. 1441/12
A minor (we could not ascertain how old). Not in detention. The family is not present in court. He sits next to Muhammad Najah Salem and his mother.
Defense: Atty. Ahmad Safiya
The boy denies the allegation of rock throwing. Witnesses will be summoned and Atty. Safiya will represent him when the names of the witnesses are obtained. For reasons of conflict of interest the attorney has to make sure that he does not represent any of those witnesses.
Norah’s Report from Courtroom 4
Judge: Major Etty Adar
Defense: Captain Michael Avitan
Defense: Atty. Labib Habib
Defendant: Bassem Muhammad Abed Alrahman Tamimi – Case No. 2058/11, resident of Nabi Saleh, accused of incitement and organizing illegal demonstrations. He has been detained since March 2011 [See earlier reports on this case]
Today the court heard the concluding statements in this trial.
A large crowd of supporters and diplomats was present, as was the defendant’s mother, a small, frail elderly woman who cried most of the time. Her presence, however, brought joy to Bassem, her only son. A few years ago she lost her daughter who died while in detention.
The hearing began at 10:30 and ended at 13:15.
The prosecutor argued that Bassem Tamimi’s violation went beyond incitement, becoming active solicitation to throw rocks.
The defense, in a lengthy and excellent summation, argued that his client’s detention is illegal and he has to be released. His detention is based on illegal testimony and incrimination by two minors from the village whose interrogation was carried out in violation of juvenile laws. Their rights were violated and they spoke under pressure of intimidation and false promises of release.
When the hearing was over, I helped the old mother to her feet and brought her to her son who kissed her excitedly. Nobody in the court (including soldiers and prison officials) dared interfere.
Translation: Marganit W.
Morning and Afternoon sessions
We were detained at the entrance for 20 minutes and were allowed in only when most
Palestinians had been admitted.
Judge: Major Sharon Rivlin-Ahai
There were 21 cases in the docket this morning, most of them memoranda and arraignments hearings.
There was a long session in the afternoon for the evidentiary trial of Ahmad Mahmoud Ali Al-Salibi,
Prosecutor: Captain Batya Pitrio
Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati
Ahmad Al-Salibi, 16 years old, is released on bail. He was arrested at Beit Ummar on suspicion that together with others he threw rocks on Rte 60 and attacked a policeman. He does not admit the charges. (In the same incident a Palestinian student was shot and injured by a BP officer. In his defense, the officer claimed that he had been attacked while trying to arrest one of the rock throwers and that his life was in danger. The injured student’s trial is taking place these days at Ofer; he is accused of throwing rocks and attacking a policeman, Amir Sabarna.
[See previous reports on this case]
On 13.10.11 Ahmad Al-Salibi was interrogated at Hebron Police station by Sgt.-Major Sami Hamza, who today testifies for the prosecution in Salibi’s trial.
The defense conducts a meticulous cross-examination of the witness, exposing the faulty methods the interrogator had employed, in blatant contravention of all laws and regulations. Apparently, Sami Hamza used the same methods on other detainees who took part in the incident.
The defense attorney cites passages from transcripts of interrogations he had examined. Hamza did not warn the suspect that he might “incriminate himself”. He did not remind him of his right to remain silent, nor did he explain that whatever he said might be used against him.
The interrogator – who claims to be a qualified juvenile officer – did not comply with the requirement to have the parents present in a minor’s interrogation. He did not inform the family about the investigation and about the fact that it was conducted at the police station in Hebron.
In the video of the interrogation (parts of which were read in court) you could clearly hear how Interrogator Hamza tries to trip the detainee (for example: even though there is no factual information, the interrogator tells the detainee that the police has a video showing how he – the accused – attacks the soldier); similarly, Hamza tries to put words in the mouth of the accused. The defense claims that there are tendentious inaccuracies in the translation from Arabic (the language used in the interrogation) into Hebrew (the language in which the statement was written). Those inaccuracies are always detrimental to the accused. The main question the defense raises about the interrogation is: How did the interrogator know what to ask?? The soldiers who testified about the incident did not identify the accused and did not mention him specifically. It turned out that only four days after the interrogation did intelligence regarding Al-Salibi surface. He and other suspects arrested a few hours after the incident were interrogated without any evidence or information.
In the next hearing another witness will testify for the prosecution and the defense will present its arguments. It is set for 26.2.12 at 13:30.
