Ofer - Stone Throwing, Holding and trading of combat materiel
Translation: Marganit W.
Judge: Major Etty Adar
Prosecutor: Captain Odelia Amos
Defense: Attorney Gaby Lasky
Defendant: Abdullah Abu Rahma, ID 007446703 - Case No. 5327/10, resident of Bil'in.
Abdullah Abu Rahma, an activist in the struggle against the Bil'in Separation Fence
has been detained since 10.12.09.
For background on his present and previous detentions see MW website (the latest reports are from his 14.4.10 trial, with references to 21.4.10. 5.5.10 and 12.5.10).
Today's session covers the interrogation of the witnesses for the defense.
Until noon, three witnesses testified: Member of Knesset Dov Khenin, Dr. Gershon Baskin and Dr. Ratab Mahmud Abu Rahma, the defendant's brother.
The witnesses were asked identical questions by the defense; in their replies each witness described how and under what circumstances they came to know the defendant, whether they participated in the Friday demonstrations in Bil'in, whether they saw Abdullah hurl rocks at the army, incite others to throw rocks, possess arms or participate in the Fence Committee. These are the charges against him.
Here's a summary of the witnesses' testimonies:
Dov Khenin: Knew Abdullah as a participant in the struggle against the Separation Wall in Bil'in. Khenin described the demonstrations and the principle of non-violence that inspires the activists. He remembered Abdullah from the first demonstrations but had not seen him there in recent years. He had never seen him throw rocks. He testified that the demonstrations he took part in were all peaceful; where rocks were thrown, it was when the demonstrators approached the fence and were pelted with tear gas and rubber bullets. In response, the demonstrators dispersed and in some cases youngsters hurled rocks at the soldiers. Khenin was not familiar with an agency called "The Fence Committee" and had never seen weapons in Abdullah's house, nor at a display in the village. However, he had seen much ammunition that had been fired at the demonstrators over the years, stored as 'mementoes' in many schools.
In response to the prosecutor's questions, Khenin repeated that the demonstrations he participated in were peaceful; it was the army that introduced violence. He stated, "I am ashamed of what the state does in Bil'in."
In response to the judge's question he reiterated that rock throwing occurred typically at the end of the demonstrations, in response to tear gas which caused the protesters to disperse, whereupon each demonstrator acted independently.
Gershon Baskin first met Abdullah, a Latin teacher in Bir-Zeit, in 1944, when the latter took part in the project "Education for Peace" run by Baskin. When the second Intifada broke out, many in the Palestinian schools abandoned the project. But bdullah persisted, because he valued the cooperation with Israeli teachers.
In response to the prosecutor's question, Baskin said that he had seen weapons in some houses in Bil'in, but not in Abdullah's house.
He stated that he did not know the name of the group that organizes the demonstrations in Bil'in and is not aware of any official position that Abdullah holds in such organization. Since Abdullah is a respectable leader in the village, he used to introduce him to people who came to hear about the resistance to the fence and about the Supreme Court's decision concerning the change in the route of the fence. In those encounters, Abdullah was often asked about rock throwing, and his answer was that children usually throw those rocks at the end of the demonstrations, after the adults had left. They do it, he explained, out of frustration and a wish to see 'some action'. Baskin himself does not take part in the demonstration because of his other activities.
Ratab Mahmud Abu Rahma, Ph.D in educational psychology, lecturer at the Open University in Jericho and Ramallah. He testified in Arabic. In response to the Defense's questions, he testified that during a demonstration in Bil'in on 17.6.05, he was shot and was injured in the leg. Soon afterward, he was arrested together with his brother Abdullah, and charged with throwing rocks. In the trial that followed the arrest, the testimony of the Border Police officer who had shot Ratab and claimed he had seen him throwing rocks, was shown to be false. The officer admitted he had lied and was charged with perjury.
Atty. Lasky saw a connection between the 2005 trial and this one. Her defense is that for the prosecution the Bil'in demonstrations themselves (which have no license) are illegal, and that participation in them constitutes part of the main charge. Thus, the prosecution does not refer to specific dates, and does not specify the demonstration in which Abdullah is supposed to have committed the felony, but talks about a period of more than 4 years (between June 2005 and December 2009). The defense claims that Abdullah had not taken part in demonstrations since his arrest with his brother in 2005. The prosecution - says the defense - is basing its case on that same false testimony of the BP officer, whose trial is still pending.
Ratab later testified that the demonstrations were all peaceful. Abdullah would not have brought along his little girls, had they been violent.
He said: There is no Popular Committee and no Fence Committee. There is only a village committee, nominated by the villagers to take care of the village and the fence.
Ratab himself was never a member of a committee. Abdullah was once a member. Like many other villagers, Abdullah has land behind the fence and thus suffers from its construction and takes part in the struggle.
Ratab added that there is strong resemblance between him and his brother and people often confuse them. When they were arrested in 2005, it was not clear "if I am he or he is me".
In response to the prosecution, Ratab stated that Abdullah had never thrown rocks, nor incited anyone. This would be contrary to his character and upbringing. He could not figure out why anyone would want to incriminate him, perhaps out of envy, since he is greatly respected.
In response to the judge, Ratab detailed his participation in the demonstrations between 2005 and 2009. He explained once more that the village committee deals with the legal and PR aspects of the resistance to the fence. There is no agency organizing the demonstrations: villagers. Israelis and internationals go out to protest.
After the intermission, Atty. Lasky told the court that another witness on her list would not arrive, thus she rested her case.
The prosecution wanted to summon a 'refutation witness' to disprove the main defense claim that Abdullah did not take part in demonstrations since 2005.
The defense objected and the court moved for the defense.