IDF West Bank Court system disrupted by arrest of Palestinian lawyer

Prisons on verge of boiling over.

April 3, 2019 20:51
3 minute read.
The IDF West Bank Courts continues to be disrupted by political and legal battle.

The IDF West Bank Courts continues to be disrupted by a political and legal battle over the arrest of Palestinian lawyer Tarek Barghout on February 27.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The IDF West Bank Courts continues to be disrupted by a political and legal battle over the arrest of Palestinian lawyer Tarek Barghout on February 27.

Although originally the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) arrested Barghout for one month, The Jerusalem Post has learned that his arrest and the gag order on his case was extended until at least April 28.

Following his arrest and the later arrest of Barghout’s wife, defense lawyers for Palestinians went on strike for a few days until his wife was released on March 10.

Recent hearings, including the trial against the alleged murderer of Ari Fuld, and the appeal of a partial acquittal for the attempted stabbing murder of Nirit Zamura, were postponed.

On February 27, Barghout was arrested along with his client, a Fatah strongman named Zakariya Zubeidi, on still unspecified terrorism charges since the case is under gag order pending the Shin Bet’s investigation.

Barghout was also representing the Palestinian accused of murdering Ari Fuld.

The Post has learned that although the alleged murderer of Fuld was indicted in October, the arrest of Barghout and the need for a new lawyer has pushed the trial’s start date off until at least April 29.

Palestinian lawyer Khaled al-Araj, who has taken over representing the alleged murderer of Fuld, told The Post that they do not know what Barghout’s status is and accused the courts of being an “arm of the occupation.”

In late March, the Supreme Court appears to have ended around a month in which he was not allowed to meet with his lawyer, Lea Tsemel.

His detention pending the ongoing probe, theoretically could be extended beyond April 28 for another 30 days, if approved by the IDF West Bank Appeal Court.

Within Israel, detainees get access to lawyers after a maximum of 21 days.

Despite the ability to extend Barghout’s detention further, The Post has learned that he may be indicted before April 28 not only for crimes connected to Zubeidi, but possibly even for connections to violent crimes.

In the background, multiple sources as well as a recent television interview by Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub suggest that there may be more than meets the eye and all of this may also relate to a secret internal war between various Palestinian factions.

Barghout may be a casualty of a broader internal Palestinian war between the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Prisoner affairs and the Prisoners Club. The Prisoners Club is entirely controlled by Fatah. The ministry, though affiliated with the Fatah-run PA, is supposed to also represent Hamas and other factions’ interests.

There have been a number of fights for control over the ministry and positions there and Barghout recently tried to go for the top lawyer position.

Some of the fights have led to the firing of Palestinian lawyers who regularly practice in the IDF West Bank Courts or to months of delay in receiving pay.

Barghout may be a casualty of this battle with Palestinian adversaries informing on him to the Shin Bet.

It is also possible that Barghout is a casualty of battles between Zubeidi and other Palestinian factional-adversaries who may have informed on Zubeidi to the Shin Bet, with Bargout getting swept up in that broader fight.

If Barghout is even partially a casualty of these internal battles, it does not say anything about his innocence or guilt. It only means that whether he is innocent or guilty, he might not be in the position he currently is in if he had not gotten caught in the internal Palestinian cross-fire.

The arrest was further destabilizing to the IDF West Bank Courts as it came shortly after the defense lawyers were already just recently in a conflict with the courts over the Israel Prison Service’s denying two Palestinian lawyers the right to bring cellphones into the court’s complex.

This came about in a dispute over the lawyers’ use of their cellphones to photograph a client who was allegedly injured in a battle between prisoners and security forces cracking down on prisoners’ concealed cellphones.  

There is also a new prisoner hunger strike expected in the near future over the cellphone issue and over a feeling that prisoners who hoped Hamas would gain their release in negotiations this past weekend will not be released.

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