From 10:30 until after 15:00 the court heard testimonies in the trial of Bassem Muhammad Abed Alrahma Tamimi, ID 959225640 - Case No. 2058/11
(See earlier reports on this trial)
Bassam’s wife and young son are present in court, as well as some of his usual supporters, plus a journalist and a photographer.
Judge: Major Etty Adar
Prosecutor: Michael Avitan
Defense: Atty. Labib Habib
Yitzhak Shilo, head of the unit that interrogated Islam Dar Ayyoub Tamimi (Bassam’s incriminator) testified for the prosecution.
(See earlier reports of the pre-trial regarding Islam’s case).
In cross-examination, the witness describes the interrogation as routine, in accordance with interrogations of Palestinians accused of disturbing the peace that are conducted at the Judea-Samaria Central Unit (the Binyamin Police Station does not have the means to tackle such disturbances, which cause the IDF serious damage. Local stations lack the skilled crews to interrogate and record, as well as proper facilities).
The defense tries to show that the interrogation of rock throwing kids is aimed at exposing the leaders and inciters behind them, to catch the “big fish”. For this purpose a slew of interrogators are recruited, in addition to the one or two qualified to interrogate juveniles. Those interrogations take longer than usual and use sophisticated equipment.
The witness confirms that the interrogation was conducted specifically to help solve the problem of disturbances at Nabi Saleh, but he rejects the attorney’s contention that the interrogation he conducted intentionally broke the law governing juvenile interrogation with a view to ferreting out the organizers.
A Side Story
A woman accompanied by her Hebrew speaking husband (who serves as her translator) is waiting in the court for the conclusion of Bassem Tamimi’s trial.
She is released on 1000 -shekel bail having been summoned to court upon her arrest at Meitar checkpoint 6 months ago. She is charged with “violating the injunction regarding enclosed areas”. In plain language: She is a Palestinian who does not have a permit to enter Israel. She admits that when she came back from visiting her sick father in Bethlehem, soldiers checked the passengers of the car and discovered her. Charges were brought against her (Case 2577/11).
The woman has been living with her husband and children for 25 years, but all her requests for entry permits have been denied.
She has no attorney and denies the charges. Justice Adar explains that the woman has a choice: plea bargain that can be arranged with the prosecution on the spot, or an evidentiary trial. Prosecutor Michael Avian made himself available right away, suggested conditions for a bargain, the judge accepted, and the state coffers were enriched by 500 shekels, to be deducted from the deposit the woman had posted.
The judge also approved a one month suspended sentence for a year.
Translation: Marganit W.
Morning and Afternoon
While Hava attended the evidentiary hearing of Bassem Tamimi, I walked into Courtroom 4 to check the remand extension hearing of two girls from Um Fagara village, (near Yata) in the South Hebron Mountains who were arrested on 24.11.11.
The background to the arrest: That day the army entered the village with 2 bulldozers and 5 jeeps and demolished two houses (one belonging to one of the defendants) and a mosque, both built without permits [as if inhabitants of South Hebron Mountains, which is in Zone C, could ever obtain a building permit. The purpose of the occupation is to harass the area residents, who are dirt poor, until they leave the area, which Israel covets for its own settlements].
See a film documenting the arrest
See article by Amira Hass on the same subject
The two girls are detained in the Russian Compound in Jerusalem.
Judge: Major Zvi Heilbron
Prosecutor: Major Nathanela Kola
Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati and Atty. Akram Samara
-Amal Jamal Mussa Hamada, ID 855070850 - 17 year old minor
-Sausan Mahmud Hassin Hamada – ID 852634138 0- 21 years old student in Yata
The prosecutor presents the judge with the police investigation file where the violation is detailed. the charge is: attacking a soldier.
While the representatives of the Civil Administration, together with soldiers and Border Police came to demolish her house, Sausan picked up a stone [later described as a ‘rock’] and hit a BP officer on the hand. Sausan was arrested. Then Amal came on the scene and poured water on the officer.
(read a description of the incident by CPT [Christian Peace Team located in Hebron and the South Hebron Mountains] activists and compare the two versions)
The prosecution agreed to Amal’s release that day (perhaps because she is a minor, or because squirting a soldier with water is not such a serious violation) in return for a 4000 shekel deposit,
The defense explained that Amal cannot afford to pay such a sum: she is the daughter of a destitute shepherd, and besides, her house has been destroyed.
He wanted to know if the prosecution intends to press charges against Amal.
Prosecutor: We’ll examine the evidence and proceed accordingly.
