30 October 2011
Ten Days after Arrest of HaSharon Prison Protestors, Israeli Court Agrees to Transfer Seven of the Detained Demonstrators to House Arrest
Today, 30 October 2011, the Kufr Saba Magistrates' Court transferred seven of the HaSharon Prison demonstrators to house arrest, following their arrest outside the prison on 21 October 2011. According to the court, they must remain in house arrest until 1 November 2011. On 28 October 2011, the court transferred another of the detainees, a 17-year-old minor, to house arrest; seven other detained demonstrators were transferred to house arrest earlier, on 26 October 2011, for a week each.
The protestors were arrested on 20 October 2011 during a demonstration held in front of the HaSharon Prison. The protestors demanded the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, and in particular the women prisoners who were excluded from the recent prisoners' swap deal between Israel and Hamas. The detainees are being represented by a team of lawyers consisting of Adalah Attorney Orna Kohn and pro bono lawyers, Osama Sa'adi, Yamen Zeidan, Wissam Aghbariya, Jamil Khatib, Daoud Naffa', and Fouad Sultany.
During the court hearings, the legal team argued that the arrest of the demonstrators was illegal and that all the motions for extension of detention were legally void. The demonstrators were charged with participating in an unlicensed demonstration, and yet the demonstration did not need any form of permit under Israeli law because of its size and nature.
The police alleged that the protestors incited to violence and terrorism by calling for more Israeli prisoners to be captured in order to free the remaining Palestinian prisoners. The legal defense team argued that all of the detainees denied this allegation and all asserted that they had not used these slogans. Moreover, even if the demonstrators had used such a slogan, it would not constitute a legal offence, as it falls within the scope of their freedom to express their opinion, and does not meet the requirements of the Israeli Penal Code.
Following the court's decision, Adalah Attorney Orna Kohn stated that, "From the beginning the detainees and their lawyers have affirmed that the arrests were unjustified because the demonstration was a legal demonstration, and they never used the slogans they were alleged to have used. Regrettably, however, the police took their freedom for 11 days."
Attorney Hassan Jabareen, General Director of Adalah, brought a series of cases before the court in which the Attorney General's (AG's) Office has refrained from issuing indictments against right-wing MKs in cases of assault against Israeli police and security officers, or in which the courts decided that the MKs were protected by parliamentary immunity for such actions.
The group of political activists arrived at the area of the HaSharon Prison on 20 October 2011 to protest against the exclusion of women Palestinian prisoners from the prisoners' swap deal concluded between Israel and Hamas. The moment that they arrived, representatives of the police and the Israel Prison Service (IPS) asked them to hold the protest in an adjacent area and not on the prison grounds. They also told the demonstrators that they had to stop their demonstration before 5 o'clock pm, less than an hour after it started. However, shortly before this deadline had passed, a group of policemen arrived and ordered the demonstrators to stop immediately on the ground that it was "illegal" and to disperse immediately. While the demonstrators were making their way to the bus and their cars, the policemen began to assault those who were still outside the bus without warning, and tried to arrest them all merely for being present at the site.