- Accused Israelis face charges in civil courts. Military
- Palestinians. Virtually everyone is guilty by accusation.
A new study says so.
- More on that below.
- In April 2008, the Addamer Prisoners Support and Human
- published a report titled "Defending Palestinian
Prisoners: A Report on the
- Status of Defense Lawyers in Israeli Courts."
- It explained obstacles lawyers representing Palestinians
face in court. They're
- hampered by military orders, Israeli laws, and prison
procedures that prevent
- them from adequately helping clients. They're hamstrung
from time of arrests
- through detentions, interrogations, trials, imprisonments,
appeals, and other
- constraints against justice.
- Yet international law is clear and unequivocal. Article
2, section 3(b)(c) of
- the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- ....(P)ersons "shall have (the) right (to effective
remedy through a) competent
- judicial, administrative or legislative (authority),
or by any other competent
- authority provided for the legal system of the State
(to) ensure that the
- competent authorities shall enforce (judicial) remed(ies)."
- Article 14, section 1 states:
- "All persons shall be equal before the courts and
tribunals (and) shall be
- entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent,
independent and impartial
- tribunal established by law." They shall "be
presumed innocent until proved
- guilty according to law."
- They're also entitled to competent counsel, private lawyer-client
- confidentiality of oral and written communications between
- Addameer explained what, in fact, occurs. Palestinians
are entirely denied
- justice. Those accused are judged guilty. Attorneys get
to see clients for the
- first time on hearing days moments ahead of when they
begin. No preparation is
- After arrest, Palestinians go first to interrogation
centers. They may be held
- without judicial order for eight days and thereafter
indefinitely. Lawyers have
- no access for up to 90 days, and prisoners have virtually
no other outside
- contact during detention.
- Children young as 10 are treated like adults. Interrogations
- torture, intimidation and/or other types of abuse. Rule
of law principles don't
- Those charged are imprisoned or detained. Bail virtually
never is allowed.
- Administrative detainees are taken to Israeli prisons
for six months after which
- they're subject to indefinite extensions.
- Even learning where clients are held is daunting. One
- "I feel like they're using these procedures to pressure
lawyers like me to
- Jewish lawyers are less obstructed than Arab ones, but
- judicial fairness hamper prisoners and counsel throughout
- For example:
- Lawyers require permission any time to visit clients.
They must have proof of
- power of attorney from prisoners' families even though
requiring it has no legal
- basis. Moreover, getting it is burdensome given travel
- Meeting prisoners requires knowing where they're held;
learning when they're
- moved and where; dealing with orders barring meetings
with clients; enduing
- daunting travel through checkpoints; long waits inside
prisons; limited time
- with clients; speaking to them by phone through thick
plastic windows; constant
- monitoring by authorities; and restricted access to documents.
- Some attorneys call these obstacles "a way of making
the lawyer think a thousand
- times before deciding to visit the prison."
- In military courts, scheduling is another problem. Lawyers
must arrive by 9:30
- AM, then endure unreliable timetables for hearings. An
entire day may be
- consumed for a 15-minute one, and some attorneys say
that they waited until 7PM
- for it to begin.
- They also explain that they're treated like prisoners
themselves because their
- clients have virtually no hope for justice. Nonetheless,
they do their best
- under a system rigged to convict.
- Entering facilities is nerve-wracking and intimidating.
West Bank lawyers can't
- drive to military courts on the grounds that they pose
security threats. Once
- there, they endure long waits to be admitted.
- Soldiers must unlock gates. Some are cooperative, others
aren't, and then they
- must clear security. Those in Islamic dress are especially
pressed to prove
- they're lawyers, not terrorists seeking entry.
- One attorney described his Gaza experience, saying:
- "As a lawyer, you are a cow. They treat us like
they are trying to milk us. They
- squeeze everything from us: our dignity, our time - everything."
- Language is another problem. Court proceedings are in
Hebrew. Lawyers must be
- proficient to understand them. Palestinians may require
Arabic translations. The
- process is "uneven" at best.
- Moreover, translators speak quietly. Detainees may not
understand them. As a
- result, they can't follow proceedings properly. Nor can
their families consigned
- to the back of courtrooms when they're allow in at all.
- In addition, all confessions, statements, police reports,
military codes and
- judicial rulings are in Hebrew without translation, even
though Arabic is an
- official language in Israel.
- Under West Bank military orders, unauthorized political
activities are crimes,
- including putting up posters, writing slogans on walls,
being members of certain
- political parties or organizations, displaying Palestinian
flags or symbols,
- attending demonstrations, and socializing with persons
called security threats.