The judge’s decision: He’s willing to consider reduced bail, plus third person Israeli guarantor (me) to insure that the defendant shows up for a hearing, should one take place on 21.12.11.
As for Sausan, the judge stated that according to the police report the defendant held a rock, which she intended to hurl at the BP officer. She was deterred with pepper spray.
The prosecutor moved for a 4 day remand extension to prepare the indictment, but the judge, acceding to the defense, instructed the prosecution to produce the indictment by 14:00 the next day, thus extending the remand by one day.
The judge also ordered the Prison Authorities to provide Sausan with a coat, after seeing the girls shiver, since they were wearing the same clothes they were arrested in 4 days earlier.
I wondered how the released underage girl was going to get home that day, with no money and no proper clothes. My concern proved well founded: She was released from the Russian Compound detention center in the evening. An Israeli friend of the family who inquired where he could pick her up was told to wait for her at Qalandiya Checkpoint. The man waited for 5 hours only to learn later that the girl had been released at Bethlehem Checkpoint. Amal reached home at 10 PM.
The next day, at 2 PM I reported again to the court to find out about Sausan. The judge agreed to release her on a bail that was much higher than Amal’s – guaranteed by the above-mentioned friend of the family. The judge imposed on her a house arrest in Yata. The prosecution, however, requested 48 hours to consider an appeal. Thus Sausan was not released that day.
Her father, who attended the hearing, had brought clothes for her, and so did the family friend.
The next day, I brought the clothes to the Detention Center at the Russian Compound, which was not a nice experience either.
In the end, Sausan was released on Thursday evening. This time two activists waited for her at Bethlehem Checkpoint to drive her home. But they waited in vain, because she was released at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem (thus turning her into an Illegal Sojourner in Israel). A taxi driver took her home.
Thus ends the detention part of the saga of the two girls. We shall wait for their trial.
That day and the next I attended evidentiary hearings in the case of Bassem Tamimi where the prosecution had summoned two minors to incriminate him.
I attach 2 press releases sent by ThePopular Struggle Coordination Committee entitled “I testified under duress” and “We were instructed to incriminate him.”
Translation: Marganit W.
Morning + afternoon sessions
Since there were several hearings we were interested in, we split for part of the time.
I report on hearings in Courts 5 and 7.
Judge: Major Shmuel Fleischman
Prosecutor: Captain Avishai Kaplan
Defense: Atty. Lymor Goldstein
I was present at the following hearings:
Suleiman Salem Issa Adrah– ID 850883216 – Case 226708, resident of Tawani in South Hebron Mountains.
This is an old case from 2008. One of our members who attended the hearing wrote at the time:
“This may sound funny, but Mr. Adrah is accused of attacking Gedalya, the security chief of the area, of breaking into his jeep and breaking his eyeglasses. Try to imagine Mr. Adrah, a shepherd from Tawani, attacking the jeep of the security chief with bare hands, in the presence of the latter and other policemen, soldiers and settlers who were there for reasons we shall relate later. Mr. Adrah claims that he himself was attacked and needed medical care. Now that he is recovered, charges are brought against him. He is not detained, and came to court from his home. He testifies about the incident…”
Today the judge acquitted the defendant due to reasonable doubt about the charges. In view of his acquittal, he is to be reimbursed for the 3000 shekels that he deposited as bail in 2008 as guarantee for his reporting to court.
Since the prosecution has the right to appeal within 30 days, the prosecutor requested the money be withheld lest Adrah does not show up for the appeal.
The defense objected, stating that his client attended all his hearings in the past. The judge concurred and ordered the money reimbursed.
The rest of the hearings in Justice Fleischman’s court were conducted in a very different atmosphere.
Four young men from the village of Qarawat Bani Zeid were brought in to hear their sentence. The judge began badgering and humiliating them: he lectured them and browbeat them for having repeated an offence for which they had already been sentenced (throwing rocks). My impression was that he was particularly irked by their unbowed attitude as they sat on the defendants’ bench: they chatted with their relatives, smiled and giggled, perhaps out of embarrassment, perhaps because this is how young people behave when they sit together.
The judge himself had a cynical smirk on his face during the entire hearing, even when he was giving a ‘pep talk’ to the defendants.
Here are some of his pearls of wisdom:
“ Is that how you intend to divide your time, between the court and prison… ? You will get 14 months. Tell, me why not more? Why shouldn’t I give you 4 years?”
