Ofer - Stone Throwing, Minors
Translation: Marganit W.
Judge: Major Sharon Rivlin-Ahai
There were 23 minors in the docket in today's arraignment hearing. According to the legal definition in Israel, a minor is a person under 18 years of age, but this definition does not apply in the military courts where Palestinian residents of the occupied territories are tried: their children cease to be minors at 16.
Most charges against the boys were identical or similar: "throwing objects". Some threw stones, others incendiary objects, sometimes at passing vehicles, sometimes at a parked military jeep. Some defendants were repeat offenders in the last couple of months or even years, others were implicated in single incidents (throwing two rocks at a demonstration…).
Most charges are based on incriminations by other kids, who during their investigation inform against each other *.Thus, with great ease, the prosecution is provided with evidence. With equal facility, the prosecution and the defense reach an agreement to drop a charge or two from the indictment. Quite often, boys who at first deny the allegations, after some time in custody, accept some of the charges and end up being sentenced to the usual 3-4 months in jail, plus suspended sentence and a fine of between several hundred and several thousand shekels.
For the first time I heard a judge referring to these mutual incriminations of the kids. It was as if she heard of this phenomenon for the first time. Four boys, all represented by Atty. Muhammad Mahmud, testified against each other. The judge found fault with the fact that they were all represented by the same attorney and demanded separate representation for each of them. Dates were set for hearings in which each
boy will have a different attorney.
One boy, released on bail and represented by Atty. Iyad Misk, was accompanied by his father. The boy, Salah Amad Abu Shrar, ID 401125141 - Case No.3837/10 - is accused of throwing 2 rocks in August this year. The father objected to a plea bargain offered in September, and stated categorically, "He is in my custody and I know that he did not participate in rock throwing. My son needs to go to school. Let an innocent man do what he has to do. I can't come to court anymore and lose a whole day's
The judge responded that there are charges against the son and she has to listen to the witnesses. She suggested the boy go to school in the morning, and the hearing will take place in the afternoon, when the main witness will testify.
Hearing was set for 6.1.11 in the afternoon.
By lunch break 21 defendants had been heard. Only one, released on bail
and accused of throwing rocks during a demonstration in 2008, received a 8-months sentence (to coincide with time served in detention), 500 shekel fine and 4 months suspended sentence for 3 years. The boy is sixteen years old. He was probably 14 when he was arrested.
The other defendants were assigned later hearing dates . Here are some of them, for follow-up:
Muhammad Jalab Muhammad Ayad, ID 859233298 - Case No. 4702/10, 15 years of age. Hearing set for 6.12.10.
Muhammad Tarek Abed Allatif Omar, ID 401471982 - Case No. 3905/10, age 13
(but looking about 8) from Beit Ur-Altahta. Hearing is set for for 6.12.10.
After a brief conversation with the parents I saw fit to inform the Committee Against Torture so they can investigate the circumstances of his arrest.
Muhammad Rajeb Albasheeti, ID401906912 - Case No. 4704/10. 15 years old.
Hearing set for Monday 27.12.10 at 11 AM.
Yazan Jamal Atallah, ID 401363072 - Case No.4700/10, 14 years old.
Hearing set for 27.12.10.
Salah Aaid Hasin Abu Ghosh, ID 854593563 - Case No. 2874/10. Hearing set for 27.12.10. The defendant denies all the charges, which include membership and activity in an armed unit.
Two boys represented by Atty Safiya will have their hearings on 20.12.10.
They deny the charges against them.
*For a description of the detention and interrogation of Palestinian kids observed in the Military Courts see Ofra Ben Artzi's article in "Left Bank" -
"On the hunting of Palestinian children and re-education at the Ofer prison" –
by Ofra Ben Artzi - 30.11.10":
as well as two articles in "Haaretz" about Palestinian Minors (1.12.10)
-"Childcare experts condemn police treatment of Palestinian stone-throwers " –
by Avi Issacharoff:
-"Interrogation of Palestinian teens was illegal, court rules" -
by Yaniv Kubovich: