Ofer - Traffic

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Nitza Aminov, Hava Halevi (reporting)


Translation: Marganit W.


We had two goals today (Monday 22.7.13): to follow up on the trial of Ayman Nasser, a researcher for Adameer, and to observe a few trials involving traffic violation.

We hardly ever watch traffic trials these days: we know how they are conducted and Haya Ofek’s report “Guide to the Perplex on the Conduct of the Police in the Territories” describes them only too well.

We did not expect any change that would justify further observation, but last week I read on YNET that the State Comptroller’s Report stated that since 2008 the military courts had not tried Palestinian traffic violators, except when the accident was fatal. So we wanted to verify it because I doubted that the IDF would give up millions in revenue that it gets from traffic violators.

It turned out that the report in YNET was inaccurate.

However, something did change: there is a new police prosecutor named Lilach Nissan.


There were 78 cases of various traffic cases before Justice Hilit Bar-On Bieber: crossing a dividing line, speeding, excessive load, and driving or transporting passengers without a license.

The process, too, has not changed much. The judge advises the violators, most of whom (quite rightly) are not represented by an attorney, to talk to the prosecutor. Thus, two scenarios take place in court simultaneously: one defendant pleads with the judge, and she dictates her decision, and a meter and a half away from the judge, the prosecutor talks to the defendant who is next in line and offers him a “bargain”.

We found that the fines have not increased since our last reports, and in any case, the defendants don’t have much to say about it since most have already paid a sum of 1000 shekels when they were arrested. In most cases we saw that the judge imposed a fine of 500 shekels in addition to what was paid at the time of arrest.

Now for a few details, but without names or ID numbers, at the driver’s request.

A Jerusalem resident was driving a big truck to Hebron. He loaded it with rocks and drove back to Jerusalem. Just before the Tunnels Road his air pipe ruptured. It was after 6 PM.

Here enters the bureaucracy of the occupation: Jerusalem houses are built with “Jerusalem stone” which comes from Hebron. [Perhaps another example of the judaization of the Arabs]. Israeli contractors rely on Palestinians truck owners from Jerusalem – who have yellow Israeli license plates and entry permits – and hire them to bring the stones from exile in Hebron to the Homeland. But one must not forget the security factor: so these trucks are allowed to cross the Checkpoint only until 5 PM .

Now here at Ofer we have one such driver who got himself into a mess. He was hurrying to Jerusalem, trying to reach the Checkpoint before 5 when his pipe burst. By the time he was done checking and fretting it was too late. So he left the truck at the side of the road and went to look for a mechanic. He left the mechanic there to fix the truck and went home to Jerusalem. The next day, when he came to retrieve his truck, to his utter astonishment, he was arrested by the police. Apparently, the mechanic, who needed to move the truck to his garage, did not have a driver’s license. The police killed two birds with one stone: the owner of the truck and the license-challenged mechanic. The officer ordered the truck immobilized for 30 days.

The debate in court dealt with the request to annul the police order and to return the truck to the owner.

The court did not concern itself with the traffic restrictions that are at the heart of this mess, only with questions like: why didn’t you verify that the mechanic had a license?  Why did you leave the truck on the road instead of driving it to the garage? Do you have a receipt for the repairs? Is the mechanic licensed? and similar claptrap.

The mechanic was not present in court and I don’t know if he was prosecuted. The judge, however, “weighed all considerations” including the “deterrent factor” (so Palestinians won’t leave their trucks on the road even when a pipe bursts after 5 PM, and will make sure to check the mechanic’s license).

The judge did not annul the officer’s order to immobilize the truck for a month, but she reduced it to two weeks. She deemed “the deterrent factor in this case” satisfied by just two weeks.