“Why are you laughing? You will stop laughing when you’ll be sitting in jail for a long time…”
“You have been talking all this time. Now I am going to talk and you will listen…”
“The defendant is smiling as if his verdict is not handed down today. I am not sure he understands the severity of his violations, and I am not sure he is not going to do it again, endangering security in the region. Under these circumstances, deterrence is called for, so I intend to be strict in deciding his suspended sentence.”
[Which is what he did. I wonder how the vindictive judge would have ruled, had the 17-year old dropped to his knees and cried. Would that have satisfied him?]
Another defendant, who told the court he was engaged to be married, was told, “You want to get married, eh? You should think about the kids you may have…” And then, “Maybe I should give you two years in jail, seeing that you like prison so much…”
All this was said with a smug smile.
Numerous family members of the 4 detainees were sitting in the back of the hall. A Prison Service guard tried to impose order in the court, adding to the fraught atmosphere: he terrorized the audience, speaking rudely to the Palestinians [in Hebrew!] and repeatedly ordering people to leave the hall when they tried to speak to their sons, whom they had not seen for many months. The officer’s offensive behavior was particularly galling, but the judge did not intervene (as some judges have been known to do in similar circumstances).
Alaa Abdullah Said Suleiman – ID 852242833–Case 2698/11, 21 years old
Muhammad Kassem Sami Mahmud Arar – ID 853401792– Case 2754/11
Naji Majed Rabhi Arar – ID 853407143– Case 2546/11, 19 years old
Fathi Hamdulla Shiraf Arar – ID 854732617 -Case 2753/11, 17 years old
Since the sides had reached a plea bargain, a revised charge sheet was presented, including two clauses:
-Membership and activity in an unlawful organization (The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine)
-Throwing objects [rocks] at moving traffic.
Alaa Suleiman was not charged with throwing rocks. He was sentenced to 10 months in jail from the day of arrest, plus 12 months suspended sentence and a 2000 shekel fine.
Muhammad Arar was sentenced to 12 months in jail plus 12 months suspended sentence and 2000 shekel fine.
Naji Arar was sentenced to 12 months suspended sentence (including implementation of 60 days of an earlier suspended sentence – altogether 14 months of time served from the day of his arrest, plus 2000 shekel fine.
In Fathi Arar’s case too, the judge implemented an earlier suspended sentence, so he was sentenced to 14 months in jail, plus 12 months suspended sentence for 3 years for the violation of “membership in an unlawful organization,” 18 month suspended sentence for 3 years for throwing rocks and 4000 shekel fine.
The judge had threatened to mete out a harsh judgment and carried out his threat.
Judge: Major Meir Vigiser
Defense: atty. Lymor Goldstein
Defendant: Mustafa Muhammad Yussuf Odeh – ID 976862854 – Case 5406/11, 50 years old, from the village of Wallaje, a psychology lecturer at Bethlehem University.
He was arrested on 13.11.11 during a demonstration in Wallaje, when the villagers tried to stop the widening of the plot on which the separation wall is being built around the village. Mustafa Odeh is accused of pushing an officer to ditch, 2.5-meter deep during a confrontation with the army. As a result, the soldier’s leg was broken.
The defense claimed that there is no evidence that the defendant intentionally shoved the accuser, as attested by a film recording the incident. The attorney also insisted his client is being singled out: another man, arrested with him, had been released, and there were others who were not arrested at all. His client is not a serial protester and just happened to be there by chance…
The judge agreed that the film does not back the prosecution’s version, and that the defendant did not intentionally push the soldier, and fell himself into the ditch.
Still, he determined that the defendant took part in the riots, in the confrontation which caused the fall, and in an unlawful assembly.
In his decision the judge took into account the defendant’s age and the fact that he has no prior convictions for disturbances or violent acts. He imposed partial home arrest on the defendant, allowing him to go to Bethlehem to teach. He also ordered him to deposit 5000 shekels.
At the prosecution’s request, the judge deferred the execution of the verdict to allow for an appeal.
Judge: Major Etty Adar
Prosecutor: Captain Michael Avitan
Defense: Atty. Labib Habib
Defendant: Bassem Muhammad Abd Alrahman Tamimi – ID 959225640 – Case 2058/11
Handbook for Guerilla Warfare
In the dock sits Bassem Tamimi, in the audience the usual crowd of Anarchists Against the Fence, a few European diplomats familiar with the place and the story, Bassem’s wife Nariman with a cousin, and two observers of the MachsomWatch court team.
