Ofer - Plea Bargain, Release on Bail
Translation: Marganit W.
Morning and Afternoon
There weren’t many families in the court when we arrived, and not many hearings took place. Yet, in the few hearings we attended (including cases involving minors) and in the many conversations we had with the families, again and again we heard about the arrest of minors whose houses were broken into in the middle of the night; we heard about attempts to collect money for fines and bonds, and mostly about the helplessness the families feel vis-à-vis an arbitrary system that they cannot figure out.
We heard the question: “Why are they doing this to us?” so many times, my reply is: “Because they can.”
We sat in Justice Etty Adar’s court of remand extensions.
Unfortunately, I can’t give full account on any of the hearings.
One detainee is accused of membership and activity in the Popular Front [For the Liberation of Palestine] from 2005 until his arrest. He is also accused of throwing objects at the security fence in Al Tira, in July 2012 and January 2013.
There seems to be a plea bargain: prosecution moves to impose a 21-months imprisonment, an18-months suspended sentence for 5 years plus a 2000 shekel fine.
Two detainees barred from seeing an attorney are brought in and we are asked to leave.
We attended a few hearings involving minors, so I am not allowed to report on them. We spoke to families from Abu Dis and Jilasun and heard that in the Abu Dis area arrests are made every day.
Here’s a personal note: for ten years now I have been active on behalf of the Jahalin, the Bedouins living near Azariya.
On Sunday, while in the yard, I heard someone call my name and saw some of the people who consider me a member of their family. When I entered the court, I was surprised to see on the detainees bench people (among them a father and son) whom I’ve been working with for years, and whom I had taught Hebrew). Together we operated summer camps; I attended their weddings, accompanied patients on visits to hospital, and brought mothers and newborn babies back home etc. etc.
A strange story unfolded in the hearing. There is suspicion of forced protection imposed on businesses in the Mishor Adomim area. 65 persons are implicated, 15 of them are in detention. An undercover investigation began 7 months ago that only came to light recently.
Atty. Franco represents some of the detainees. Atty. Merar represent others and the rest are represented by Atty. Munzer Abu Ahmad.
Abu Ahmad’s clients were released on 2000 shekel bail each. Their family members gave him the money on the spot, and to his credit, even though it was late in the afternoon, he immediately went to pay the bail, so that the three detainees could be released. He later told me that he had no idea how the case would end, but it was clear that a large number of detainees were arrested in order to draw attention to the affair by blowing it out of proportion.
I have my own query: is this part of a years-long campaign to drive the Bedouins out of the area? These are people who used to live in Israel, in Tel Ard and were evicted in 1951.