Ofer - Interrogation of Witness, Separation Barrier
Translation: Marganit W.
The targeting of non-violent protesters against the occupation continues
Evidentiary hearing in the case of
Muhammad Abd Alkarim Mustafa Khatib, ID 861611053 - Case 2495/14
Muhammad lives in Bil’in. He has a master’s degree in international and local law.
Charges: participation in an illegal demonstration; disturbing the peace; preventing a soldier from carrying out his duties.
Judge: Deputy president Lieut. Col Zvi Heilbron
Prosecutor: Lieut. Raphael Shafransky
Defense: Atty. Gaby Lasky
I was the only one in the audience.
Muhammad Khatib testified for the defense. He answered all questions from both sides in fluent Hebrew.
Right at the outset he declared that this was a political trial, so his detailed answers would be political as well.
I recommend reading the protocol (Hebrew).
Here is the gist of what was heard in court:
Muhammad Khatib described how he was born in Bil’in under occupation and what prompted him to become a political activist who believes in non-violent resistance to the occupation – especially after the land of his native village was confiscated to build the settlement of Modi’in Illit and after the building of the separation wall on village land.
His arrest came after an event that occurred in July 1913 in the village of Bitin, which faces the settlement of Beit-El. He responded to the villagers’ appeal to help them till the land on a hill near the village. As people were gathering on the hill, soldiers showed up and tried to disperse them with tear gas and stun grenades.
Khatib testified that since he is fluent in Hebrew, he approached the soldiers to explain why the people had gathered there. An officer recognized him from previous incidents in Bil’in and ordered his immediate arrest.
Khatib repeated this point again and again: he was singled out because they identified him. The soldiers did not arrest other people there whose faces were covered.
He denied being the leader and instigator of the incident.
Asked why he did not check that the assembly had a permit from the local commander, he answered that agricultural work in Zones B and C does not require a permit.
The prosecutor accused him of being disingenuous and insisted that he should have known that his presence there would cause a disturbance.
Khatib reiterated that it was not a demonstration only agricultural work, and the security forces should have acted differently.
“Agricultural work brings people to the area. We had no intention to assemble there. I came to work the land. This is a political stand.”
The attorney asked to summon one last witness for the defense.
The next session was set for 15.3.16 at 13:30.