Again, soldiers who were in the area testify. The prosecutor tries to prove that the protests were not spontaneous, but organized from above. We heard two witnesses for the prosecution. Since it was quite repetitive, I will report only testimony by Witness No. 6, Captain Yoni Greenstein, who explained how a guerilla war is conducted against an occupying army in a small village in the Middle East.
“From an organizational point of view of these things…. There were units that tried to divert my forces [MY FORCES!] to an area of groves below the soccer field and the greenhouses. This is a diversion tactic. As soon as the force arrived, they tried to get our attention. They threw rocks and we advanced toward them into a lower terrain underneath the soccer field… then while throwing rocks, they tried to lure us to the groves, and there some more rock throwers came and pelted us with rocks from the soccer field above… It’s was like a cat and mouse game, where they tried to lure us to different places in the village… We would chase them until dark, and then at night they dispersed to their homes and the whole business was over.”
Prosecutor: What characterizes the cold weapon used by the rioters?
Witness: There were rocks, slingshots made of leather or cloth… also tear gas, mostly unexploded cans of ours… and also rubber-covered iron pellets which are also army issue and are also thrown by slings.
You may infer from the description that the army was there to prevent the march from reaching the settlement of Halamish, but this was not the case. They had other tasks and missions there:
“Another event that occurred not during a demonstration but during a night that I spent inside the village. I was making my way toward an alley that was blocked by two iron trashcans filled with rocks. As I turned around to leave the alley, a group of boys was waiting for me and pelted me with stones and rocks…”
What was the soldier doing there at 1:30 AM? This became clear during the cross-examination by the defense:
Q: Explain the photos you mentioned.
A: We went house to house mapping the inhabitants.
Q: What does that mean?
A: Photographing them, writing down the number of the house and who lives there.
Q: You mean, knock on the door? Go in?
A: Yes, knock on the door. At 1:30 AM!
Q: So how do you make them pose for a photo?
A: Tell the owner of the house to bring in everyone who lives there.
Then we were told that the rock-filled trashcans were burning, that the jeep hit a rock and broke down and it was impossible to get out of that blocked alley. Moreover, there were units and forces and photography teams and seizure of houses and dragging out of people – a veritable instruction manual for guerilla warfare. Toward the end we heard a few sentences that made it clear what popular resistance means:
Q: Those houses you seized, were they seized at the beginning of the operation?
Q: But the protests continued?
Q: Until you ended your stint there… while the protest continued in the same manner?
The trial will resume on 28.11.11.
Translation: Marganit W.
Continuation of the trial of Bassem Tamimi from Nabi Salah village – Case No. 2058/11
Judge: Major Etty Adar
Prosecutor: Captain Michael Avitan
Defense: Atty. Labib Habib
Apart from the defendant’s family, there is a large delegation of Anarchists Against the Fence and various diplomats (from France, Belgium and England). Netanyahu Junior is absent from court today. It falls to Yonatan Pollak to do the spokesperson’s and translator’s jobs.
A Captain from Givati Brigade (?) testifies. He was part of the unit that was sent to control the protest at Nabi Salah, and now shares his experiences with the court.
He describes how the protest started following Friday prayers at the mosque, when the youngsters started hurling rocks, using what the army calls “David’s slings” (slingshots).
The use of the term David’s sling is interesting, since it indicates that the army knows full well who is David and who is Goliath in this story.
The witness was positioned about 50-100 meters from the protesters who numbered about 50. They threw rocks and gas grenades, which the witness claims were IDF unexploded grenades. Several dozen people were standing on the rooftops. A rock hit him in the shin and broke his leg. He was taken to hospital.
The prosecutor presents medical documents. We did not see them, so unfortunately we cannot discuss them. They became quite interesting later. The prosecution rested its case and the defense started the cross-examination.
The soldier reiterated that his leg was broken by the rock, saying dramatically, “the leg simply broke in two,” which I found hard to comprehend. It later transpired that 3 months after the incident the witness returned to the same army base and resumed his activity. He needed several operations, he said, and is still not back to full activity. The defense produced the release papers from the hospital where the soldier describes how he was injured: he twisted his leg and fell while running. Perhaps he fell and then twisted his leg. At any rate, there is no dramatic breaking of the leg into two as a result of being hit by a rock.
-This is what you told the doctors at the hospital?
- No, I did not.
-So they invented this?
-I don’t know.
The defense abandoned this line of interrogation. Apparently, what we had heard so far was sufficient. The witness said nothing about Tamimi’s presence at the demonstration where he, the soldier, was so seriously injured. The attorney told me later, “I deal only with what is relevant to my client’s case. The soldier did not incriminate him.
