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BTselem The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

Presumed Guilty:
Remand in Custody by Military Courts in the West Bank

B'Tselem Report, June 2015

(02) 6749111 ,(02) 6735599 ,9153002 ,53132 .. ,35


st

35 Mekor Haim St. (1 Floor), P.O.Box 53132, Jerusalem 9153002, Tel. (02) 6735599, Fax (02) 6749111
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Table of Contents
Introduction ...................................................................................................................................... 3
ThemilitaryjusticesystemintheWestBank ....................................................................................... 6
Legalbackground:Therighttolibertyandremandincustody .............................................................. 9
Figures ............................................................................................................................................ 12
Firstconditionforremandincustody:Primafacieevidence ............................................................... 16
Secondconditionforremandincustody:Groundsfordetention ........................................................ 24
Thirdconditionforremandincustody:Lackofalternativestodetention ............................................ 31
Releaseonbail ................................................................................................................................ 36
Theoutcome:Pleabargains ............................................................................................................. 40
Conclusions ..................................................................................................................................... 42

Introduction
MilitarycourtshaveoperatedintheOccupiedPalestinianTerritories(oPt)sincetheIsraelioccupation
beganin1967.Overtheyears,theyhavecometobeoneofthemainapparatusesservingtheregimeof
occupation. To date, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been brought before these courts.1
MilitarycourtsceasedoperatinginGazaafterIsraelwithdrewitsmilitaryforcesfromtheGazaStripin
2005,butcontinuetooperateintheWestBanktothisday,withtheexceptionofEastJerusaleman
areaIsraelannexed.
ThecourtsjurisdictionhashardlybeenaffectedbythedivisionoftheWestBankintoAreasA,BandC
undertheOsloAccordsorthetransferofcertaincivilianandsecurityresponsibilitiestothePalestinian
Authority(hereafter:thePA).AllresidentsoftheWestBankcontinuetobeprosecutedinthesecourts
forviolationsofthemilitarysbodyoflaw,suchastheuseoffirearms,stonethrowing,membershipin
illegalorganizations,participationinprotestsandentryintoIsraelwithoutapermit.Militarycourtsalso
presideovercriminaloffensesandtrafficviolations.
The following report focuses on one of the central aspects in the work of the military justice system:
remandincustodypendingendofproceedings.Inthiscontext,remandisthedetentionfortheduration
ofalllegalproceedingsinthecaseofapersonwhosequestioningandinvestigationhasbeencompleted
andwhohasbeenformallycharged.Thereportdescribestheprocessbywhichmilitarycourtsapprove
motionsforremandputforwardbytheprosecutionandreviewsthereasonscitedbythejudgeswhen
approvingthesemotions.
Detentionisinjuriousbydefinition.Itcutspeopleofffromtheirlives,families,surroundings.Inonefell
swoop, detainees come under a strict daily routine over which they have no control. They lose their
privacy and become dependent on the prison guards. This leads to feelings of helplessness and
humiliation,whichareexacerbatedwhenthepersonheldincustodyisnotservingaprisonsentence,
hasnotbeensentencedatall,andshouldbepresumedinnocentuntilprovenguilty.Detaineesalsohave
difficulties mounting an effective defense from behind prison walls, thereby possibly adding to the
violationoftheirrights.
Remandincustodyisclearlyanecessityincertaincircumstances,suchaswhenpublicsafetyisatrisk,or
when steps to ensure a proper criminal procedure are required. Former Chief Supreme Court Justice
MeirShamgardescribedthedilemmajudgesface:
The defendants very detention raises a serious preliminary question: This is, after
all, a person who has not yet been convicted. He is presumed innocent, and our
experienceshowsthatthepresumptionofinnocenceisnotjustamatteroftheory,
butthatitisoftensubstantiatedwhenadefendantisacquitted.Balancedagainstall
this,isthe needto protectsociety anditsmembersfromrepeatedoffensesofthe
sortwithwhichthedefendantischarged,orotheroffensesthatcircumstancesoften

YaelRonen,BlindinTheirOwnCause:TheMilitaryCourtsintheWestBank,CambridgeJournalofInternational
andComparativeLaw2(4),739,2013,p.740.

giverisetointheinterimphasebetweenthefilingoftheindictmentandtheendof
thetrial.2
Becauseofthesevereviolationoftherightsofdefendants,theprosecutionmighthavebeenexpected
toexercisecautionindemandingremandincustodyandthecourtsmighthavebeenexpectedtoensure
remandisgrantedonlywhenthereisnootherchoice.This,however,isnotthesituationinthemilitary
courts.Withtheexceptionofindividualstriedfortrafficviolations,remandingPalestiniandefendantsin
custodyforthedurationoftheproceedingsistheruleratherthantheexception
Oneoftheoutcomesofthispolicyisthatthevastmajorityofmilitarycourtcasesendinpleabargains.
Defendantsprefertoavoidalengthytrialwhileincustody,knowingthattheyriskspendingmoretime
behind bars than the prison sentence they would receive in a plea bargain. As a consequence the
prosecutionisseldomrequiredtogothroughafullevidentiarytrial,inwhichitmustpresentevidenceto
proveapersonguilty.Ineffect,thecaseisdecidedatthetimetheremandisapprovedratherthanon
thebasisofevidenceagainstthedefendant.
When hearing remand motions, military justices rely on Israeli law regarding arrest and detention,
ratherthanmilitarylaw.Itispartoftheprevailingtendencyinthemilitarycourtstowardsbridgingthe
gapbetweenthetwolegalsystems.3MilitaryJudgeCol.NetanelBenisho,thecurrentpresidentofthe
MilitaryCourtofAppeals,hasdescribedthecivilianizationofthemilitarycourts:
Thelegislatorintheareahasshownaslowbutsteadytrendtowardimbuingcriminal
lawwithasubstantiallyciviliancharacter.Thisispursuedbylegislativeamendments
thatcancelsimilararrangementsandlinkstoIsraelimilitarylaw,infavorofclosely
followingcivilianlaw.Thistrendalsoemergesfromjudicialpracticesinthemilitary
courts in the area, inspired by the spirit of judicial activism characteristic of the
courts,chieflytheMilitaryCourtofAppeals,whosecurrentjurisprudenceislargely
geared toward bringing the courts main body of work on par with that of civilian
courtsinsideIsrael.4
Military Judge Col. Aharon Mishnayot, formerly President of the Military Court of Appeals, has also
addressedtheimpactIsraelilawhashadontherulingsofthemilitarycourts,expressedthroughdirect
absorptionofnormsfromIsraelilawintothesecuritylegislation;judicialabsorptionofprinciplesthat
originateinIsraelilaw,andintheclosemonitoringbytheSupremeCourtoverIDFactionsintheareain
general, andtheoperationofthe military courtsinparticular. Mishnayotnotesthatthisindicatesa
bridgingofthegapbetweenthelawintheareaandIsraelilaw,andincreasedprotectionfortherights
ofthosetriedbythemilitarycourts.5

CrimFH2316/95,ImadGhneimatv.StateofIsrael,IsrSC49(4),589,620.
SmadarBenNatan,AmongsttheirPeople:TheApplicationofIsraeliLawintheMilitaryCourtsintheTerritories,
TheoryandCriticism(43,Fall2014),p.45[Hebrew]
4
NetanelBenisho,CriminalLawinJudea,SamariaandtheGazaStrip:TrendsandOutlooks,MishpatveTzava
(=HebrewIDFLawReview)(18,57652005),293,p.306[Hebrew].
5
SeeAharonMishnayot,TheLawandJurisdictioninJudeaandSamaria:BetweentheCurrentSituationandthe
DesirableSituation(notyetpublished,availableontheSSRNwebsite)(Hebrew;Englishabstract);seealsoZvi
LeckachandAmirDahan,99.9%ConvictionRateinIsraelDistortionofJusticeorJustDistortionofStatistics,
HaifaLawReview(5,2010),185,seepp.200201[Hebrew].
3

As this report shows, at least with respect to remand proceedings, which are some of the most
significantproceedingsmilitarycourtspresideover,theapplicationofIsraelilawismerelyaformality
andhasnotledtoimprovedprotectionoftherightsofPalestiniandefendants.


