Ofer - Appeal, Interrogation of Witness
Translation: Marganit W.
Ofer Military Court 25.8.19
Vivy Sury, Nitza Aminov (reporting)
On 25.4.18 Ofer Ohana (a settler from Kiryat Arba) was driving along Rte.60. When he reached the agricultural college in Al-Aroub, he decided that rocks had been thrown at his vehicle, so he stopped, entered the campus and started yelling, cursing and demanding arrests. In addition, he approached female students and took photos of them.
One of the students, Ibtihal Abrioush told him to stop taking pictures, and at one point, when he would not comply, she threw a rock that hit him in the shoulder. He was not injured and did not require medical attention. Soldiers arrived, took away Ohana – who later lodged a complaint with the police, but there was no investigation of what he had done (a fact that the prosecution, too, brought up). The soldiers arrested Ibtihal and she was charged with an attempt to cause severe bodily harm.
Atty Akram Samara conducted an evidentiary trial in front of Judge Major Sebastian Osovsky. Eventually, Ibtihal was convicted of an attempted serious bodily harm and was sentenced to 4 month in prison, starting on the day of arrest.
The judge stressed that “the accused was not motivated by ideological or national reason”
(emphasis in the original protocol of the verdict), since it was proven that she did not take part in the disturbances [demonstrations] and was not active in any unlawful organization”.
Ibtihal Abrioush was released from prison on 25.8.18.
To our great surprise, we saw her and her parents in the courtyard. It transpires that the prosecution appealed the verdict – a year after her release from prison. The main argument in the appeal referred to Judge Osovsky’s assertion that she was not motivated by ideology and that he saw the incident as an dispute between people. Thus, the prosecution deemed the punishment inappropriate. They also had reservation about the report which was very sympathetic.
After the first hearing the family had to post a 4000-shekel bail.
Today the judge was Lieut.-Col. Yair Tirosh.
In his decision the judge stated that the appellate court should not interfere in the penalty. He rejected the appeal.
In addition, he ordered a reimbursement of the bail money.
It is hard to imagine the relief and the joy that Ibtihal and her parents felt. It is equally hard to imagine the fear and anxiety they experienced when they heard of the appeal.
Today was the beginning of the school year in Palestine. Until the judge read his decision, Ibtihal had not been not sure she could continue her studies.
Another exciting thing happened today, at the hearing of Osama Fakhouri (remand extension until 1.9.19):
his mother, Lama Hater and Osama's sister came to the hearing. Lama and Ibtihal met when they were both imprisoned at Damoun Prison. They were very moved to see each other in court.
As for the viciousness in the title: how heartless it is to appeal a decision a year after the release – it is meanness masquerading as legal process.