Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Ofer Military Courts – A hidden portrait of the physical and psychological occupation of Palestinian youths

From MEMO - On the ground of the big dusty square in front of the Ofer military base lie the relics of exploded rubber bullets and discharged live ammunition. These are the remnants of demonstrations for the release of political prisoners, which are often violently repressed by Israeli forces. Last year, Israeli forces unlawfully killed two youths who were participating in a demonstration close to the base. Ofer military base was established on the outskirts of Ramallah, has housed the military courts since 1968. Ofer military courts are one of the judicial arms of the Israeli prolonged occupation of Palestine.

Inside the courtrooms – which are small, metal, prefabricated buildings – the everyday business is focused on the prosecution of young Palestinian prisoners. The proceedings violate of international law.

On 22 July, 2015, a Palestinian child was tried for his involvement in an incident that began in the streets of Hebron. The child flicked a lighter. Israeli soldiers, located approximately 100 meters away, spotted the flame in the dark and shot three times at the boy's leg. The soldiers said they shot him because they thought that he was about to light a Molotov cocktail. Other soldiers, who immediately gathered, testified that they found the remnants of a Molotov cocktail, approximately 30 metres away from the boy. However, the Israeli soldiers destroyed the Molotov cocktail on site, thus it could not be presented in court. Despite the lack of material evidence, the judge convicted the boy who was shot by Israeli soldiers, notwithstanding.

In another military courtroom, four shackled young Palestinians were sitting on a bench to the left of the military prosecutor's desk. The mother of one of the boys came in from the door and showed a two finger sign of victory to her son. She then moved to the second row of seats in the back of the courtroom, where parents are only allowed to sit. She gave her son a reassuring smile and whispered gentle words to him. His eyes became watery. The judge extended the four youths' period of detention after having identified them by reading out loud their names, without further examination of each individual case. more


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