Ofer - Interrogation of Witness, Membership/activity in unauthorized association
Translation: Marganit W.
“We know we’ll see him for only five minutes.”
It was a cold and rainy day: the families huddled in the canteen. They told me how difficult it was to get here, how early they had to leave, but added: never mind the effort, at least we can see him for five minutes. Many have no permits to visit the prison, so the court hearing is the only chance to see their loved ones.
Close to five o’clock, when I was sitting in a courtroom, two parents (who went from hall to hall trying to locate their son’s hearing) came in. They were told to wait. The couple told me that after 7 PM, traffic is very limited and they were not sure how to get home. But they waited anyway. I left at 5, while they were still waiting,
I have written before about the Qatari Charity.
(See earlier report).
This is a charitable organization based in Ramallah that deals with education, solar panels etc. Five of its employees have been in detention for a year. The claim is that it is a proscribed organization bringing in enemy money.
Among the detainees is Najwan Odeh, the secretary of the organization.
Atty. Jawad Boulos had represented Ms. Odeh before. Now there were negotiations to reach an agreement. Israel must be under the impression that Qatar will pay any amount, so the prosecution demands 1,2000,000 shekels for each detainee. (No, there is no mistake in the number). Such a bargain is unconscionable. So now comes the evidentiary hearing.
The judge in Najwan Odeh’s hearing was Sgt. Major Balilti;
the defense: Atty. Jawad Boulos and Arwa Khalihal.
The first witness for the prosecution was the policeman who took the statement. He did not even know the full name of the charity organization and when it was declared a hostile organization. The witness confessed that he had received the material beforehand (i.e., from the Shabak) and read it to the detainee. Then he wrote down the statement, which is common practice.
Three more investigators were supposed to testify, but it was not clear they would show up, so the hearing concluded and the next one was set for 16.1.17.
Hifaa Abu Sabih from Hebron has been in Damon Prison for a year.
I have written about this impressive woman before. She is 37 years old, mother of six – the youngest child is 3. She is headmistress of a private school in Hebron, head of kindergarten and school workers’ union in Hebron, member of the board of the Democracy Center in Ramallah and an international instructor of human resources development.
Hifaa was arrested in her home in Hebron on 14.12.15.
Here too the judge was Haim Balilti.
She was represented by Atty. Haled Al-Araj.
Hifaa is accused of membership and activity in an unlawful organization.
The defense said he was negotiating a plea bargain, so the next hearing was set for 1.2.17.
The attorney explained to Hifaa what happens during a plea bargain negotiation. The haggling is meant to reduce the charges in the indictment. Hifaa said she did not know what the charges were because she had not received the indictment in Arabic. The judge looked embarrassed at this information and ordered to provide her with an indictment in Arabic right away.
At five I left, driving to my well heated home. Several families remained in the courtyard, waiting to catch a glimpse of their loved ones, even if for only 5 minutes.