Ofer - Stone Throwing, Women
Translation: Marganit W.
Judge: Major Zvi Heilbronn
Prosecutor: Michael Avitan
The following is what we were able to glean from a hectic and long day in Zvi Heilbronn’s courtroom. It was a maelstrom of lawyers coming and going, soldiers bringing in files, a succession of typists, security guards and defendants – all making it difficult to follow and process what was going on. There were hardly any “security” cases in the docket, only civilian violations, which underline the control the army has over civilian life in the West Bank.
Atty. Daud Azi represented two men suspected of theft. This is a bizarre story. The two were working at a gas station in Maale Adomim. They had an agreement with the owner, that when they were short of money, he’d give them an advance and they’d sign with the accountant, Sara Zelig, that the sum would be docked from their next salary.
Then, suddenly, one day, the owner discovered that 160,000 shekels were missing from the till. Just like that, hundred and sixty thousand shekels vanished. The two workers were arrested and interrogated. They are released on bail and their trial is set for 7.3.11.
Anas Muhammad Zeitun Halaika
Defense: Atty. Mahmud Hassan
The next defendant presents a heartbreaking case, even for those familiar with and inured to the workings of the military courts and their ‘pursuit of justice’. It was not clear what the charges against Anas were. There’s a suspended sentence against him because he attended a commanders’ course and was involved in an Internet site of Kutla Isslamiya (a students’ organization). On this cold day, he was brought in, pale and sock-less, wearing plastic sandals and shackled. I can only imagine what his state of mind was. It was very hard to watch him. There was a short exchange between the judge and Atty. Mahmud Hassan, and then the defendant was handcuffed and taken out, but not before his mother and his aunt were ushered in. They were visibly shocked to see him and tried to cheer him up: You’re OK, you’re fine, I am with you, etc. This only exacerbated his situation and he burst out crying, covering his face with his hands. He was unable to talk. The women continued trying to encourage him. The attorney looked on helplessly. The boy looked at his mother pleadingly as she tried to hearten him, tears in her eyes. The guard handcuffed him and took him out.
The next hearing was set for 31.1.11
Muhammad Hashem Jabari
Defense: Atty. Nasser Nubani.
This is a case of a civilian involved in a traffic violation. Apparently under the influence of drugs, he drove a Honda while being drunk, without a license, exceeding the speed limit on the road to Jericho and the Dead Sea. He was stopped at one of the checkpoints, whereupon he turned around and fled. Later, he was stopped at Almog Checkpoint and fled again. The policemen fired in the air and hit the tires… as usual… The chase took half the night, during which time he broke all possible traffic regulations.
After much deliberation, Jabari accepted all the charges and was sentenced to 6 months in jail, 3 months suspension and 1000 shekel fine. All this is totally irrelevant. Why is he tried in a military court? What’s military about this case?
Defense: Atty. Haled Alaraj
Aduan is accused of participation in parades and rallies in 2006 and of hanging pictures of Hamas candidates in the election. In 2008, following a demonstration against the fence, he joined others who were throwing a Molotov cocktail. He was not the one throwing the bottle at the watchtower [the famous ‘pillbox’]. The bottle hit the fence near the tower but there was no damage. The youngsters fled the site and the soldiers chased them and shot at them.
Charges: membership in an unlawful association (in 2006!) and throwing an incendiary object (which he did not throw). There is a plea bargain.
Sentence: 20 months in jail, 5 months suspended sentence or 5000 shekels fine.
Hanan Ahmad Ali – Case no. 4238/10
Defense: Atty. Muhammad Shaheen
We got her name from the Committee for (female) Political Prisoners with a request to observe her trial. However, the hearing did not take place because it was too late in the afternoon. I heard from a reliable source that Hanan had run away from home because of personal reasons and arrived at the checkpoint with a knife. We are familiar with such situations. She was arrested at the checkpoint and taken into custody. Her mother sat in the audience, looking very old and stressed: she just sat motionless in her seat. A son, a boy of about 16 was there too.
The judge explained to Hanan that her hearing would not take place today, and asked if she had anything to say. She asked to hug her son. The request caused an uproar [What? Hugging in court??] The judge told the guard to phone Swissa who apparently instructed to take Hanan out. So she was taken out without having hugged her son.
We reported the incident to the Committee for Political Prisoners.
Muhammad Ahmad Deeb Nafa
Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati
The defendant, a resident of Ni’lin, is accused of throwing rocks during a demonstration against the Separation Fence. During the session Atty. Ramti examined a witness, Prisoner Muhammad Srur. Both are from the same village.
The usual cat-and-mouse game ensued: Why are you denying here what you told the police? I refer you to your statement. Why did you give the GSS another version? So did you or did you not see him? Did you quarrel with him or not?
One uncomfortable fact was clear: the witness did not sign his statement to the police; the signature is that of the investigator. Thus, he could not be asked: why did you sign it? I mean, they did ask but he said: This is not my signature.
It was getting late, and so I went back to the car. Someone asked for the time, and I said 4 PM, which reminded me of a poem:
Four in the afternoon, it’s still hot
In the avenue babies are learning to walk
Evening breeze frolics, bringing to my porch
The scent of hay, Alfalfa and some respite too.
I would like to tell the judges, the prosecutors, the guards and the clerks, that the Palestinians too would like to describe their afternoons in such terms. When this happens, they won’t throw Molotov cocktails at army watchtowers.
The trial will continue on 28.2.11.