In this respect, we were just wasting our time.
What about the other witnesses, whose testimony the court has been waiting to hear for more than a month? They did not show up. Investigator Jalal Awida sent word that he was not feeling well today. The court administration contacted Islam Tamimi’s father yesterday and he told them that Islam is taking an exam today, and he himself is working and cannot leave without prior notice.
Then the court discussed administrative matters, dates, future hearings etc.
Next hearing: Wednesday 23.11.11. You can book seats ahead.
Other hearings when witnesses will be summoned: 28.11.11/ 1.12.11.
During an intermission in the hearing I remained in the hall and had a chance to talk to Bassem Tamimi (in detention at Ofer for 8 months now). I asked him about the conditions of his incarceration. There are 10 people in the cell. There is no heating (only blankets). Since March 2011he was allowed only one visit from his family.
Moreover, since the release of Gilad Shalit there has been no easing of the conditions in the detention centers/ prisons. (Conditions were deliberately made harsher BEFORE Shalit’s release). The conditions remained the same.
Translation: Marganit W.
Judge: Major Etty Adar
Prosecutor: Captain Michael Avitan
Defense: Atty. Labib Habib
Defendant: Bassem Tamimi from Nabi Saleh – Case No. 2058/11
Representing the Army Spokesman’s office was Netanyahu Junior, attended by two guards (one in civilian garb)
[See earlier report of Bassem Tamimi’s trial]
Bassem Tamimi’s trial goes on and on at Ofer Military Court. He is accused of organizing demonstrations, instructing villagers how to conduct non-violent protests, blocking the army’s route with garbage cans and other minor violations. These are considered security threats to one of the most aggressive and better-equipped countries in the world.
In this session two police investigators testified: they had interrogated Tamimi following his arrest. They seem to be experienced and savvy, covered with a thick layer of Teflon. They do not remember anything – absolutely nothing. At best they testify “to the best of my recollection…”
The Military Prosecutor went first. He asked: How good is your Arabic. Tell us about the atmosphere during the interrogation. Do you remember anything special from that interrogation?
The witness (police interrogator) replied to all questions with, “I don’t remember any such thing”, whereupon the prosecutor was satisfied and rested his case.
In cross-examination the defense sought to prove that the army had marked Tamimi as an organizer of protests and thus had prepared the case against him even before his arrest.
Bassem Tamimi was interrogated on 24.3.11 but the file shows that evidence against him had been sought three month earlier, on 12.1.11.
This is what the testimony sounded like (with necessary abridgement):
- -Who headed this interrogation?
- -I don’t remember, at that period…
- -Explain how this investigation started.
- -You should address this question to my commander.
- -I see that you interrogated Roy Vanespi. – Do you remember this?
- -I don’t recognize this name.
(The defense tries to jog the forgetful witness’s memory) He is an army photographer.
- -I am not familiar with the name.
- -Do you remember when the order was given to start the investigation in this case?
Thus, most of the 116 questions were answered by “I don’t remember, Maybe, Don’t recall, I no longer remember, I don’t know, I suppose, To the best of my knowledge, I have no recollection of such an event, I don’t think so, etc.”
The second interrogator was also interesting. The prosecutor asked him a routine question: Tell the court how proficient you are in Arabic. Answer: “I have been a policeman for 25 years, and I conduct investigations in Arabic…” He mentioned his formal education. This witness, too, did not remember anything unusual about the interrogation.
Let me cite again the answers provided by this witness: “Don’t remember, I suppose, If I am not mistaken, Can’t recall, Maybe, I don’t know, I think so, I don’t think so, Don’t remember, Not my responsibility, If memory serves….”
These investigators are very cautious, they are well trained, and they do not remember.
Another point: the defendant claims that during some of the demonstrations he is accused of having organized he was absent from the village, having attended a Red Cross training course. The defense asked the testifying interrogator: Did you ask (Tamimi) when the course started?
Answer: We asked him. The defendant said he did not remember. To the best of my knowledge, if there is a record or if attendance was taken, then we could not check his alibi…. He did not even provide us with a phone number.”
He did not provide a phone number! The IDF could not obtain the phone number?!
Question: As an investigator, shouldn’t you check that out?
Answer: Considering that the course took place in the [Occupied] Territories, I cannot check it out. [He cannot check if there was a Red Cross training course on that date!] I think I did the maximum possible.
