Ofer - Minors, Women
Translation: Marganit W.
Youths Against the Settlements
Since 2003 a group of youngsters has been active in Hebron, struggling against the occupation by non-violent strategies. In 2008 they renamed their group “Youths Against the Settlements”. Members organize, among other things, community activities and propagate in the Palestinian society the idea of a non-violent struggle.
One of their projects is “Standing Firm”: helping families repair ramshackle houses in order to preserve them.
Their most well known project, however, is taking photographs.
The army is constantly harassing this group and the members have been arrested many times.
Today’s hearing concerns one member of the group.
Judge: Deputy president Lieut. Col. Zvi Lekah
Prosecutor: Lieut. Nathaniel Yacov Hai
Defense: Atty. Lymor Goldstein
Appellant: Muhammad Ahmad Muhammad Alzajir – ID 850813866
The appeal is against the continuation of detention. Muhammad has been in detention for more than two weeks; he is being interrogated in Ashkelon. All this time he has been barred from seeing counsel. His attorney met him for the first time a few days ago.
Muhammad denies all the charges against him, his attorney reports, and there is no need for such a long investigation.
The prosecutor counters, insisting that there are other issues and concrete suspicions. Of course, the defense is not apprised of these suspicions, since it is all in the ‘confidential file’.
Shosh Kahn (from Women for Women Prisoners) and I were here today to observe the appeal of Muna Ka’adan.
Muna has been an activist in civil organizations for many years and paid for her activity with many arrests. In 15.2.99 she was arrested at a checkpoint and underwent harsh interrogation for 30 days. She went on a hunger strike for a month.
On 14.9.04 she was arrested in her home in Arabe near Jenin and sentenced for 18 months. She was released in the Shalit Prisoner Exchange, but then arrested again on 13.11.2012.
As a social activist she ran the “Albaraa” non-profit organization in Jenin, dedicated to the care of children and orphans. For this activity she was sentenced to 70 months and a 30,000-shekel fine.
Atty. Merav Khouri appealed the sentence, and the hearing was conducted by a panel of judges including:
Colonel Ezra Kama, Lieut. Col. Ariel Bendor and Lieut. Col. Ronen Atzmon.
The hearing was very long and the decision will be given at a later date. The most important part of the hearing – which I have heard many times before - is that any civilian activity in Palestine is a terrorist activity! Thus, any organization for charity, health, education etc. is immediately branded ‘proscribed organization’, and its members are arrested. In this case, too, the prosecutor focused on conflating civilian activity with terrorism.
In the courtyard I spoke with Palestinians. One resident of Louban A-Sharkiya told me that lately soldiers had been posted in the main street of the village, arresting youngsters who wear Keffiyas or even scarves looking like Keffiyas. (The man said, You know, it is cold now and they are trying to keep warm).
The youngsters are detained for a day or two at Binyamin Station and then released.
I spent most of the morning attending trials of juvenile detainees.
I am barred from reporting on these cases because of the minors’ right to privacy. If only the courts observed all the other rights of minors that are included in the Youth Laws.
I shall only report that one courageous boy that day refused to admit any of the charges brought against him, as his father told me. Therefore there was an evidentiary hearing in his case.
I wonder how many witnesses will be summoned to give long tedious testimonies that will exhaust the boy until he accepts a plea bargain.