ThemilitaryjusticesystemintheWestBank
Immediatelyaftertheoccupationin1967,Maj.Gen.HaimHerzog,thecommanderoftheIDFforcesin
the West Bank, published a series of proclamations and military orders meant to establish the new
regime.6Intheorders,Maj.Gen.Herzogannouncedtheestablishmentofamilitaryruleintheoccupied
territory, this rules sovereignty and the transfer to it of the powers of government, legislation,
appointmentsandadministration.Theorderaddedthatthelawthathadbeenineffectintheoccupied
territoryuntilthenwouldcontinuetoapply,subjecttochangestobemadebythecommanderofthe
JudeaandSamariaarea.7
According tothe Fourth Geneva Convention, whichgoverns theconductof an occupyingpower in an
occupied territory, local penal laws remain in effect, but the occupying power may revoke them in
cases where they constitute a threat to its security or an obstacle to the application of the present
Convention.Theoccupyingpowermaypassnewlegislationthatisnecessarytomaintaintheorderly
governmentoftheterritory,andtoensurethesecurityoftheOccupyingPower,ofthemembersand
property of the occupying forces or administration, and likewise of the establishments and lines of
communicationusedbythem.8
Theoccupyingpowermay,accordingtotheConvention,establishmilitarycourtstotryresidentsofthe
occupiedterritorywhohavebrokenthelawsthatithaspassed.However,basedontheunderstanding
that without a state to protect their interests, these residents are more vulnerable and need special
protection, the Convention stipulates a number of conditions for the establishment of these courts.
Amongstotherthings,thecourtsmustbelocatedinsidetheoccupiedterritoryandmaynotbeusedasa
toolforpolitical or racialpersecution.Otherarticles intheConventionoblige theoccupying powerto
protect the rights of detainees and defendants and establish a series of basic standards guaranteeing
dueprocess.9
In accordance with these conditions, the commander of the IDF forces in the West Bank issued
Proclamation No. 3, to which was appended the Order regarding Security Provisions. In this
proclamation,theOCoftheCommandorderedtheestablishmentofmilitarycourts,determinedwhich
procedureswouldbeinforceandthecrimesoverwhichthecourtwouldpreside.10

SimilarorderswereissuedwithrespecttotheGazaStrip.TheyremainedinforceuntilIsraelswithdrawalfrom
GazainSeptember2005.
7
ProclamationregardingAssumptionofPowerbytheIDF(No.1)57271967;Proclamationregardingthe
RegulationofAdministrationandLaw(WestBank)(No.2)57271967.
8
Convention(IV)relativetotheProtectionofCivilianPersonsinTimeofWar(hereinafter:FourthGeneva
Convention),Art.64.
9
FourthGenevaConvention,Arts.6777;seealsoJeanS.Pictet(ed.),CommentaryIVGenevaConvention
RelativetotheProtectionofCivilianPersonsinTimeofWar,ICRC,Geneva,1958,pp.339341;YaelRonen,supra
note1,p.43.
10
ProclamationregardingtheEntryintoEffectoftheOrderregardingSecurityProvisions(WestBank)(No.3)5727
1967;OrderregardingSecurityProvisions,57271967;OrderregardingtheEstablishmentofMilitaryCourts(No.3)
57271967.Theseprovisionswerelaterconsolidatedintooneorder:OrderregardingSecurityProvisions

Today,themilitarycourtsystemincludesseveralcourtsindifferentinstances.Twocourtsoperateinthe
West Bank as courts of first instance: The Judea Court is located in the Ofer military base and the
SamariaCourtislocatedattheSalemmilitarybase.Fourmorebranchesofthemilitarycourtsoperate
insideIsrael,adjacenttointerrogationcentersoftheIsraelSecurityAgency(ISA,formerlyknownasthe
General Security Service or by the Hebrew acronym Shabak). In these courts, military judges preside
over hearings on extending the detention of interrogatees. As of 2009, a Military Juvenile Court has
been operating at the Ofer military base. The base is also home to the Military Courtof Appeals, the
MilitaryCourtforAdministrativeDetentionandtheMilitaryCourtofAppealsregardingAdministrative
Detention.11
ThemilitarycourtsystemisheadedbythepresidentoftheMilitaryCourtofAppeals,anofficerholding
the rank of colonel. The head of the courts of first instance is an officer with the rank of lieutenant
colonel. Eleven judges served on the courts of first instance in 2013. During the same period, three
judgesservedonthecourtofappeals.12Reservesoldierswithlegaltraining,mostofthemlawyers,serve
asjudgesalongsidethemilitaryjudges.13
Themilitarycourtshavejurisdictionovertwotypesofoffenses.Thefirstisknownassecurityoffenses,
andincludesanyoffenseenumeratedinthesecuritylegislationandinstatute.Thejurisdictionofthe
military courts applies whether the offense was committed in areas under the control of the Israeli
military,outsidetheWestBankorinareasAandB,whichhavebeentransferredtothePA,aslongasit
breachedorwasintendedtobreachthesecurityofthearea.14Thesecondtypeisoffensesregarded
asathreattopublicorderparticularlytrafficviolationsbutalsocriminaloffensesthatarenotdefined
assecurityoffenses.15
Every year, the military prosecution files thousands of indictments against Palestinians to the military
courts,whichdividethemintofivecategories:

Hostileterroristactivitysuchasmilitarytraining,firearmsviolationsormembershipinillegal
associations.

Public disturbances which mainly relate to throwing stones and Molotov cocktails and
participatingindemonstrations

IllegalentryintoIsrael

Criminaloffenses

Trafficviolations

[ConsolidatedVersion](JudeaandSamaria)(No.1651)57702009(hereinafter:OrderregardingSecurity
Provisions).
11
ForahistoryofstructuralandproceduraldevelopmentsinthemilitaryjusticesystemseeMishnayot,supranote
5,pp.47;YeshDin,BackyardProceedings:TheImplementationofDueProcessRightsintheMilitaryCourtsinthe
OccupiedTerritories,December2007,pp.3739.
12
See,MilitaryCourtsintheJudeaandSamariaArea,AnnualActivityReport2013[Hebrew].
13
Formoreonthestructureandpowersofthemilitarycourtsystem,seeYeshDin,BackyardProceedings,supra
note11.pp.4556.
14
OrderregardingSecurityProvisions,Section10.
15
Formore,seeYaelRonen,supranote1,pp.744745.

IndictmentsagainstPalestiniansbetween2008and2013,accordingtotypeofviolation16
Hostile
terrorist
activity

Public
Disturbances

Illegal Entry Criminal


toIsrael

Traffic

Total

2008

2,584

593

1,771

666

2,706

8,320

2009

1,962

662

1,628

648

3,559

8,459

2010

1,405

707

1,887

629

3,888

8,516

2011

1,123

721

1,180

707

4,904

8,635

2012

1,319

861

1,358

514

3,224

7,276

2013

1,854

886

1,751

604

3,755

8,850

Officially, military courts are authorized to try anyone who commits an offense in the West Bank,
includingsettlers,IsraelicitizensresidinginIsrael,andforeigncitizens.However,intheearly1980s,the
AttorneyGeneraldecidedthatIsraelicitizenswouldbetriedintheIsraeliciviliancourtsystemaccording
toIsraelipenallaws,eveniftheyliveintheoPtandtheviolationwascommittedintheoPtagainstoPt
residents.Thatpolicyremainsineffect.17

16

MilitaryCourtsintheJudeaandSamariaArea,AnnualActivityReport2012,p.13[Hebrew];AnnualActivity
Report2013,p.8[Hebrew].
17
SeeIDFSpokespersonsresponsetoYeshDin,BackyardProceedings,supranote11,p.59.Formoreonthis,see
Mishnayot,supranote5,pp.2425;AssociationforCivilRightsinIsrael,OneRule,TwoLegalSystems:Israels
RegimeofLawsintheWestBank,November2014,pp.3139.


