Ofer - Release on Bail, Stone Throwing
Translation: Marganit W.
Military Court of Appeals
Judge: Colonel Netanel Benishou [President of the Military Court]
Prosecution: Captain Asher Silver
Defense: Atty. Nery Ramati
Appellant: Murad Mahmoud Alsheikh Abed Alkader Eshtawi - ID 901094292
Murad Eshtawi is 41 years old, father of four and a resident of Kafer Qaddum. He works as public relations officer at the Palestinian education ministry.
Present in the court were his wife, his brother, 2 volunteers from the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program, an Israeli protester, a representative of the European Union and myself.
Eshtawi was arrested, with five other villagers, during one of the weekly demonstrations against the blocking of the road from Kafr Qaddum to Nablus (caused by the expansion of a settlement near Kedumim).
On 12.5.14 a hearing took place at Salem Military Court where the prosecution argued for remand extension for the detainees. The defense argued for an alternative to detention. [See report on the hearing]
When the motion was rejected, the defense appealed: five detainees were released but not Murad Shatiwi.
Today, his attorney appealed the earlier court decision to remand him in custody until the conclusion of the investigation.
The defense’s arguments against the detention of his client:
The charges are based on testimony by two unreliable incriminators, one of whom is clearly a liar. They claimed that Murad incites youngsters to protest and that he himself throws rocks at rallies.
The defense brings up the subject of permits required for political rallies/demonstrations, which are never given to residents of the Occupied Territories. In this case, Ramati argued, the protest was against blocking a road, which prevents the residents’ sheep from grazing. Thus, the “political” issue is not relevant here and the charge that no permit was obtained for the rally has no standing. Moreover, the appellant is a respectable person with no prior record. The defense moved for an alternative to detention, even if it involves a heavy bond.
The prosecutor countered that charges were brought by two incriminators. He reiterated that the appellant is a “central and dominant figure” in the demonstrations – “the driving spirit behind them”. “The court had held that the very fact that he was present at a demonstration where rocks were thrown at security forces makes him culpable and attests to the danger he poses”.
The prosecutor added that those demonstrations had long ceased to be a local affair. They take place every week and are full of violence. This is a political issue.
His Honor asked the prosecutor a few poignant questions while at the same time smiled at the defense.
But don’t let this display fool you. The hearing had an air of fairness, but a few days later, the judge handed down his decision (without explanation) rejecting the appeal. This should come as no surprise: the popular Palestinian struggle in the villages is a thorn in the side of the army and they would stop at nothing in order to crush it. Mostly, the army seeks to neutralize the “leading figures” as we inferred from the heavy penalties imposed on central figures from Bil’in and Nabi Saleh.
We also learned that the Prosecution plans to appeal the release on bail of the five other protesters.