- Lawyers also may face months of delay to learn charges
against clients. They're
- often vague without details, including about alleged
offenses, dates, time and
- where occurred plus evidence that wouldn't hold up in
- Worse still, secret evidence is used, unavailable to
counsel. One lawyer said
- it's "like entering a dark room and not knowing
where to go or what to do." As a
- result, defending clients properly is impossible. With
little to go on, lawyers
- make educated guesses based on previous cases, hoping
they apply this time.
- They also can't call witnesses in detention hearings.
When allowed, they may
- only testify on matters of family life, moral character,
and other factors
- unrelated to charges.
- Israeli Arabs are as vulnerable as Palestinians. They
may be tried in military
- courts, and according to Israeli law "test of most
connection," Jerusalem Arabs
- come under military courts if accused of acts constituting
security threats in
- the eyes of authorities.
- Around 98% of the time, plea bargains, not trials, settle
- prefer them because:
- * most often they serve clients best under a system
rigged to convict;
- * civil cases (when held) must be completed in nine
months, but military ones
- may take two years without bail for charges bringing
- * the ordeal of trial and detention, family separation,
and other systemic
- inequities means clients are better served by ending
- * going to trial and losing may bring harsher sentences;
- * lawyers hope leniency will result by cooperating with
- Appealing decisions in Military Courts of Appeals is
daunting. In cases
- involving security threats, appellate reviews don't help.
Nearly always, this
- court has final say. Rarely does Israel's High Court
review their decisions.
- Lawyers vent their frustration, saying:
- "The whole process is oppressive."
- "I learned how to help people, but it's just not
possible in the military
- courts. They exist to administer the occupation, not
the law. I feel helpless."
- "The most frustrating thing is that you have to
work within the occupation. You
- oppose the system, but you have to work within it."
- "I am surprised that anyone can work as a lawyer
for administrative detainees
- without dying of a stroke."
- "There is the prosecution, a judge, a lawyer, a
prisoner. It looks legitimate
- but it is not. These tribunals should be boycotted."
- The Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual
discussed "Israeli Case-Law
- under Scrutiny," saying:
- "For over forty years, Israel has systematically
violated the rights of
- Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and its obligations
- Justice Israeli-style completely abandoned its role.
Justices side with
- prosecutors. Decisions are based on "confidential
security material" with no
- chance to review or challenge. Due process and judicial
fairness are entirely
- "The Israeli courts, whether directly or indirectly,
provide a legal seal of
- approval for the acts of the occupation." They're
complicit with state crimes
- against humanity.
- On November 29, Haaretz writer Chaim Levinson headlined,
"Nearly 100% of
- military court cases in West Bank end in conviction,"
- "Virtually all - 99.74 percent, to be exact - of
cases heard by the military
- courts in the territories end in a conviction, according
to data in the military
- courts' annual report...."
- Haaretz got a copy. It also showed appeals courts also
side with lower ones.
- Moreover, they accept two-thirds or prosecutorial appeals,
compared to one-third
- for Palestinians.
- Civil courts rarely get involved.
- In 2010, 25 of 9,542 cases ended in acquittal. Another
4% achieve partial
- success on one or more charges. Once in Israeli courts,
Palestinians are guilty
- by accusation. At best, cooperating may achieve some
degree of leniency.
- It's unsurprising that virtually all Palestinian families
have, or have had,
- fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and/or other relatives
- imprisoned longer-term. Justice in Occupied Palestine
- A Final Comment
- On November 24, Al-Haq headlined, "Israeli Soldiers
Harass Released Prisoners,"
- Palestinians freed by Israel's October prisoner swap
learned "their freedom
- comes at a price. In recent weeks, large financial rewards
are being offered by
- certain settler groups for the killing of at least four"
- Israeli officials are also involved. Moreover, former
prisoner homes have been
- raided late at night. "Witnesses reported that the
Israeli soldiers threatened
- the released prisoners" with rearrest, "and
vowed not to leave them in peace."
- Four examples followed, including:
- Akram `Abd-al-`Aziz Mansour
- On November 14 at 12:30AM, about 20 soldiers surrounded
his home and tried to
- enter. Told they came unofficially, Mansour refused to
- Nonetheless, he was confronted at gunpoint and questioned
about his plans. He
- was then ordered to report to Israeli Intelligence for
interrogation on December
- Wa'el Kamel Jalboush
- On November 18 at 11:30PM, Israeli soldiers raided his
home. He was warned
- against participating in political events organized by
Hamas, Fateh or Islamic
- Jihad. Doing so will subject him to rearrest.
- `Imad Yaser Mousa
- On November 19 at midnight, six Israeli soldiers raided
him home and searched
- it. An Israeli officer threatened him, saying:
- "We know that you are not allowed to leave Jenin
and that if you go even one
- meter outside the area, you will be arrested once more,
and I will not be