Legalbackground:Therighttolibertyandremandincustody
Therighttolibertyisentrenchedinaseriesofinternationalconventionsdealingwithhumanrights.Like
many other rights, the right to liberty is not absolute and there are situations in which it may be
infringed,yetonlyiftheinfringementisproportionalandcarriedoutinaccordancewiththerestrictions
enumeratedintheseconventions.
TheInternationalCovenantonCivilandPoliticalRights(ICCPR)specifiesalistofrulesthatstatesmust
uphold when handling persons suspected of breaking the law. The ICCPR prohibits arbitrary arrest or
detentionandobligestheauthoritiestoinformindividuals,atthetimeoftheirarrest,ofthereasonsfor
it and the charges against them. Furthermore, individuals must be brought before a judge or other
judicialauthorityimmediatelyaftertheirarrest,andmustbetriedwithinareasonableamountoftime.18
The right to liberty is also anchored in Israeli law. Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty states that,
there shall be no deprivation or restriction of the liberty of a person by imprisonment, arrest,
extradition or otherwise.19 No encroachment on liberty will be made except by a law befitting the
values of the State of Israel, enacted for a proper purpose, and to an extent no greater than is
required.20ThejusticesoftheIsraeliSupremeCourthaverepeatedlystressedthecautionthatmustbe
exercised before encroaching on a persons right to liberty. Thus, for example, Justice Yitzhak Zamir
wrote:
Personal liberty is a constitutional right of the first order and it is also, in practical
terms,aconditionfortheexerciseofotherbasicrights.Theharmcausedtopersonal
liberty,asastonehittingwater,createsarippleeffectofharmtootherbasicrights:
Not just to freedom of movement but also to freedom of expression, the right to
privacy,therighttopropertyandotherrights.21
TheseremarkswereadoptedbythemilitarycourtsintheWestBank.ThenVicePresidentoftheMilitary
CourtofAppealsLieut.Col.NetanelBenishowrote:
Thereisnoneedtoelaborateontheimportanceoftherighttoliberty.Thisisaright
of the first order compared even to other fundamental rights which ought to be
grantedtoeveryhumanbeingassuch[]Itappearsthatthereisnoneedtoprovide
any sort of proof that this right applies in the area, even if it has not been
constitutionallyenacted,asithasinIsrael.22
Remandincustodymakesitpossibletodetainapersonwhohasbeenindictedpendingtheconclusion
ofhisorhertrial.Assuch,itisasevereviolationoftherighttoliberty,astherightisdenied,oftenfora
lengthyperiodoftime,evenbeforetheindividualhasbeenconvictedorsentenced.
18

InternationalCovenantonCivilandPoliticalRights(hereinafter:ICCPR),1966,Art.9.
BasicLaw:HumanDignityandLiberty,Sec.5(EnglishtranslationavailableonKnessetwebsite).
20
Ibid.,Sec.8.
21
HCJ6055/95,SagiTzemahv.MinisterofInterioretal.,IsrSC53(5)241,261.
22
AA3603/05,BaselHusamMuhammadDuasv.MilitaryProsecutor.
19

Internationallawdoesnotsetouttheconditionsthatmustbefulfilledforajudgetobeabletoorder
remandincustody.However,itdoesestablishlimitationsontheuseofthistool.TheICCPRstatesthat,
in general, persons may not be remanded in custody, although courts may stipulate conditions for
release.23TheHumanRightsCommittee,whichoverseestheimplementationoftheICCPR,determined
thebasicprinciplesthataremeanttoapplyinthismatterandtolimitthecasesinwhichdefendantsare
remandedincustodyforthedurationofthejudicialproceedingsagainstthem:
Detentionpendingtrialmustbebasedonanindividualizeddeterminationthatitis
reasonable and necessary taking into account all the circumstances, for such
purposesastopreventflight,interferencewithevidenceortherecurrenceofcrime.
The relevant factors should be specified in law and should not include vague and
expansive standards such as public security. Pretrial detention should not be
mandatory for all defendants charged with a particular crime without regard to
particular circumstances. Neither should pretrial detention be ordered for a period
based on the potential sentence for the crime charged, rather than on a
determination of necessity. Courts must examine whether alternatives to pretrial
detention, such as bail, electronic bracelets or other conditions, would render
detention unnecessary in the particular case [] Pretrial detention of juveniles
shouldbeavoidedtothefullestextentpossible.24
Contrary to these principles, military legislation does not determine the conditions required for
remanding individuals in custody and does not uphold the obligation to consider alternatives to
detention, especially regarding minors. The Order regarding Security Provisions states only that the
military courts are authorized to extend detention pending the end of proceedings.25 The order also
statesthatasuspectwhohasbeenremandedincustodymayaskthecourtatanytimeforareviewof
thedecisionifnewfactsarediscovered.Ifnonewfactsarediscovered,arequestforreviewmaybefiled
oneyearafterthearrestandeverysixmonthsthereafter.26
Whilethemilitaryorderdoessetlimitsontheperiodofremand,itstillallowsforlengthydetention:Ifa
trial does not begin within 60 days, the detainee must be brought before a Military Court of Appeals
judgewhowillorderhisorherreleaseunlessthejudgebelievesthatthecircumstanceswhichjustified
the original detention persist.27 In the case of a defendant charged with security offenses, if the trial
doesnotendwithin18months,oroneyearifthedefendantisaminor,orifthecaseinvolvesanon
security related crime, the suspect will be brought before a Military Court of Appeals judge, who will
orderhisorherreleaseunlessthejudgebelievescontinueddetentionisjustified.Inthiscase,thejudge
may extend the detention by six months (or three months in the case of a minor.) The judge may
continuetoextendthedetentioninsubsequenthearings.28

23

ICCPR,Art.9(c).
HumanRightsCommittee,GeneralcommentNo.35:Article9(Libertyandsecurityofperson),Adoptedbythe
Committeeatits112thsession(731October2014),para.38.
25
OrderregardingSecurityProvisions,Sec.43.
26
Ibid.,Sec.47.
27
Ibid.,Sec.43a.
28
Ibid.,Sec.44.
24

10

These rules were introduced only in April 2014, following petitions filed by the Association for Civil
Rights in Israel and the Ministry for Prisoners Affairs in the PA. The petitions demanded that the
durationofdetentionpermittedundermilitarylaw,includingremandincustody,parallelthoseallowed
byIsraelilaw.29Untiltheamendment,militarylawhadnoprovisionrelatingtothetrialcommencement
date.Theonlyrestrictiononremandincustodywasthatitwouldnotexceedtwoyears,regardlessof
thetypeofcrimeortheageofthedefendant.
Evenaftertheamendment,detentionundermilitarylawremainsoflongerdurationthanunderIsraeli
law,whichstipulatesthatifthetrialdoesnotcommencewithin30daysafterindictment,thedefendant
mustbereleased.30Thelawgoesontostatethatdefendantsmustalsobereleasedifthetrialdoesnot
concludewithinninemonths,orsixmonthsifthedefendantisaminor.31AjusticeoftheSupremeCourt
may extend the remand by 90 additional days and up to 150 days, if he or shebelieves that this is
justifiedbytypeofcrimeorthecomplexityofthecase.Anorderofextensionmayberepeatedmultiple
times.32 In the case of a minor, the justice may extend the remand for no more than 45 days.33 With
regardtominorsundertheageof14,Israelilawabsolutelyprohibitsremandincustodyuntiltheendof
proceedings.34
Because of these differences, the Supreme Court demanded further explanations from the state
regarding the duration of remand in military law.35 In an update submitted to the court in February
2015,thestatewrotethatitintendedtofurthershortenthedurationofremandandthatstaffworkon
this matter was in the final stage of preparation. The state claimed that shortening the duration of
remandperiodshadbudgetaryimplications and askedthe courttoallowittosubmitanotherupdate
afterthe2015BudgetLawwasapproved.36
Asthemilitaryorderdoesnotstipulateconditionsfororderingremand,militarycourtshavedecidedto
follow the Israeli law on arrests. Thus, for example, then President of the Military Court Col. Shaul
GordondeterminedthateventhoughthereisnodisputingthefactthattheprovisionsoftheCriminal
ProcedureLaw(PowersofEnforcementArrests)1996,donotapplyintheArea(JudeaandSamaria),
wenevertheless,asarule,instructourselvestoactinaccordancewiththeprinciplesoutlinedtherein.37

29

HCJ3368/10PalestinianMinistryofPrisonersAffairsetal.v.MinisterofDefenseetal.andHCJ4057/10
AssociationforCivilRightsinIsraeletal.v.IDFCommanderintheJudeaandSamariaAreaetal.
30
CriminalProcedureLaw(EnforcementPowersArrests),57561996(hereinafter:LawofArrests),Sec.60.
31
Ibid.,Sec.61.Forminors,seeTheJuvenileLaw(Adjudication,PenaltiesandTreatment)57311971(hereinafter:
JuvenileLaw),Sec.10.12.
32
LawofArrests,Sec.62.
33
JuvenileLaw,Sec.10.13.
34
Ibid.,Sec.10.10.
35
HCJ3368/10PalestinianMinistryofPrisonersAffairsetal.v.MinisterofDefenseetal.andHCJ4057/10The
AssociationforCivilRightsinIsraeletal.v.IDFCommanderintheJudeaandSamariaAreaetal.,Partial
judgment,issued6April2014.
36
HCJ3368/10PalestinianMinistryofPrisonersAffairsetal.v.MinisterofDefenseetal.andHCJ4057/10The
AssociationforCivilRightsinIsraeletal.v.IDFCommanderintheJudeaandSamariaAreaetal.,Updating
NoticeonbehalfoftheState,25February2015.
37
AA157/00,MilitaryProsecutorv.YusefAbdalHadiAbuSalim;seealsoAA115/02MilitaryProsecutorv.
MuhammadNayefSalimHajHussein,AA3603/05,supranote22,Benisho,supranote4,p.314.

