Ofer - Release on Bail, Stone Throwing
Translation: Tal Haran
Judge: Major Samzar Shagoug
Prosecutor: Police senior sergeant major Rafi Sabag (plain clothes)
Defense attorney: Att. Firas Sabah, on behalf of Att. Lea Tsemel
Remand extension of Suleiman Eid Yamin Hadalin, ID 916285752,
Case no. 3508/13.
He is suspected of threatening settlers. The number of settlers was not mentioned, but the protocol shows he has been convicted for threats. This is either negligence on the part of the court, or else he has a previous conviction. We shall look into this later.
As for the suspicion – anyone would find this ludicrous. The man is about 50-60 years old, his hair white and disheveled, he is short and thin and looks very out of place on the dock. The mere thought that such a person would THREATEN!! Settlers? You should have seen him. How could he, this poor old shepherd, threaten them? By hitting them? Killing them?? Or perhaps by taking their land and sheep and blow up their cisterns and poison their fields and set his dogs on them? Cut down their olive trees perhaps, or destroy the turbine that supplies them with electricity?
The police investigator (why is a police investigator appearing at a military court?) began by making the dubious request of releasing the suspect on bail of 1000 NIS. Why? Because he, the suspect, lives “in some hovel near Yatta and the bail is needed to ensure his showing up at court”. AndI, who see aerial photos of the Iranian nuclear reactor in the press every day, wonder: you managed to locate the Iranian reactor, and would possibly miss a shepherd living near Yatta? What is this nonsense?
The defense said that the suspect has no money and he requests unconditional release. Then Suleiman Hadalin rose, waved his arm and spoke. The interpreter did not manage to keep up his translation, so the judge - a fluent Arabic speaker, it is apparently his mother-tongue – took charge of the discussion himself, asked questions and translated the answers. And so it goes:
Suleiman has 18 children (judging by his own age, most of them are long past childhood), he has a few sheep and grazes them. He has purchased his land, owns it. The settlers, he said, want to steal our lands. They threatened me, not vice versa. I have no money to pay bail. We are hungry. We eat only bread at home. As for the threat – he said he did not threaten the settlers but told them he would rather have them slaughter him than take his land.
Alright, the picture is clear and no news to us, unfortunately.
The judge chose compromise and ruled bail to amount to 500 NIS. Two days later, namely on Thursday, June 20th, a bail check session would be held, meaning checking again whether the suspect can pay the sum. But there was no need fort it, because on Saturday I inquired with Lea Tsemel and she told me Ta’ayush had put up the sum and the man is back home for the time being, until the next time he must report to the Hebron police station on 18.8.13.
I suggest to Ta’ayush and all the other organizations and good people who hasten to pay bail and fines imposed upon Palestinians: don’t do it. You are financing the Occupation and its maintenance. If you have money to spare, give it directly to the families to make do while their loved one is imprisoned, so this money would not end up in the army’s coffers.
Abdallah Yasser Mohammad Shawamrah, ID 941675712
Defense attorney: Att. Ahmad Safiyeh
It is a very thick file held in the hands of the defense attorney, and the entire story is long and twisted, just the thing for patient fans of detective comedies.
The two plaintiffs, answering to the delicate names of Idan and Almog, took a car, perhaps on loan from a friend, or rented – the versions keep changing, and proceeded to drive from Eilat to Haifa in order to pick up the daughters of one of them. On the way, according to one version, they met two Palestinian from the Occupied Territories. According to another version, they drove to Hebron to meet one of these Palestinians familiar to one of the plaintiffs, because they had befriended each other in jail (the girls, let us recall, are waiting in Haifa). They then proceeded together. At a certain point on the way, Idan and Almog got out of the car (to relieve themselves, as the court put it) and left the two Palestinians inside the car.
Idan and Almog gave several police statements, while Shawamrah gave a single one and he has stuck to it. In one of the statements, the two Jews claimed the Palestinians attacked them. In one version they claim the Palestinians even fired at them and took their car. (For that, they were arrested and one of them, Abdallah Shawamrah, is in custody at present).