Q: The Red Cross is not accessible?
A: The Red Cross in the Territories, I don’t know. There was no specific person I could call.
Really? Someone specific?? One wonders, how they obtained the phone number of the Atomic installations in Iran or of the Human Rights Organizations in Larnaca. But to obtain the number of the Red Cross Offices in the Territories??
The other witnesses did not show up. Islam Tamimi did not come; the court administration was unable to establish contact with him. For those who remember how the child Islam first came to this court, this epitomizes the farce that goes under the name of military justice.
The other two witnesses were also, somehow, unavailable.
They will be summoned to the next hearing (16.11.11).
Translation: Marganit W.
I entered Courtroom 3 [Court of Appeals] while an appeal was in progress. I did not have the necessary details and I mention this hearing in case we want to follow up on this case in the future.
The prosecution appealed the acquittal of a Palestinian (about 40 years old) charged with kidnapping and assaulting an Israeli Arab. The man was acquitted because the accuser was abroad and did not report to court despite repeated extensions.
The defendant sat in court with his wife and an interpreter.
The judges suggested rescheduling the trial seven months from today, allowing the prosecution to complete the investigation. The acquittal will be revoked and the defendant will be under house arrest. The deposit will be reduced.
The sides were given two weeks to respond.
In Justice Etty Adar’s court I attended the trial of Bassem Tamimi, ID 959225640 –
Case No. 2058/11from Nabi Salah.
He was arrested at the end of March 2011 and his trial began on June 5 2011.
(the protocol [Hebrew] was forwarded to us by Yonatan Pollak)]
Prosecutor: Atty. Captain Michael Avitan
Defense: Atty. Labib Habib
Prosecution Witness No. 2 (first to testify) is Arnon Yahav, investigator at the Police Intelligence Unit in Judea-Samaria.
The prosecutor asked for confirmation that the interrogation was carried out in a pleasant atmosphere and that the witness had signed the defendant’s statement. The statement was presented to the court. Its content is not detailed in the protocol. Atty. Habib asks the witness why Roy Vanaspi had been interrogated. The witness says he does not remember that investigation. Nor can he explain why he looked at photos taken by Roy Vanaspi [the attorney asks, “So you just looked at the pictures for no reason?” to which the witness replies: “We don’t do things for no reason. I am being paid to do certain things.”]
The defense claims that the investigators started looking at the pictures only after 12.1.11, not before, because it was then that the defendant’s investigation began, and they were looking for testimony that would incriminate him.
The attorney asks if the typist who typed the interrogation was a police plant and that’s why she was present at the interrogation (since the interrogator can enter the data himself), but the witness could not say what the typist’s special functions were.
The defense asks why the interrogator confronted the defendant with Islam’s testimony, who incriminated him, but not with Omar Dar Ayoub who testified that the defendant never incites people to violence. The witness replied that since he did not depose Omar Dar Ayoub, it was not his job to confront the latter’s testimony with the defendant’s [but regarding every other question, the witness said that he relied on information found in the case file – M.M.].
The defense claims that the investigators do not have testimonies by soldiers who were present at the time and saw the defendant commit the crime. The witness says: if such testimonies exist, they should be in the file.
[Judging by the interrogator’s replies it’s strange that he disagrees with the attorney who told him that he described himself (the witness) as “small fry” – M.M.]
Prosecution Witness No. 3 (No. 2 in the witnesses list) is Moshe Madiuni , from the same police intelligence unit.
Again the prosecutor ascertains that the interrogation was conducted according to the rules and the signature on the defendant’s statement was properly obtained.
The witness answers most questions with “I don’t remember if this was included in the file…” The defense focuses on photos, and again the claim is that the interrogators examined the photos of the demonstrations only after Bassem Tamimi’s investigation began, because they were looking for incriminating evidence against him, not because they were tracking rioters.
The attorney points out that seven or eight times the defendant was not present in the village during demonstrations, as he attended a Red Cross course; the witness states that they could not verify the alibi because it is impossible to contact the Red Crescent in the Territories. [Note the “helplessness” of the Security Forces – M.M.]
This witness, too, is asked why the defendant was confronted only with witnesses who incriminated him, and not with those who testified that he did not take part in the demonstrations. The witness replies that it is not his job to be the defendant’s defense. The attorney counters that an investigator’s job is to search for the truth.