11

The Israeli Law of Arrests stipulates that in order for a judge to be authorized to order remand in
custody, three cumulative conditions must be met: the presence of prima facie evidence of guilt, the
presence of one of the grounds for detention enumerated in the law and the absence of applicable
alternativestodetention.38Furtheroninthisreport,wewillexaminehowtheseprincipleshavebeen
interpretedbythemilitarycourts.

Figures
RemandincustodyintheWestBank
The Military Court Unit does not publish figures on the number of defendants who are remanded to
custodyeachyear.BTselemsrequestsforthesefigureshavebeenrejectedwiththeexplanationthat
theyarenotavailableelectronically.Theonlyfigureavailableisthenumberofdefendantswhowerein
remandattheendofeachyearandthedurationoftheirarrest.Thefiguresarepresentedinthetable
below:
Individualsinremandattheendofacalendaryear:39
Year

2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013

Number of individuals Underarrestforupto Under arrest between Under arrest for


inremandattheendof oneyear
oneandtwoyears
more than two
theyear
years
1,791
1,378
385
28
944
235
27
*1,205
695
605
79
11
706
622
78
6
1,083
965
111
7
151
1,507
1,343
13

*errorinoriginal.
We contacted the Military Prosecutor for the Judea and Samaria Area Lieut. Col. Maurice Hirsch for
informationaboutthemilitaryprosecutionspolicyonremand.Ourinquiryhasnotbeenansweredto
date.40
BTselemalsocontactedtheIDFSpokespersonforinformationaboutthenumberofcasesinwhichthe
military prosecution asked for remand and the number of cases in which the court granted the
request.41 It took six months for the IDF Spokesperson to provide BTselem with a response, which
related to a single workweek.42 According to the IDF Spokesperson, this was because detention
proceedings are not entered into the computer system, and therefore, providing figures would

38

LawofArrests,Sec.21.
MilitaryCourtsintheJudeaandSamariaArea,AnnualActivityReport2012,p.18[Hebrew];MilitaryCourtsin
theJudeaandSamariaArea,AnnualActivityReport2013,p.13[Hebrew].
40
LetterfromBTselemtoLieut.Col.MauriceHirsch,MilitaryProsecutorfortheJudeaandSamariaArea,24
December2013.
41
LetterfromBTselemtoMaj.ZoharHalevy,HeadofHumanRightsandPublicLiaisonDepartment,IDF
Spokesperson,24April2014.
42
LettertoBTselemfromPublicLiaisonDepartment,IDFSpokesperson,7October2014.
39

12

constitute unreasonable allocation of resource under Section 8(1) of the Freedom of Information
Act.43Theinformationthatwasprovidedislistedbelow:

Militarycourtrulingsregardingremandfor1014August,2014:
Prosecution
askedfor
remandin
custody
pending
completionof
proceedings
26

Motion became Motiongranted


moot
Pleabargain

Motiondenied

29

27

22 (one
overturnedon
appeal)
23

1
32

15

15

1(overturned
onappeal)
1(overturned
onappeal)
2

0
86

19

60

Typeofoffense

Hostile terrorist 26
activity
Public
disturbances
Criminal

Exiting
the 40
West
Bank
without
a
permit
Trafficviolation 64
160
Total

According to these figures, discounting traffic violations, the military prosecution routinely asks for
remandincustody,andsuchmotionsweremadein90%ofthecases.Themilitarycourts,fortheirpart,
grantthesemotionsinthevastmajorityofthecases,and90%ofthemweregrantedincasesinwhich
thecourtoffirstinstancemadeadecision.
Theprosecutionappealedinfourofthesevencasesinwhichthecourtrejecteditsmotion.Twoofthe
appealsweregrantedandthedefendantsremainedincustody(oneonpublicdisturbancechargesand
theotheroncriminalcharges).Athirdwasdenied.Inthefourthcase,adecisionhadnotbeenmadeat
the time the response was sent. The defense appealed in three cases. One appeal was granted (a
terrorismcharge)andthedefendantwasreleased.Theothertwoappealsweredenied.Intotal,during
that week, the prosecutions motion was granted in 91% of the cases in which the court made a
decision.
BTselem also asked to receive the transcripts of remand proceedings held both in the court of first
instance and in the appellate instance. The information was very difficult to obtain. BTselem first
contacted the IDF Spokesperson on this matter in November 2011.44 After a lengthy correspondence
with various units inside the Israeli military, including the IDF Spokesperson and the Military Courts
43

LettertoBTselemfromPublicLiaisonDepartment,IDFSpokesperson,4December2014.
LetterfromBTselemtoSec.Lieut.RotemNissim,HumanRightsandPublicLiaisonDepartment,IDF
Spokesperson,22November2011.
44

13

Unit,45 in March 2012, BTselem received decisions made by the appellate court over a fourmonth
period.InlateJune2012,BTselemwassent260additionaltranscriptsofhearingsheldbythecourtof
firstinstanceregardingremand.Thematerialswerecollectedfromhearingsheldonpreselecteddates
inordertohavearepresentativesample.
Heretoo,dataanalysisshowsthatthecourtsoffirstinstancetendtogranttheprosecutionsmotions
for remand. In 127 of the 260 cases, there was no hearing. In 105, this was due to a motion for
extensionfiledbythedefense,andintheremainingcases,duetotechnicalreasonssuchasdefendant
lackingcounselormissingdocumentsinthefile.Thebreakdownofthedecisionsintheremaining133
casesastotheprosecutionsmotionforremandareasfollows:

In 24 cases, the military judge ordered the defendants conditional release. In one case, the
partiesreachedanagreementonapleabargainimmediatelyafterthedecisionwasrendered,
becauseofthehighbailsetbythemilitaryjudge.
Intheremaining109files(82%),themilitaryjudgeorderedremandincustodyfortheduration
ofproceedings.In75ofthesecases,thedefenseconsented.

A review of the decisions of the appellate court that were provided to BTselem shows a higher
incidenceofacceptanceofprosecutionappealscomparedtodefenseappeals.Sixtyeightoftheappeals
providedtoBTselemrelatedtoremandincustody.Theyincludedtwocasesinwhichbothpartiesfiled
anappeal.Oftheseappeals:

30werefiledbythedefense.12wereaccepted(40%)andthedefendantswerereleased.
38 were filed by the prosecution. 25 were accepted (65%) and the defendants remained in
custody.

Figuresfor2012and2013indicateasimilartrend:46

Defenseappeals
2012 130(29accepted=22%)
2013 166(62accepted=37%)

Prosecutionappeals
129(59accepted=46%)
63(40accepted=53%)

RemandincustodyinIsrael
Likethemilitaryjusticesystem,theIsraelijusticesystemdoesnotpublishfiguresonremandincustody.
BTselemcontactedIsraelsJudicialAuthorityforinformationaboutthenumberofremandmotionsand
thedecisionsmadebythecourt,butittoorespondedthatthefigurescannotbestatisticallyextracted
fromtheAuthorityscomputerizeddatabase.Therefore,theycannotbeproduced.47

45

LetterfromBTselemtoMilitaryCourtsUnit,2January2012;LetterstoMaj.ZoharHalevy,HeadofHuman
RightsandPublicLiaisonDepartment,IDFSpokesperson,9January2012and22February2012;Letterfrom
B'TselemtoLieut.Col.RobertNeufeld,MilitaryCourtsUnitAdministrationOfficeratJudeaandSamariaArea
MilitaryProsecution,15March2012;LettertoBTselemfromMaj.ZoharHalevy,HeadofHumanRightsandPublic
LiaisonDepartment,IDFSpokesperson,1April2014.
46
LettertoBTselemfromPublicLiaisonDepartment,IDFSpokesperson,13April2014.
47
LettertoBTselemfromSharonSabanSafrai,FreedomofInformationOfficer,MinistryofJustice,17December
2014.

