Ofer - Minors, Remand Extension
Translation: Marganit W.
Conversations in the yard
Quite often the remand extension hearings are conducted like a conveyor belt: the defense attorneys ask for postponements (so they can negotiate with the prosecution for a plea bargain). We are not allowed to report on hearings of underage detainees. So instead we sit outside and have long chats with family members who have come to attend the hearings.
We hear first hand about nightly raids by the army, that always include turning the house upside down [We are often asked: why are they doing it?], about kids arrested near their school after the soldiers have arrived there to create a provocation, about nostalgia for the days before the building of the separation wall, when Palestinians could still work in Israel or just go for a visit.
When we talk to Palestinians from the camps of Jilasoun or Daheishe, we inquire from where their families were expelled in 1948.
Quite often the families ask for our help: they want us to attend the hearings, perhaps talk to the judge. In fact, the Palestinians know full well that we can’t really do anything, but there is always some expectation: after all we are Israelis (and we can’t forget for a moment that we are part of the oppressing side of the equation). It is sad to note the Palestinians’ hope against hope that the court will realize that the allegations are trumped up, that the kid would be allowed to go back to school, that the man was only trying to earn a living to support his family: a hope that the court will not rescind the work permit of a detainee – after all this is a court of justice!
We encounter new situation every day. For example, today we met a mother who had been waiting for her son’s hearing since morning. When we left at five, she was still waiting. Her hand was bandaged and in a sling. She explained that the previous day she had slipped on broken glass at home, was taken to hospital and underwent surgery. And yet she insisted on being released from hospital so she could come to court: her son was arrested a week ago and she had to see him. She was in great pain, but of course she was not allowed to bring her painkillers into court.
It is always heartwarming to see the love that these families pour for their detained loved ones when they see them in court. They always show up, barely listen to the prosecution’s charges, trying only to glean some information from their loved ones about the condition of their detention.
The family members are quickly ushered out of the court because, “This is not a visit!” – but for them this is definitely a substitute for a visit, especially since many Palestinians are refused permission to visit the prisons.