The next hearing in Bassem Tamimi’s case is set for Wed. 2.11.11
[It is hard to determine whether the investigators just did not bother to prepare themselves before testifying and did not read the file before going on the witness stand, or they were just feigning ignorance. Either way, they showed disdain and disrespect for their own testimony, a sentiment probably reflecting their self confidence regarding their status in the court – M.M.]
Judge: Major Shlomo Katz
There are 31 cases in the docket covering various charges and at various stages of the legal process: arraignments, reminders, evidentiary, arguments for sentencing.
A third of the defendants have been in custody for at least 10 months (judging by the number of cases bearing the 2010 date).
There was a big commotion in the court: five or six attorneys came and went, relatives were ushered in and out, waiting for their sons’ turn even though some had already been brought in, shackled. Many cases were deferred to a later date, others were summarily processed based on agreements between the sides that were presented to the judge and heard outside the court.
Unit “Lahav 433” arrived: it included civilian prosecutor and defense. They brought 3 defendants. The military court then heard cases of car theft and motor switching perpetrated by Palestinians from the Occupied Territories against Israeli citizens.
In the middle of this mess, the hearing of the evidentiary trial of Mawiya Taisir Yassin Natshe (Case No. 4260/10) took place. He is represented by Atty. Muhammad Jabarin. Mawiya has been in detention for 14 months charged with several violations: membership in an unlawful organization (Hamas), attempts to collect money to buy arms and to carry out suicide attacks, in collusion with another Hamas operative. The prosecution claims that he tried to go to Jordan for training, but his plan was foiled when he was arrested.
The judge “sees justification” for the acceptance of a plea bargain: there are evidentiary difficulties. In other words – which are clear to everybody – there is no proof for the allegations, at least not beyond reasonable doubt.
We are used to the court finding a solution to this common problem of insufficient evidence.
After 14 months in custody, the defendant is ready to accept a revised charge sheet, and he is sentenced even when there is no convincing proof for his culpability.
The sentence: 28 months (i.e. 14 additional months) and a 6000 shekel fine.
Translation: Marganit W.
Summed up briefly: there was no trial.
Judge: Etty Adar
Prosecutor: Michael Avitan
Defense: Labib Habib – NOT PRESENT
We came to watch the trial of Bassam Tamimi from Nabi Salah who is accused of organizing demonstrations in his village against the separation fence. At the entrance, Yonatan Polack informed us that Atty. Habib could not show up because his car broke down. Bassam, however, was going to be in court. Bassam’s wife, Nariman and his aunt were present, as well as a group of Anarchist Against the Fence, who has been following this trial all along, and a few foreign diplomats. According to the draconic – and racist – rules that obtain in this court, a group of 10 people may attend the trial, but they must be Jewish or foreign; of the defendant’s family only 2 persons may attend. So this was the composition of the court today, plus a GSS investigator sitting next to the prosecutor.
There was no hearing, of course; it was set for next Sunday, 11.9.11.
4 witnesses will testify, all of them members of Tamimi’s family. Bassam’s wife told us that he has already been detained for about 6 months and during this period she has visited him only once. She has a permit to come one more time. And then? Either he’ll be released or she will have to apply for another permit.
Next to the gate we saw an Al-Jazeera van. They came to cover the trial of Samer Allawi.
For details see
- text in The 7th Eye http://www.the7eye.org.il/articles/Pages/050911_Natural_connection_to_any_journalist.aspx (Hebr.)
The photographer stood outside with his camera, in an open, exposed area where hundreds of Palestinians, to their chagrin, gather every day. Perhaps he was taking pictures and maybe he just wanted taking pictures; but the sight of the camera immediately brought out the soldier, who normally sits behind a dark glass window. He quickly crossed four electric doors and the turnstile, demanding that the photographer put away his camera; he took the latter’s ID card and went to get instructions.
Allawi’s family was standing outside the gate and was not allowed to enter because of the incident with the photographer, who had nothing whatsoever to do with them, but since they all came to see the same person, military logic dictates that they should not be admitted.
When we came out of the compound we realized that the Al Jazeera crew had not been allowed in because they had not coordinated their visit with the army spokesman, but Alawi’s attorney, Salim Wakim, was being interview by the crew. It turns out that Allawi himself did not show up in court because for a week now he has been barred from meeting with his attorney; he had been interrogated under threats and was told that if he did not cooperate, he would be put under administrative detention.
So what did we have today? One non-hearing re Bassam Tamimi, to which the defense attorney did not show up, and another non-hearing, in which the defendant, Allawi, did not appear.