14

Informationpublishedinvariouscontextsshowsthattherehasbeenasignificantincreaseinremandin
custodyinrecentyears.Accordingtothe2013activityreportofthePublicDefendersOffice,therewere
6,080casesofremandincustodyinIsraelin1998.In2013thenumberclimbedto20,082.48Accordingto
figurespresentedbythenDeputy Public DefenderYoavSapir,theproportion ofremandcases among
thegeneralnumberofarrestshasalsoincreasedovertheyears.In1998remandcasesaccountedfor
15% of the total number of arrests. In 2009, they accounted for 27% of the total number of arrests,
thoughthenumberofindictmentsservedinthisperioddropped.49
One of the only studies on this issue was a statistical survey takenby theJudicial Authority Research
Department in May 2012. The survey, based on a sample of cases selected from the Magistrates and
DistrictCourtsbetweenMay2010andMay2011,foundasfollows:

In the Magistrates Courts, the prosecution demanded 27.4% of defendants prosecuted be


remandedincustody.Themotionwasgrantedinabouthalfthecases.
IntheDistrictCourts,theprosecutiondemanded87.7%ofdefendantsprosecutedberemanded
incustody.Themotionwasgrantedinabouttwothirdsofthecases.50

The study points tothe deep gulfbetween the situation inside Israel and thesituation in the military
court system, both with respect to the number of cases in which the military prosecution demands
remandincustodyandthenumberofcasesinwhichsuchmotionsaregrantedbythecourt.

48

MinistryofJustice,PublicDefendersOffice:ActivityReport2013,p.17[Hebrew].
SessionoftheKnessetsConstitutionLawandJusticeCommittee,28February2011.
50
OrenGazalAyal,InbalGalonandKerenWeinshallMargel,ConvictionandAcquittalsinIsraeliCourts,University
ofHaifaandJudicialAuthorityResearchDepartment,May2012,pp.2829[Hebrew].
49

15


Firstconditionforremandincustody:Primafacieevidence
The first condition for approving remand in custody under Israeli law is prima facie evidence of the
defendants guilt. Remand decisions are made at an early stage in the legal proceedings, before
witnessesareheardandbeforethedefendanthasachancetocrossexaminethem,whenjudgesarenot
yet able to make a decision on the quality of the investigation or the reliability of the witnesses.
Therefore,theevidencerequiredatthisstageneednotmeetthestandardrequiredforaconviction,and
isreferredtoasprimafacieevidence.

Whatisprimafacieevidence?
Israeli law does not clarify what the evidence must include in order to be considered prima facie
evidence.Clarificationswereattemptedthroughcaselaw.Justice(asthentitled)MeirShamgarruled:
It is impossible to formulate precise criteria to be used by the court when it
comparesdifferentarguments.Itisclearandsimplethatthecourtwillfirstexamine
whether there is prima facie evidence to support the allegations made by the
Prosecution, and then proceed to examine whether counter testimony may
undermineordenytheplausibilityoftheaccountofferedbytheProsecution.Atthis
point,thecourtshouldconsider,asstated,thenatureofthecontradictingevidence,
forinstance,therelationshipbetweenthewitnessandthesuspect,thepossibilityof
humanerroronthepartofallpartiesvisvisadescriptionthatseems,ontheface
ofit,morecertain,andothersuchconsiderations,whicharetheresultoforganizing
the material that has been collected up to the relevant stage and the product of
judicialperspectiveandgenerallifeexperience.51
FormerChiefJusticeoftheSupremeCourt,JusticeAharonBarak,madeasimilarrulingwhenpresiding
inanexpanded,ninejusticepanel.Barakthoughttheguidingquestionwaswhetherthenatureofthe
evidence,inthecontextoftheoverallevidenceavailableatthisstageissuchthatthereisareasonable
chance that this evidence would, at the end of the criminal proceeding, become ordinary evidence
which on its own or as part of other potential evidence, would serve to properly determine the
defendantsguilt.Barakproceededtoclarify:
IfdoubtplaguestheevidenceonwhichtheProsecutionbasesthecharges,asortof
geneticdefectthatwillnotberemovedduringtrial,theevidencenolongerhasthe
potential evidentiary force required to give rise to reasonable prospects for
conviction. Note well: the question is not whether the Prosecutions evidence
allegedlyprovesthedefendantsguiltbeyondreasonabledoubt.Rather,thetestis
whether the investigative material the Prosecution possesses contains evidentiary

51

MApp322/80StateofIsraelv.YehiamOhana,IsrSC35(1)359,363.

16

potentialthatcould,attheendofthetrial,provethedefendantsguiltasrequiredin
acriminaltrial.52
Thiscaselawstipulatesarelativelylowthresholdthatposesnoobstacletotheprosecution.Asargued
in critical legal literature, if the case lacked evidence that could potentially lead to a conviction, the
prosecutionwouldlikelyhavenotfiledanindictmenttobeginwith.53
Military court judges have declared that they are guided by this case law whendecidingwhether the
prosecutionhasmetthethresholdforprimafacieevidence.54However,aswedemonstratebelow,even
thelowthresholdsetbyJusticeBarakhasalmostentirelydisappearedfromthemilitarycourtsystem,
andmilitaryjudgesoftenrulethattheprosecutionhasmettheprimafacieevidencethresholdevenin
cases in which the evidence is thin, where there were difficulties obtaining statements or when the
prosecutionsevidencecontainsinconsistencies.

Evidencecommonlyusedinmilitarycourts
InformationprovidedtoBTselem bylawyers whorepresentPalestiniandefendants,and observations
BTselemhasheldinmilitarycourtsindicatethatinthevastmajorityofcases,theindictmentsarebased
onconfessionsandincriminatingtestimonies,withoutotheradmissibleevidence.
Oneoftheissueswithrelyingonthistypeofevidenceisthattheprocessbywhichitisobtained,during
ISA or police investigations, often involves human rights violations. This report does not focus on this
issue,butithasbeenthesubjectofmanypublicationsinthepastanditisessentialforunderstanding
the difficulties of relying, almost exclusively, on confessions and incriminating testimonies. Over the
years, BTselem and other human rights organizations have reported abuse and other inhuman and
degrading treatment during ISA interrogations, sometimes amounting to torture.55 In addition,
Palestiniandetaineesareroutinelydeniedtherighttoconferwithcounsel,whomayadvisethemand
protecttheirrights.56Interrogationofminorsalsoofteninvolvesaviolationoftheirrights.Minorsare
oftenarrestedinthemiddleofthenight,interrogatedwithoutthepresenceoftheirparentsoranother
adult who looks after their interests, by interrogators who are not necessarily youth investigators,
withoutbeinggiventheoptionofobtainingcounselandafterasleeplessnight.Theyarethenforcedto
signstatementswritteninalanguagetheydonotunderstandandaresubjectedtootherviolations.57
52

CrimApp8087/95ShlomoZadav.StateofIsrael,IsrSC50(2)133,148.SeealsoremarksmadebyJusticeKedmi
inCrimApp825/98StateofIsraelv.MahmoudDahleh,52(1)625.
53
See,RinatKitaiSangero,Detention:DenyingLibertybeforetheVerdict,NevoPublishing,2011,p.271[Hebrew].
ForfurthercriticismoftheZadarulesee,GideonGinat,PrimaFacieEvidence.IsitnottimetorevisittheZada
casetests?,Hasanegor,(181,April2012)[Hebrew].
54
Seeremarksof(former)PresidentoftheMilitaryCourtofAppeals,Col.ShaulGordoninAA168&AA166/00,
MilitaryProsecutorv.M.A.andA.A.Seealso,remarksofMilitaryJudgeLieut.Col.RonenAtzmoninAA1329&
AA1331,MilitaryProsecutionv.MuazAbdShakerHamamrehandDiaaMariAbdalFatahHamamreh.
55
See,e.g.BTselemandHaMoked:CenterfortheDefenceoftheIndividual,AbsoluteProhibition:TheTortureand
IllTreatmentofPalestinianDetainees,May2007;KeptintheDark:TreatmentofPalestinianDetaineesinthe
PetachTikvaInterrogationFacilityoftheIsraelSecurityAgency,October2010.
56
Ibid.SeealsoThePublicCommitteeAgainstTortureinIsraelandNadialAsirPalestinianPrisonerSociety,
WhentheExceptionBecomestheRule:IncommunicadoDetentionofPalestinianSecurityDetainees,October2010.
57
Formoreinformationsee,B'Tselem,NoMinorMatter:ViolationoftheRightsofPalestinianMinorsArrestedby
IsraelonSuspicionofStoneThrowing,July2011.

