Magistrate Court - Stone Throwing, Interrogation of Witness
Translation: Marganit W.
Treading Water in the Justice System
The trial is about an incident that occurred on 24.12.10 and is an attempt to determine if the defendants threw rocks during a rally at Nabi Salah. One of the defendants has already left the country: he is now working in Istanbul. He came back especially to attend the hearing.
We could, of course, consider only one angle of this absurd theatre, namely the immense waste of time and finances of the judicial system.
Judge: Hannah Miriam Lump
Defense: Atty. Gaby Lasky
Defendants: Joseph Dana, Yuval Oron
Prosecution Witness No.1 is Mufid Fares. He describes the usual procedure of declaring an area ‘closed military zone’. He explains that he got authority to do so from the regional commander. The soldiers in the area did not have copies of the order. The order was taken from the repository and handed over to the investigation only on 22.4.11, i.e., the whole business of the military zone declaration is unclear.
Witness No. 6 is Nadbar Monsongo who has been discharged [from service] two and a half years ago. He explains that he can remember the incident only vaguely. Here is his version:
“As on every Friday, we came to Nabi Salah. There was a demonstration and rocks were thrown at our forces. In reply to your question, I have only vague memory of the incident: it was Friday, rocks were thrown, and people got arrested. We arrested two Israelis and one Palestinian.” (From the protocol – N.A.) Asked about his ability to identify the suspects, he replied: “Two Israelis, one wearing a white shirt, white scarf and green hat… the other wearing jeans and a shirt (a very unusual gear, to be sure, easily identifiable – N.A.)
In cross-examination by Atty. Lasky, it is clear that the witness hardly remembers anything. She asked, “ Do you recall that during the incident you used violence against the defendants? He replied, “We never use violence needlessly.” Lasky asked him if he has opinions regarding left-wingers who participate in rallies. He replied, “Let everyone be guided by his conscience.” However, he had no explanation for quotes found in his Facebook page stating, “A good Arab is a dead Arab”, “A 2-year old in Umm Al-Fahem died in a car accident. A nice way to start the day,” with a smiley face next to it. “Who agrees with me regarding gas-showers for Arabs and Lefties? Sounds nice to me,” with a smiley face.
Later, when asked about the arrest and the fact that he threw Defendant No. 2 to the ground, using brutal force, the witness said, “I don’t remember exactly what happened during that incident. If force was applied, it was reasonable, we never use force when it is not needed.”
Joseph Dana, Defendant No. 1 said in his testimony that he made Aliya 7 years ago. He comes from a Jewish-American family, and his goal was to do post-graduate studies in Jewish history. He began working as a reporter for American media and the Internet. He presents his press-card. He states that to accuse him of rock throwing and disturbance is preposterous given that journalists need credit and reliability to do their job. On the day in question, he came to Ni’ilin with Israeli activists as part of a series of articles he planned to write about “B’tzelem”. When the rally was over, they drove to Nabi Salah, but as soon as they entered they were greeted by clouds of gas. He stood on the side when a group of soldiers arrived and checked his hands. The purpose was to check if they were clean, by which process the army decides if a person has thrown rocks. Realizing that his hands were clean, they left, but then another group of soldiers arrived and they shouted and pointed at him. He told them, in Hebrew and in English, that he is a reporter, but they handcuffed him anyway, very aggressively, and shoved him, twisted the hand-cuffs which were very tight and hit him on the back of his knees. At which point he saw Yuval being arrested, thrown to the ground and violently manhandled. He heard Yuval complain that his nose was hurt.
A long discussion ensued concerning a photo Joseph was able to put on Twitter (how long does Twitter keep posts and other questions). The discussion was tedious, as the prosecution appeared to have no idea what Twitter was.
As often happens in witnesses’ examination there were claims and counter-claims (“At the police interrogation you said one thing, now you use a different phrase… What time exactly did you arrive at Nabi Salah? Never mind that you had no watch, your cell phone has the time… etc.)
Yuval Oron, Defendant No. 2, testifies that at no point did he hear a proclamation that the area was a closed military zone, nor did he see an order to that effect. He was standing at a certain point with Joseph Dana and Nariman Tamimi, a village resident who takes photos on behalf of B’tzelem.
The first group of soldiers apparently realized that they were not posing any problem, but a few minutes later a group of Border Police came running and they arrested Joseph and roughed him up. Again, he was asked badgering questions: why he did not seek medical treatment; was it an organized demonstration; how did he get to the place where he was arrested; how dare he contradict an officer; how dare he claim that the army issues orders to close areas on a weekly basis; “If you claim that you are against violence, why didn’t you leave the area when things flared up; was tear gas used etc. etc.
From the protocol:
Prosecutor: You testified to the police saying, “I deny throwing rocks and using violence.” Do you deny this categorically? Answer: Yes.
Question: Were those your exact words, or did you say, “I reject the allegations?”
Yuval demonstrates how preposterous this line of interrogation is when he says,
“This was 3 years ago. I was 21 at the time. I found myself brutally attacked by four strangers for no reason. They took me to the police station and handcuffed me. I was uncomfortable, exhausted, anxious…”
Defense prosecution No. 1 is Nariman Tamimi of Nabi Salah, who works as a photographer for B’tzelem. She confirms the defendants’ testimony, explaining that Yuval and Joseph are friends who come to the village to show solidarity.
Defense Witness No. 3 is Irene Nasser, who worked with Joseph at Ni’ilin, but did not come to Nabi Salah.
After 4 hours of deliberations the judge handed down her decision: the prosecution will present its summation within 45 days; the defense will present its summation 30 days later.
The sentence will be handed down on 23.2.14 at 12:00.