Ofer - Plea Bargain, Stone Throwing
Translation: Marganit W.
On 17.2.14 “Haaretz” published an op-ed article by Prof. Kremnitzer and Atty. Fuchs from the Israel Democracy Institute entitled ”Giving in to Terrorism”. In it the authors voiced their objection to the anti-terrorism bill before the Knesset. They wrote:
“Expanding the fight against anti-terrorism to include marginal institutes such as social organizations and defining them as terrorist organizations…. Identifying oneself with a terror organization (such as wearing a shirt with Hamas insignia) is no reason for incrimination….”
Add to this the fact that the Attorney General has advised the government not to regard “Price Tag” activists as terrorists, identifying them only as “unlawful association” (NA)
We, who observe the military courts, know for a fact that to the Palestinians such splitting hairs makes no difference: if the violation corresponds to the Emergency Regulations 1945 (which were British ordinances!) or it is merely a military order, the ban includes all activities of student organizations, charities, rallies etc.
Judge: Major Meir Vigiser
Prosecutor: Captain Racheli Aviv
Defense: Atty. Fady Qawasme
Defendant: Anas Hassan Shehade Abu Karaa,ID 853030724-Case 4548/13
This was the last session in this case: an agreement had been reached and verdict and sentence were handed down.
Abu Karaa was convicted based on his admission that he had served in an unlawful organization. Before his arrest he had taken part in a Hamas demonstration, hoisted flags and hung posters.
He had already been convicted on 22.9.08 and served time for many months for similar violations. The judge did not deem his activity in the organization too incriminating and sentenced him to only 10 months in jail, plus 12 month suspended sentence for 5 years for the membership, 12 months for 3 years for throwing objects, and of course 2000 shekel fine.
Appeal of the verdict in the case of Ayman Bassem Ahmad Alfula – ID 859530164
Judge: Ronen Atzmon
Atty. Fahed Qawasme
Defense: Iyad Misk
The defendant is a resident of Hebron. He is released on bail and came to court with his father. The charge is throwing a rock from a distance of 50 meters at an army jeep. It happened a year ago, when he was 17.5. He admitted his guilt and was sentenced to 4 month plus a 3000-shekel fine – in addition to the 5000-shekel bail his father had posted. A year passed from the trial to the appeal. Since his arrest and until the trial he was in detention for two weeks. He is now a student of architecture and design at Hebron University.
Both sides appeal the decision. The defense appeals the 4 months sentence, asking to convert it to a fine, while the prosecution appeals the leniency of the sentence.
The defendant’s father owns a grocery store in Hebron.
What bothered me about this trial was this: all the details (his age, the rock, the jeep, legal precedence, his studies etc) were presented in detailed and matter-of-fact fashion: one thing was missing: the fact that his entire life passes under an occupation regime. The jeep was there on behalf of the occupation, the rock was thrown as protest against the occupation, the bail money finances the military judicial system, the laws and the precedences are there to maintain oppression and intimidation. Everything is conducted according to the letter of the law: crime and punishment, except the context has disappeared, was obliterated. Everything is routine.
The prosecutor objected to striking out the prison punishment.
The judge said, “A year has gone by. Has there been rehabilitation? Is there proof of it? “(What rehabilitation does he have in mind??)
The prosecutor said there is no proof of rehabilitation and the punishment is warranted. Now came a graphic description of the violation. The prosecutor maintained that the case concerns the security forces. A rock was thrown at a military jeep, which is a serious violation: a person could have been killed. The punishment should reflect the court’s abhorrence of such crimes.
The judge pointed out that throwing a rock at a jeep from 50 meters away is not a serious violation, but the prosecutor described a possible derailment of the jeep, shattered glasses and endangerment. “If we do not put him in prison we will make a mockery of the principles that guide us and of the High Court of Justice’s decisions that penalized rock throwers. The court must hand down a severe punishment. As for the fine – it is adequate and does not require the court’s intervention.” Sadly, I have to agree with him: as for the principles that guide the court, the court certainly follows them.
The defense reiterated that the violation was not planned. The jeep happened to park near the defendant’s house. He is now a student; he has rehabilitated himself, resumed normal life (here I disagree, what’s normal life?) The two weeks he already served should suffice and the fine should be reduced.
No decision was given and the attorney did not know when one would be given.
Everything was normal, routine, habitual – and that’s what so horrible, if you ask me.
Appeal in the case of Amran Muhammad Jamal Saleh – ID 852194042
Judge: Lieutenant-Colonel Nataniel Benishu
Prosecutor: Captain Asher Silver
Amran Saleh was caught staying illegally in Israel; he is also accused of forging an ID and an entry permit. The decision of the earlier trial must have been too lenient, so the prosecution is appealing.
The judge sided with the prosecutor and gave Saleh 3 months in jail plus a 1000 shekel fine or another month in jail. There is no change in the suspended sentence.
We have raised this point many times before: the man cannot provide for his family, so he sneaks into Israel hoping to find work. Security forces catch him, detain him, fine him and now for three months he won’t be able to look for work, earn income and feed his family. He also owes money to whoever lent his family the bail money. Had he had such a sum, he wouldn’t have to infiltrate into Israel.
Once again, everything was routine. Justice Benishu conducted the trial in good spirits with smiles all around.