17

Another issue that is unique to this type of evidence is the fact that confessions and incriminating
testimoniesareusuallycollectedinArabic.MilitaryprosecutorsandjudgesdonotoftenspeakArabic,
andarethereforeforcedtorelyontranslationsintoHebrew.Insomecases,areviewoftheconfession
given in the original language reveals that the cause for the arrest was an error that originated in
mistranslationorerrorsintranscribingthematerial.58
As detailedbelow: there are other significant difficulties associated with relying almost exclusively on
confessionsorincriminatingtestimony,particularlyinremandproceedings:

Confessions
In remand hearings, military court judges tend to attribute a great deal of weight to defendant
confessions. The presence of confessions is usually sufficient for a ruling that there is prima facie
evidenceinthecase.
JudgesinIsraelsciviliancourtsalsoattributeagreatdealofweighttoconfessionsofguilt,partlybased
ontheassumptionthatpeoplewouldnotincriminatethemselvesforactionstheydidnotcommit.But
thisassumptionhasbeenharshlycriticizedinthepast.TheGoldbergCommission,whichwasappointed
tolookintoconvictionsbasedsolelyonconfessions,publisheditsconclusionsinDecember1994.Oneof
theassertionsmadebytheCommissionwasthat:Thenotionthataconfessiongivenbythedefendant
during interrogation is the queen of evidence should be taken with a grain of salt. The presumption
that a person does not sethimself out to be wicked, in the sense that a persondoes not incriminate
himself if he is innocent, cannot be accepted as a judicial presumption. With this in mind, the
Commissiondeterminedthataconfessionshouldbetreatedasanyotherevidence,andthatdefendants
couldbeconvictedbasedontheirconfessiononlywhenthereisother,independentevidencetoprove
thecommissionoftheoffense.59
FormerSupremeCourtJusticeDaliaDorneraddressedthetroublewithrelyingonconfessions:
Adefendantsconfessionissuspectevidence,evenwhenitwasnotgivenasaresult
ofexternalpressurethatwasputonthedefendant.Thisissobecausewhenthereis
no other solid evidence that could prove the defendants guilt even without a
confession, confessing is often an irrational act, and taking the irrational step of
giving a confession, per se, raises doubts as to the veracity of the confession. This
doubt is not purely theoretical. It has been proven more than once in human
experience.60
Experts on criminal law have also addressed these difficulties. Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer says:
Wehaveknownformanyyearsthatthispresumptionthataconfessionisthequeenofevidencedoes

58

See.e.g.,AAS/3094/14,T/3134/14,AA.v.MilitaryProsecution.
ReportoftheCommissionontheMatterofConvictionsBasedExclusivelyonConfessionsandCausesfor
Retrial,December1994[Hebrew].Seeinparticular,theopinionofProf.MordechaiKremnitzer,pp.6466.Onthis
issue,seealsoDaliaDorner,TheQueenofEvidencev.TareqNujeidattheDangerofFalseConfessionsandHow
toHandleIt,Hapraklit(49(1),2006),p.7[Hebrew];BoazSangero,ConfessionasGroundsforConvictionQueen
ofEvidenceorEmpressofFalseConvictions?,AleyMishpat(4,2005),p.254[Hebrew].
60
CrimFH4342/97,StateofIsraelv.alAbid,IsrSC51(1)736,836.
59

18

notholdupinreality,becausepeopledoconfesstothingstheydidnotdo.61Dr.BoazSangeroasserts
that:
Peopleconfesseventothingstheydidntdo.Inthepastpeopletendedtothinkthat
this couldhappen only to weak people minors, the mentally retarded, etc. but
today, we know that it can happen to anyone. Even entirely rational people can
make a false confession. [ []]And not only do they pressure him to confess, they
alsosaytheresnochancethathewillbeacquitted,sohesevenmoretemptedby
theoffer.62
Inanycase,accordingtothelaw,adefendantsconfessionisadmissibleonlyiftheprosecutionproves
thatitwasgivenfreelyandwillingly63.However,duringarrestextensionhearings,thejudgesdonot
lookintowhethertheconfessionmeetsthesecriteria,claimingthatsuchcontentionsrequireamorein
depthreview,andthereforeshouldbeconsideredonlyattrial.
Basedonthiscaselaw,militarycourtshavealsorejectedargumentsmadebydefendantsduringarrest
extension hearings that their confessions had been obtained using violence or other unacceptable
methods.MilitaryJudgeLieut.Col.ZviLeckachruled,forinstance,thatclaimsregardingpressureand
defectsintheinterrogationshouldberaisedduringthehearingofthemaincase.64MilitaryJudgeCol.
AharonMishnayotclarified:
It goes without saying that the interrogation of an adult should also be conducted
fairlyandthathisrightsanddignitymustberespected.However,atthisstage,itis
still too early to make a determination that these rights were violated during the
Respondents interrogation. Findings and conclusions on this issue are best left for
thetrialcourt.65
Itwasonlyinrarecases,usuallyofminorswhoserightswereviolatedduringtheirinterrogation,that
judgesorderedtheconditionalreleaseofthedefendant.However,nobindingcaselawrequiringrelease
insuchcaseshasbeenproducedandthematterremainsatthediscretionofthejudges.
So, for example, a 14andahalfyear old minor was charged with stone throwing. His lawyer, Neri
Ramati,arguedthattheminorhadbeeninterrogatedalone,withoutaparentorotherrelativepresent
andwithoutbeingallowedtoconferwithcounsel.MilitaryJudgeLieut.Col.NetanelBenisho,thenVice
PresidentoftheMilitaryCourtofAppeals,upheldthedecisiontoremandhimincustody,saying:Non
compliance withsaid directive doesnot renderthe evidence inadmissible, but may impact its weight.

61

RevitalHovelandRonnyLinderGanz,Prof.MordechaiKremnitzer:StateAttorneyConductinZadorovCase
Frightening,HaaretzWeekendMagazine,16October2014[Hebrew].
62
AyeletShani,Howyoucouldlandinjailforcommittingnocrime,HaaretzEnglishedition,9May2014
(originallypublishedinHebrewon17April2014).
63
EvidenceOrdinance(NewVersion),57311971,Sec.12(a)
64
AA1141/10&AA1131/10,MilitaryProsecutorv.EhabMuhammadJumahKhawajahandMuhannad Saadat
AbdalGhaniSrur.
65
AA1598/12MilitaryProsecutionv.MuaiadJawadSulimanBahar.

19

ThequestionoftheweightgiventotheAppellantsconfessionshouldthereforebeconsidered,asisthe
norm,duringthemainproceeding,withattentiontotheoverallrelevantevidence.66
Inanothercase,MilitaryJudgeLieut.Col.Benishoorderedthereleaseofa15yearoldminorwhowas
also charged with stone throwing. The defense lawyer, Avi Baram, argued that the youth had been
beatenwhileincustodyandinterrogatedinthemiddleofthenightbyanintelligencecoordinatorwho
wasnotayouthinvestigator,andwhotookdownhisconfessioninHebrew,withoutrecordingit.Lieut.
Col. Benisho ruled that these allegations must be examined during the main proceeding, but, did
proceedtoexaminethedefenselawyersarguments,determiningthat:Thoughnolegalflawhasbeen
foundintheinterrogationconductedinthiscase,thecumulativecircumstancesdescribedraiseastrong
sense that this interrogation lacked the appropriate level of fairness that would allow relying on it to
denytheAppellantsliberty.Thejudgethereforeorderedhisconditionalrelease.67
In another case, two minors under the age of 14 were charged with preparing Molotov cocktails and
improvised weapons, and throwing them at a checkpoint. Their lawyer, Iyad Miseq argued that there
were flaws in their investigation: they were stripsearched, interrogated at the scene rather than a
policestation,dressedonlyintheirundergarments,andtheinterrogationwasnotconductedbyayouth
investigator. Adv. Miseq also said that one of the youths had been beaten and that the interrogators
promised the two that they would be released if they confessed. Military Judge Lieut. Col. Ronen
Atzmon rejected their appeal, stating: I do not see fit to determine at this stage that the affidavit is
correct,orthatitpullstherugfromunderthestatementsgiven,orreducestheirweighttothepoint
wheretheycannolongersupportaconviction.Shouldthedefensedeemitappropriatetocounterthe
interrogatorsaccountwiththeAppellantsallegationsitwouldhavetodosoduringtrial.68

