Ofer - Barred (from meeting with attorney), Fines
Translation: Marganit W.
Salah Hawaja, activist in non-violent resistance organizations – plea bargain, as is always the case in the military court
Salah Hawaja, a leader of “Stop the Fence” campaign and member of the board of the Palestinian BDS movement, is considered a threat because he advocates for non-violent popular resistance. He has been arrested many times and spent 5 years in prison between 1992-1997.
This time he was arrested on 26.10.16, was interrogated and tortured by the SHABAK [GSS], and was barred from meeting with attorney.
The prosecution claims that in May 2016 he sent someone to Jordan to meet with members of a hostile organization. His defense, Atty. Leah Tsemel, stated that it may have been a hostile organization, but according to the court’s definition, there is no way of knowing which organization was involved.
A plea bargain was entered, she added, “because we could not supply a convincing or complete explanation for the event described in the indictment.”
The judge, Lieut.-Col. Menahem Lieberman opined that the defendant was supposed to know that the Jordanians were representatives of a hostile organization and therefore should have avoided all contact with them. However, since the defendant has no prior record, the judge assumed that he was a law-abiding citizen and the violation was a one-time slip.
Sentence: 12 and half months in prison starting with the day of arrest.
6 months suspended sentence for 3 years for the same offence or for bringing enemy money into the region.
Monetary fine of 5000 shekels.
In a previous hearing Atty. Tsemel pointed out faults in the indictment, but as mentioned earlier, an evidentiary trial would have dragged indefinitely, so a plea bargain was entered.
In the courtyards we met a Palestinian from Dura who came for the hearing of his detained son. He asked us what was the penalty for staying illegally in Israel. He explained that if he could find work in Israel, the risk of arrest would be worthwhile. Palestinians who heard our conversation told him what the penalty was.
Another Palestinian asked us to find out when his son’s hearing was scheduled to take place. He had arrived very early and needed to take his wife for dialysis treatment. Sadly, we had to tell him that we are unable to make inquiries and give him an answer.
This is Ofer: you get there in the morning and nobody but assumes that Palestinians have lives outside the court.