Ofer - Women, Maltreatment
Translation: Marganit W.
Morning and Afternoon
“We don’t deal with political issues here, only with legal issues” (Justice Sigal Turjeman)
It was the last hearing in the trial of Yunes Arar, an activist in the Popular Committee in Beit Ummar who is accused of infringing on the ‘closed military zone’ law two years ago. An evidentiary trial has been going on since then.
Yunes opened with a description of the illegal settlement of Karmei Tsur that sits on the land of Beit Ummar Village. Among the stolen land is a track belonging to his father, which includes an orchard of at least 300 trees.
In 2005 Yunes’s father obtained a permit to enter the area and till his land. But to this day he has not been able to use that permit. Whenever they get there, soldiers show up and declare the area a ‘closed military zone’ and order the owners to vacate the area within 5-10 minutes.
The hearing in court was long and tedious. The prosecution insisted on presenting a string of videos, seconds long, showing Yunes and his friends trying to enter the settlement.
“If you were going to till your land, why did you bring other people? Why are you carrying a Palestinian flag?
Yunes replies that he is a free agent: it is his right to enter his land with friends, and also to carry his flag.
The photos show also the military order with a map, all written in Hebrew, of course.
At this point the judge intervenes: “Why do they issue an order in Hebrew for a Palestinian population? Why not translate it into Arabic?”
This is the point I raise at the top: Political issues are definitely dealt with in the military courts.
Atty. Nery Ramati, representing Yunes, and the prosecution will present written summations.
Often, the seemingly banal stories are the most heartbreaking.
Since morning a young man from Hebron sat next to me waiting for his brother’s hearing. As often, the army arrived in the middle of the night and kidnaped the student from bed. This happened a few days ago. The student has asthma. The brother kept asking me why the soldiers would not allow his brother to take his medication with, and what could be done about it.
When we first entered I saw a smiling young man trying to pass a note to his brother. The guards pounced on him immediately and I intervened. It turned out that it was the fax number of the prison, where medical records could be sent. I explained this to the guards and told them that the prison authorities asked him to give he note to his brother. The guards accepted the explanation but insisted that I take the note from the detainee, copy the number, give it to the brother, then return the note to the detainee.
What happened next was also very sad: it was a very busy day, so in the late afternoon, the attorney apologized to the detainee and his brother because the hearing was postponed for tomorrow.
Think about the long hours the detainee spent in the Posta (the vehicle transporting prisoners to the court before dawn), the wait in the court and the ride back to prison at night. This will be repeated tomorrow.
Justice Lieutenant Colonel Avry Einhorn presided over the hearing of Rana Ibrahim, a young woman from Qalandiya. Another surreal story.
On 29.5.15 Rana returned from Jordan, and on Allenby Bridge someone asked her to carry a bag. Upon inspection it turned out that the bag contained 3 or 5 packets of cigarettes, a quantity which is considered illegal. She was given a citation, which made her furious and she freaked out, banged on the walls and threw a suitcase. She was immediately handcuffed.
In court she reiterated that she had been brutally beaten and put in a holding cell. When the policemen sat down to eat, they left a knife on the table.
Rana seized it and tried to hurt herself. When she was told to hand over the knife, she did so.
Rana was brought to Ofer without any legal counsel. Munzer Abu Ahmad volunteered to represent her even though the case does not fall under the jurisdiction of the ‘Prisoners Club’ which he represents in court.
During the hearing, Rana – 25 years old but looking like 16 – wept continuously. Her father is dead and she is her elderly mother’s sole support.
The prosecutor insisted, and the judge agreed, that she could not be released on bail. “These are charges of attack on a public servant, wielding a knife and threats. They constitute risk and do not warrant an alternative to detention.” Thus, the continued detention is part of the punishment.
On Thursday June 4 she will be indicted. The attorney requested it be done early in the morning, in case she can be released the same day.
The judge was so shocked that she had thrown a suitcase, that in his decision he added that the prison authorities must allow her one phone call to her family, as per Prison Service regulation. The court asked the Prison Commander to take into consideration the fact that the detainee is in an unstable mental state, as her attorney had argued.