Incrimination
Thesecondmostcommontypeofevidenceusedinmilitarycourtsisincrimination:statementsmadeby
others,suchasPalestiniansormembersofthesecurityforces,whichincriminatethedefendant.Judges
tend to attribute a high level of reliability to these incriminating statements at the arrest extension
stage, and one incriminating statement, even if it is inconsistent or unreliable, is usually sufficient for
meetingthelowthresholdforprimafacieevidence.
Unlike confessions, incriminating statements do not have to be given freely and willingly. Judges,
however, refuse to consider allegations about the reliability of incriminating statements. Any
examinationofinconsistenciesorallegationsofunreliabilityisdeferreduntilthetrial.So,forexample,in
onecaseinwhichapersonwaschargedwiththrowingasinglestoneatamilitaryjeepanddamaging
the jeeps body and windshield, the defendant claimed that he had not thrown stones and that the
soldiershadmisidentifiedhim.MilitaryJudgeLieut.Col.YoramHanielrejectedtheallegationandruled:
IsawaneedtoclarifyandstressthattheAppellantsargumentsconcernmattersof
reliability, in respect of which the court makes no decision at this stage in the
proceedings.Ifthedefenseisseekingtochallengethesoldiersidentificationofthe
Appellant and claim that the identification is not sufficiently substantiated, such
66

AA1027/10S.H.v.MilitaryProsecution.
AA2763/09A.A.v.MilitaryProsecution.
68
AA1628&AA1629/13A.H.andA.A.v.MilitaryProsecution.
67

20

claimshouldnotbebroughtatthisstageintheproceeding,butratheratthepointat
whichallevidenceisconsidered.Theadditionalallegationsmadebythedefensedo
notservetounderminetheevidenceitself,butratherseektoreevaluatetheweight
oftheprosecutionsevidence,andtherefore,shouldnotbeconsideredatthisstage,
whenthecourtonlyconsiderstheprimafacieevidence.69
In another case, a man was charged with membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine.Thedefendantarguedthathehadbeenincriminatedbytwoindividualswithwhomhehada
personal dispute. Military Judge Lieut. Col. Ronen Atzmon rejected the claim and ruled that, The
Appellantscontentionregardingadisputebetweenhimandthetwoindividualswhoincriminatedhim
does not provide sufficient cause, in my opinion, to rule at this early stage that the weight of the
evidenceinthiscasehasbeensignificantlyundermined.Thismattercanbedeliberatedanddecidedat
trial.70
It takes a serious defect for a military judge to rule that an incriminating statement is insufficient for
meetingtheprimafacieevidencerequirement,soserious,infact,thatitisalmostimpossibletofind.
Eveninacaseinwhichitwasproventhattheindividualswhogavetheincriminatingstatementshad
lied, at least about some of the information they gave, the judge ruled that the incrimination was
sufficient to meet the threshold for prima facie evidence and that the two false incriminating
statementssupportedoneanother.Inthiscase,fivePalestinianshadbeenchargedwithparticipatingin
demonstrations and stone throwing in Kafr Qadum. The evidence in the file included incriminating
statementsbytwoindividuals.MilitaryJudgeLieut.Col.Benishonotedthatbothindividualsseparately
incriminatedamanwhoitlateremergedhadbeeninprisonatthetimeoftheincidentinwhichhewas
allegedlyincriminated.Thejudgewrote:Thiserroneousincriminationcallsintoquestionthereliability
of the statements made by the witnesses. Such doubt is of the sort the court should address at the
arreststagealready,asitmaygototherootoftheevidence.YetLieut.Col.Benishowentontorule:
Evenifthewrongincriminationhasasignificantimpactonanyfindingofreliabilitywithrespecttothe
evidence,thewitnessmayhavebeenwrongaboutoneperson,butcorrectaboutothers[]Moreover,
the very fact that one person was named by two witnesses could lead to the conclusion that their
statementsaresufficientlysubstantiated.Thejudgedidnotrejecttheincrimination,butruledonlythat
significantexternalevidentiarysupportwasrequired,despitethefactthatthiswasanearlystagein
theproceedings.Suchevidentiarysupportwasfoundintheincriminatingstatementmadebytheother
witness, even though it too was deemed inaccurate. According to Military Judge Lieut. Col. Benisho,
there is nothing to preclude deficient evidence, such as the statement made by one of the
incriminatingindividuals,fromfindingsupportinanotherincriminatingstatement,evenifitisflawed.71
Insomecases,incriminatingstatementsaregiveninamethodtherulingsrefertoasthelistmethod.
List incriminations are usually found in incidents of suspected stonethrowing. The person giving the
incriminatingevidencegivesalonglistofnamesofpeoplewhoallegedlytookpartintheincident.The
Court of Appeals ruled that although a general, unspecified incriminating statement would not be
disqualifiedasevidence,itwouldnotalwaysmeetthethresholdofprimafacieevidence.MilitaryJudge
Lieut.Col.ZviLeckachhaswrittenthat:Whenthematterconcernsanincriminatingstatementinthe
69

AA1133/08IslamMuhammadQarishv.MilitaryProsecution.
AA1035/13AmjadAhedFouadSamhanv.MilitaryProsecution.
71
AA17701774/14MilitaryProsecutionv.MusabDaudMuhammadShteiwietal.
70

21

form of a list, without significant details and without required questions having been asked, it is
difficulttoattributefullweighttosuchevidence,evenatthisprimafaciephase.72
AccordingtomilitaryjudgeLieut.Col.Atzmon:
Alonglistofsuspectsmayconstituteprimafacieevidence.Itsweight,orthechance
that it may lead to a conviction, cannot be automatically discounted. However,
whetherornotthestatementandthelistarereliableshouldbeconsideredineach
case,andinsomecircumstances,suchmassincriminationsmaybediscountedowing
todoubtsregardingtheincriminatingpersonsabilitytorememberwhatroleeachof
theindividualslistedinhisstatementplayed.73
However, case law does not clearly state what level of specification is required for such a list to be
considered sufficient evidence, and there are cases in which judges have found an incriminating
statementtobegeneralandthereforenotmeetingthestandardofprimafacie evidence.Forexample,
on the strength of a single incriminating statement, a person was charged with participating in
demonstrations and with throwing stones during these demonstrations. The person who gave the
statementnamed15people.Thedefendantsnamewasnumber11onthelist.Theindividualwhogave
thestatementallegedthatheandthedefendanthadparticipatedindemonstrationsinstonethrowing
incidentstogetheronseveraloccasionsandadded:Ihavenofurtherdetailsabouthim.MilitaryJudge
Col.Mishnayotruledthat:Thewitnessmadeageneralreferencetotheentirelist,andhisstatement
containsnodetailsaboutthespecificactionsattributedtoeachofthepersonsnamedinthelist,noris
thereanyadditionalidentifyinginformation.Therewasnoinvestigativeefforttosupplementthedetails
containedintheincriminatingwitnessstatement.Therefore,thejudgeruled,Thisremainsevidence
oflimitedpowerandorderedthedefendantsconditionalrelease.74
Inothercases,judgeshaveruledthatthethresholdhadbeenmet,thoughtheincriminatingstatements
were general. For example, in one case two Palestinians were charged with participating in several
demonstrations and stone throwing incidents in the Palestinian village of Nilin based on an
incriminating statement given by one person. Military Judge Col. Aryeh Noah rejected the argument
made by defense attorney Adv. Nomi Heger that the incriminating statement was a list that included
manynamesofincriminatedindividuals,ruling:
Thewitnessdidincriminateasignificantnumberofindividualsinvolved,anddidnot
state the exact dates of the offenses. However, this does not eliminate or
significantlyreducetheprimafacieweightofthetestimony.ThisCourtsexperience
showsthatparticipationinmasspublicdisturbancesintheareaisroutineandthese
oftenendwithcasualties.ThevillageofNilinhasrecentlybecomeaflashpointfor
constant confrontation between stonethrowers and security forces, to the point
where these incidents have become a national crisis. The list of incidents in the

72

AA1131&AA1141/10,supranote64.SeealsoremarksbyLieut.Col.LeckachinAA2595/09AbdalFatah
MuhammadAbdalQaderEkhlayelv.MilitaryProsecution.
73
AA1808/13MilitaryProsecutionv.BilalTalalAbdaRahmanBarghouti.
74
AA2422/12,MilitaryProsecutionv.M.T.