According to Shawamrah’s version, Idan and Almog picked them up in order to mediate between them and the anonymous buyer who has not been located to date. His name – Sufian – is known as well as his telephone number, but the prosecutor says there is no man by that name.
In this story there are two Jews, another Palestinian who is claimed to be the buyer who purchased their car for 6000 NIS, a rent-a-car firm that might not even exist, another friend from Eilat who may or may not have loaned them his car, and two daughters, who may or may not exist, waiting for their father in Haifa, policemen who showed up immediately and arrested Shawamrah, and numerous version changes that ended up in “I don’t remember”. They – Idan and Almog – do not even recall whether they crossed a checkpoint on their way to Hebron. The military prosecutor said Idan and Almog were arrested, questioned under caution, and there is no intention of prosecuting them.
The judge asked: have you tried to find out whether Idan and Almog went to the car rental agency in order to rent the car?
Yes, the prosecution checked but the answer was not given in court. The defense claims that the two Jews simply rented the car and intended to claim it was stolen from them, sell it and take the money.
Well, the judge realized this is an embarrassing story and the ruling about remand extension was supposed to be made on 24.6.13.
We were in Ofer, looked for Shawamrah and for the judge, but did not find either one. But for the political context of this story, it could have made for a good detective comedy. But only one side would be laughing. Perhaps we shall still try to get the protocol of the judge’s ruling.
In the court of Major Hilit Bar-On, Attorney Al-Araj was the defense counsel in most sessions, and he requested postponement until after the Ramadan (that begins on July 9thand ends on August 8thwith the Eid Al Fitr holiday).
Ismail Najeeb Ibrahim Faraj, ID 85119924
Defense: Att. Al-Araj
The corrected indictment under a plea bargain consists of three charges:
The first includes three violations: membership and activity in an unlawful association; membership and activity in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; membership in a team with four others for the purpose of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. The second charge was throwing objects at a moving vehicle in February 2011 inside Deheishe refugee camp (Ismail’s place of residence).
According to the third charge, in March 2011 he met a friend late at night, and when army jeeps passed by, he hurled a Molotov cocktail at them.
During the arguments for sentencing, the scale of punishment is discussed relative to the sentences given other witnesses.
The judge addresses the defendant and asks about his age (he is 21 years old) and occupation – Ismail Faraj is a law student at Al Quds University.
The judge accepts the plea bargain and sentences him to 23 months in prison (he was arrested at the end of 2011), 10 months suspended sentence for 4 years, and a 3000 NIS fine or 3 months in prison.
The family members present in court were very glad with the outcome of the trial, and told me that if he’ll have his prison time reduced for good behavior, he would be home for the holiday.
Shosh Kahn of “Women`s Organization for Political [fem.] Prisoners” (WOFPP) was present in court for the case of Naheel Abu Aisha of Hebron.
Nahil was arrested at home on 14.3.13. Since then she has been in Hasharon (Tel Mond) Prison. I entered the courtroom with Shosh, to listen to the hearing presided over by Chief Judge Lieut. Col. Menachem Lieberman.
Defense: Att. Iliya Theodori
Naheel denied the charges against her. Att. Theodori asked for a postponement until after Ramadan. and the next hearing was set for 1.9.13.
A highly significant part of our Military Court reports is of our encounter with the families, outside the courtrooms. This time, two fathers to 16-year old minors from Bir Zeit approached me. The boys have been in detention for two weeks now. The father says they were taken to the police station at Mate Binyamin (which the Palestinians call Rami Levi [supermarket] station), where they were interrogated and beaten for 4 days and where they finally confessed (how could they not?), and signed anything that was handed them, even though they have no idea what they signed [it’s all in Hebrew]. The father says that at the time his son was allegedly throwing stones, he was actually undergoing final exams at school. The father proudly mentioned that his son was first in his class, that next year he will successfully matriculate and then study on and be an engineer or lawyer like his brothers.