Ofer - Plea Bargain, Stone Throwing
Translation: Marganit W.
As on every Monday, many Palestinians were in court for traffic violations.
At the entrance I met Gerard Horton from Military Court Watch – which deals with minors, and Slava Davis from Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling, as well as two young people.
I asked if they were there for hearings of minor detainees, and they said that it was a routine visit. Later in the yard we saw many people approaching Slava, giving her names and details of detained relatives – among them minors – and she promised to make inquiries and get back to them.
In Justice Major Meir Visiger’s court several plea bargains were arranged.
Accused: Hamza Hassan Shehada Abu Kara – ID 401116546
Defense: Atty. Fadi Qawasme
Hamza is accused of throwing a firebomb and other objects at people and properties, and of attending a meeting of an unlawful organization. On 14.12.12 he marched in a parade commemorating the establishment of Hamas. The severest violation – throwing firebombs - was carried out when he was 17 and 11 months. His sentence was:
19 months jail time starting from the day of his arrest, 18 months suspended sentence for 5 years during which he is to refrain from handling arms, throwing firebombs and participation in an unlawful organization. And the usual monetary fine of 3000 shekels.
Hamza’s elderly mother was in court. She asked repeatedly for mitigation since her son was a minor at the time. The attorney explained that a plea bargain was already in place so there was no point pleading for leniency. The mother just wanted her son back quicker.
Atty. Ahmad Safiya represents Mazen Muhammad Muhammad Mugrabi – ID 943583955
Mazen is accused of membership and activity in Islamic Jihad. He conspired to damage Israeli vehicles. In 2007 Mazen had been accused of similar violations and spent 22 months in jail. On 5.3.09 he was again convicted of setting up a cell of Islamic Jihad.
The sentence enumerates all of Mugrabi’s violations and the penalties were: 18 months in jail, plus activation of a previous suspended sentence, thus a total of 34 months; 24 months suspended sentence for 5 years plus 2000 shekels fine.
(I don’t get the reason for the monetary fine – N.A).
Jamal Al-Tawil was also tried before Justice Visiger.
He is about 50 years old, the former mayor of Al-Bireh, a leader of Hamas and an activist on behalf of security prisoners.
As a mayor he was much respected. We realized this when every lawyer who entered the courtroom approached him and shook his hand warmly.
As leader of Hamas he had been arrested several times on charges of incitement against the state: during the first Intifada and then again in 1998, when the Palestinian Security Service arrested him, and then in 2011 when the IDF arrested him.
He was kept under administrative detention for many months. The last time he was arrested was on 5.1.13, when he again was kept under administrative detention for many months until an indictment was filed and his trial began.
He is now detained in Megiddo Prison.
Atty. Ahmad Safiya represents him.
The hearing was postponed to 16.2.15. He appealed to the court for permission to visit his daughter Bushra Al-Tawil who is detained at Sharon Prison. The request was denied.
I later spoke to his wife, Muthaha Al-Tawil, who told me that she, too, is barred from visiting her daughter – and her husband – since 2002. She herself was in Israeli jail between 2010-2011. The couple has 4 children.
Their daughter Bushra was rearrested in 2014 (having been released in 2011 as part of the Shalit Prisoners Exchange). She was sentenced to 16 months when she was 18 and spent 5 months in jail. Now the court decided she needed to serve 11 more months to complete her punishment. Bushra is a journalist and spokeswoman of a Palestinian Agency dealing with political prisoners. Like most prisoners released in the Shalit exchange and then arrested again last summer, Bushra was declared a “risk to security in the region”.
This charge probably applies to her father, Sheikh Jamal Al-Tawil, as well. The reasons for his latest arrest are probably in the secret Shabac [GSS] file. The official reason for his arrest was that he wanted to go to Al-Aqsa mosque.
We will continue to follow the case.