Ofer - Plea Bargain, Release on Bail
Translation: Marganit W.
Judge: Kamal Zahar A-din
There are 37 files in the docket, almost all of “memorandum” variety, which means that the attorneys ask for a postponement of the sentencing or for “arraignment”, where the accused is asked if he understands the charges and admits to them; then a date is set for further hearing where both sides will plead. Still, the hearings we attended ended with sentencing.
By the time we left – 12:30 – the judge had dealt with 5 cases.
The judge speaks softly in Arabic when addressing the accused and their attorneys. Sadly, we were unable to hear most of what was said.
Ibrahim Muhammad Ibrahim Alhamour – ID 41159639
Ibrahim is 23 years old and lives in Dahaisha Refugee Camp.
Until his arrest he worked in a restaurant in Bethlehem and studied health administration at the Open Al Quds University.
He was arrested on 5.7.17 – a year and a half ago – but he has a prior record from 2013 and spent two and a half years in prison for another violation.
Charge: manufacturing and throwing incendiary objects.
Defense: Atty. Muhammad Shaheen.
Ibrahim’s sad mother was in court and he tried to cheer her up.
The indictment included many clauses from 2016 and 2017: throwing fire bombs at an army post and at Israeli vehicles, throwing rocks at security forces during, what in court parlance is called, “disturbances”. In addition he plotted with others to shoot at Israeli vehicles.
This long list contains no mention of dates and locations and raises the question: how was his admission obtained, who provided the information, and how was he pressured to sign such a confession. The answer is in the method of interrogation and in incriminations.
Others were interrogated, too, and Ibrahim’s mother told us that one of his friends had already been sentenced to 11 months.
In the plea bargain Ibrahim was sentenced to five and a half years - which is standard, and since he already has probation from a previous trial, he was sentenced in addition to 18 months probation for 3 years.
These sentences are systematic and tendentious – their aim is to disintegrate Palestinian society. The family’s livelihood suffers tremendously, other members of the family cannot obtain permits to enter and work in Israel, and since most defendants are very young, their education and their chances to advance in life are greatly affected.
All the other defendants today were represented by Atty. Muhammad Shaheen. The arrests and the charges were the same - throwing rocks and firebombs – and they were each sentenced to six or seven months plus fines.
There was one exception:
Yussuf Awad Muhammad Awad – ID 404787830
Defense: Atty. Ghassan Abed Al Hadi
Yussuf Awad has been released on bail and came from home. His father is a swimming pool contractor who builds pools all over Israel. He recommended swimming, especially in summer, and described the pool in his own yard.
We agreed that swimming is a fine activity, but these days, in this season, water for domestic consumption for Palestinians in the occupied territories come from cisterns on the roofs. Palestinians pay dearly for this water, which by right belong to the Palestinians as it comes from the aquifer on the mountains, which is the only water reservoir in the West Bank; but Israel gives the water to the Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.
But Yussuf’s case has nothing to do with water.
In 2014 he was involved in a family feud. The indictment includes a dramatic scene where Yussuf hid in the bushes and shot at a rival family member (which his father claims comes from a family of collaborators and in fact lives in Ramleh and not in the village).
Thus, the military court reflects the various aspects of the occupation: water, livelihood, collaborators, family feuds, and the long arm of the military courts interferes with all these aspects and wrecks private lives.
At the end of the hearing Yussuf Awad went home with his father, without punishment or fine.