Monday, April 03, 2006


Israel's apartheid laws explained

I attended a legal training workshop run by a group of progressive Israeli lawyers, for International and Palestinian activists. Having been involved in the civil liberties campaign in Australia it was frightening just how few rights Palestinians have. Even before being arrested a soldier or police person can hold a someone for three hours without charge.

Once arrested an international has 24 hours before they have to be presented before a judge (slightly longer if they are detained after 2pm on Friday, because of Shabbat). A Palestinian on the other hand could spend 8 days before being required to front up to the military court. You have the right to notify your lawyer but you do not have the right to speak a lawyer until right before your hearing.

Palestinians can be denied a lawyer for up to 21 days despite being placed in front of a judge after 8 days meaning that they aren't allowed to have their lawyer present at their hearing (maybe the lawyer will be allowed into the court after their client has left).

Defense lawyers and even the defendants can be denied information simply on the basis that it is a security risk. In which case it is more of an interrogation then a real trial. Sometimes neither a lawyer or family will be notified of the Palestinians detention for up to 8 days depending on the investigating officers discretion (to which there is no criteria).

While Israelis deal with a civil court, Israelis are required to face a military court where the judge as well as the prosecution are both military. A Palestinian doesn't even need to be found guilty of a crime in order to be incarcerated and can be put under 'administrative detention' without charge for 6 months at a time. This 'administrative detention' can be consistently renewed and some Palestinians have spent up to 7 years in jail without charge. There are currently hundreds of Palestinians who are under administrative detention.

Another problem that many Palestinians have is the use of collaborators to obtain a confession. Even though Palestinians have the right to silence they are constantly treated like they don't and often after refusing to say anything they will be released into a holding cell where they will tell everything to another Palestinian in the cell with them. Sometimes the collaborator will pretend to be an agent of Fateh or Hamas and try to get their comrades to reveal things to them.

One of the most shocking things I had heard that day though was that a Palestinian 10 year old can be charged as a minor. The Israeli settler kids who've throw stones at Palestinians and internationals like myself, can't be charged until they are 14.

So this is equality under Israeli 'democracy.'

Your blog is excellent. Keep up the great work you are doing to highlight the issues in Palestine. You met my wife over there, you might remember the dancing on the roof, so many, many thanks from the people of Scotland.

She speaks very highly of you.
true dat! really great blog, I will be back...
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