The IDF West Bank prosecution has its hands full in its legal battle to return to prison dozens of rearrested Palestinians who were released as part of the Gilad Schalit deal. This emerged at Monday’s hearing before a special judicial committee sitting in the Judea Military Court at Camp Ofer near Jerusalem.
More than half of the proceedings against some 60 rearrested Palestinians took place at Ofer, with a large number represented by defense lawyer Merav Khoury.
She slammed the entire process against the Palestinians on three central grounds.
First, Khoury said that her fight for her clients’ liberty is significantly handicapped by the withholding of compelling evidence on national security grounds.
She asked that the Judea Military Court review the secret evidence in detail so that it might recommend to the IDF prosecutor to disclose more items, noting that the Salem military court had already been involved in such a process.
She cited the High Court of Justice’s recent opinion permitting the state to reinitiate house demolitions against certain Palestinian terrorists’ families as an example of policy that can be changed for security reasons. Khoury argued that, while house demolitions left room for altering course based on general policy, the Schalit deal had no such qualifications and thus there is no basis to reincarcerate released prisoners simply to punish Hamas, if they had honored the conditions of their release.
She also questioned the state’s motivation in rearresting those released, saying, “This is all about revenge.”
Further, Khoury contended that, since the outcome of a negative court decision would be to send those released back to prison for extended terms, the standard of evidence for the proceedings should be similar to criminal cases; even though they technically deal only with whether the release prisoners violated the terms of their pardons.
Lt.-Col. Maurice Hirsch, the chief IDF West Bank prosecutor, argued against Khoury's claims, saying she was trying to superimpose standard criminal law concepts. He explained that, in criminal proceedings, defendants’ individual rights are guarded by the presumption of innocence, while all of these Palestinians had already been convicted for serious security crimes and sentenced to long prison terms.
Hirsch said that they therefore do not have a standard criminal defense or rights, since they were free only as the result of a pardon. The only question before the court, he asked, was had they violated their obligations to the state under their reprieve? Most of the cases are similar to that of Hadar Raadi, who was accused of violating his pardon by joining Hamas and receiving $10,000-$12,000 from them after his release.
Raadi told the court that he is newly married and has a son since his release, and would never have done such things if he had intended to return to work for terrorist organizations.
Khoury said that if Raadi had received any funds from Hamas he did not ask for them, did nothing to warrant receipt of them, and that in his past he worked for Islamic Jihad, never Hamas.
She said there was no basis to say he had acted for Hamas simply because he may have known that Hamas had given him a gift.
Hirsch said that accepting such funds in the knowledge that Hamas was the source, as well as earlier statements by Raadi at his initial trial, showed that he had never changed his ways, had violated his pardon, and should be sent back to prison.
The three judges grilled Hirsch about whether the state had unfairly punished these Palestinians because of the state’s anger at Hamas for orchestrating the kidnapping and murder of three boys in June, especially in light of there being no evidence of actual terrorist activity.
Hirsch responded that security in the West Bank has deteriorated, including the kidnapping, and that a deterrent message needed to be sent to Hamas. He added that Supreme Court precedent allows rearresting persons for violating their pardons even years after the violation, with the reason for the timing of the arrest being legally irrelevant.