22

incriminating testimony attests to the frequency of these incidents. It is clear that


noneoftheparticipantskeepsariotlogwhereparticipantsregisterandsignin.75
Inanothercase,amanwaschargedwiththrowingstonesatmilitaryforcesonseveraloccasions.The
judgepresidinginthecourtoffirstinstanceruledthattheincriminatingstatementwasnotsufficiently
detailedandrejectedtheprosecutionsmotionforremand.Themilitaryprosecutionappealed,claiming
the incriminating statement was sufficient. Military Judge Lieut. Col. Ronen Atzmon accepted the
appeal,explaining:
The image that emerges is that of violent proteststhat are held on a regular basis
neartheperimeterfence.Experienceshowsthattheseprotestsarestagedbymany
people rather than just the eight or ten people mentioned by the incriminating
witnesses.Whenthematterconcernsaseriesofoffensescommittedtogetherwith
many other people, one cannot expect that everyone who attended the
demonstrations would be able to provide personal details about all other
participants [] It is possible that even a witness who wants to provide all the
informationwouldnotbeabletodoso,beitbecausehedidnotseeeveryonewho
participated, because he did not pay attention to all of the people he saw, or
because he did not remember, at the time of the interrogation, everyone he had
seeninthepast.Underthesecircumstances,thefactthattheRespondentsnameis
mentioned only in the statement given by the person who made the incrimination
andnotinthestatementsgivenbyotherparticipantsneednotbeattributedagreat
deal of significance. Sometimes, in offenses committed en masse, one credible
incriminating statement is sufficient for a conviction in offenses that are more
seriousthanstonethrowing.76

75

AA4987&AA4988/08,SafwanNimerHusseinNafeaandMuntaserFadelJamilehKhawajahv.Military
Prosecution.
76
AA1522/11,MilitaryProsecutionv.S.Sh.

23


Secondconditionforremandincustody:Groundsfordetention
After the judge determines that the case contains prima facie evidence, the second condition which
must be fulfilled in order to approve a request for remand in custody is the existence of grounds
justifyingdetention.Israelilawonarrestsestablishesthreegroundsfordetention:concernsregarding
obstructionofjusticeoraflightrisk,orthatthedefendantposesadangertothesecurityofaperson,
thepublicortonationalsecurity.77
Bydefinition,thesegroundsfordetentionareforwardlooking.Theyfocusonanyfutureintentionsthe
defendantmightharborofdisruptingtheinvestigationorcommittinganactthatwouldendangerpublic
safety,andareprimarilypredicatedonthejudgesassessmentofhowthedefendantwouldbehaveif
released.Thisisnotamatterofhardfactsand,likeanyassessmentofthiskind,isnecessarilymadein
conditionsofuncertainty;byitsverynature,wecanexpectmistakes.78
Asweshallseebelow,militarycourtjudgesignorethisaspectofgroundsfordetention,relyinginstead
onanumberofpresumptionsaboutthefutureconductofdefendants.Contrarytotherelativelylimited
presumptionprovidedforintheIsraeliLawofArrests,militarycourtshaveattachedapresumptionof
dangertoalonglistofviolations.MilitaryjudgesalsomakethesweepingassumptionthatPalestinians
standingtrialwillnotappearfortheirhearings,withoutproofthatthisisthecasewithrespecttothe
specificdefendantinthecase.
This generalized approach frees the prosecution from the need to prove that there are grounds for
detainingthespecificdefendantwhoseremandincustodyisbeingconsideredbythecourt.Infact,the
underlyingassumptionofthecourtisthatgroundsexistandtherefore,inthevastmajorityofcases,the
prosecutionhaslittledifficultymeetingthisconditionaswell.

Groundsfordetention1:Posingdanger
Posing danger, as grounds for detention, is not necessarily connected to the charges for which the
defendantisontrial,butrathertoconcernthatifreleased,thedefendantwouldcommitothercrimes
thatarenotenumeratedintheindictment.Therefore,thereissomethingpracticallycoincidentalabout
detentiononthesegrounds,giventhatifthedefendanthadnotalreadybeencharged,heorshecould
nothavebeendetainedall.Holdingpersonsindetentiononthegroundsthattheymayposedangerisa
preventivemeasure,atypeofadministrativedetentionspecifictodefendants,andassuch,itmustbe
limitedtothemostextremecircumstances.AccordingtoDr.RinatKitaiSangero:
Thelegitimacyofholdingapersonindetentioninordertopreventfurthercrimesis
far from selfevident [] accepting these grounds for detention involves grappling
withcomplexconstitutionalandmoralissues.Whiletheseissuesmaynotnecessarily
lead to the conclusion that these grounds for detention should be disqualified as
unconstitutional, they nevertheless ought to impact how widely such grounds are

77

LawofArrests,Sec.21(a)(1).
KitaiSangero,supra,note53,p.277.

78

24

used and restrict the type and substance of the offenses the prevention of which
couldjustifytheincarcerationofanindividualnotyetconvictedbyacourtoflaw.79
TheIsraeliLawofArrestsdeterminesapresumptionofdangerforaseriesofseriousoffensessuchas
espionage and treason, severe violence, offenses involving narcotics and a host of crimes against
nationalsecurity,includingsomethatdonotinvolveviolence.80
Militarycourtshaveappliedthepresumptionofdangertomanyadditionaloffenses.Theresultisthat
almost all the crimes for which Palestinians are put on trial (except traffic and criminal charges) are
includedinthelist.MilitaryJudgeCol.AryehNoahexplainedthispolicy,sayingthatwhileitistruethat
militarycourtsuseIsraelilawonarrestsasatoolforinterpretation,neverthelesswecannotignorethe
specialcircumstancesthatprevailintheareawhenwesetouttodefinedangerposedandalternatives
toarrest.81
Thefollowingaresomeexamplesofhowthepresumptionofdangerhasbeenexpanded.
EntryintoIsraelwithoutapermitdangerautomaticallypresumed
EnteringIsraelwithoutapermit,whenitalsoinvolvesotherviolationsorwhenitisnotthefirsttimea
defendant has been arrested for this offense, is considered an offense that automatically meets the
criteriaforthegroundsofposingdanger.Inthisway,forexample,formerMilitaryCourtPresidentCol.
ShaulGordonwrote:
Asituationinwhichanindividualcommitstheoffenseofexitingtheareawithouta
permitordrivinganIsraelivehiclewithoutapermitandatthesametime,orinorder
todotheabove,commitsotheroffensessuchasforgeryorusingafalseidentity,will
normally be sufficient for remand [] the grounds for detention in such cases is
posingdanger.82
Presidentofthecourt,Col.NetanelBenisho,alsowrote:
We have stated repeatedly that violationof a closed zone order, could give rise to
thegroundsofposingdanger[]Thus,forexample,ifthedefendanthasarecordof
offenses of this type or enters Israel frequently [] when this offense contains an
elementofforgeryoruseofaforgeddocument,thedangerposedincreases,asdoes
theriskofflight.83
TheruleregardingthegroundsofdangerposedbythedefendantincasesofentryintoIsraelwithouta
permitcontinuestoexistevenwhenajudgeexplicitlyrulesthatnodangeremanatesfromthespecific
defendantsathand.Forexample,formerPresidentoftheMilitaryCourtCol.ShaulGordonruled:

79

Ibid.,p.147.Formoreseealsopp.133138.
Forcriticismofthepresumptionofdanger,seeibid.,pp.292298.Seealso,RinatKitai,TheConflictbetween
thePresumptionofDangerundertheLawofArrestsandBasicLaw:HumanDignityandLiberty,Hapraklit(46(2),
2003),282,p.307[Hebrew].
81
AA4987&AA4988/08,supranote75.
82
AA116/01EidAbdalKarimNatshehv.MilitaryProsecutor.
83
AA1848/13SamehAdnanMuhammadMahmoudAbidv.MilitaryProsecution.
80

25

Thedangeranticipatedfromthedefendantisnotmeasuredbyhisintentions,butby
the actual security breach his actions cause. I am ready to accept that were the
DefendanttheonlyonetryingtoenterIsraelwithoutapermit,hisactions,asgrave
as they might be, would not impose any special burden on the security forces.
However,giventheprevalenceofthisseriouspractice,andgiventhespecialsecurity
realities these days, about which I need not elaborate, the Defendant and many
otherslikehimdoimposeaheavyburdenonthesecurityforces,tothepointwhere
thereisaclearimpedimenttotheforcesabilitytoconcentrateontheiroperations
againstterroriststryingtoinfiltrateintoIsrael.84
Inanothercase,Lieut.Col.ShlomiKochavwrote:
IampreparedtoconcedethattheAppellantdoesnotintendtocommitacrimein
Israelandwishesonlytoearnalivingorescapepeopleseekingtoharmhiminthe
PA. The danger, however, comes from another direction altogether. The danger is
thatamidstthelargenumberofPalestinianstryingtofindworkinIsrael,terrorists
alsoslipinandinfiltrate.Therefore,thelawsandpermitsgoverningentryintoIsrael
mustbestrictlyenforced;otherwise,terrorists(whichtheAppellantcertainlyisnot)
willmanagetopenetrateIsrael.Thisisthereasonforthegroundsfordetentionin
suchcasesandforthedangerinthecasebeforeus.85
ThesestatementsbythejudgesdemonstratethattheremandofdefendantsincasesofentryintoIsrael
without a permit is not meant to prevent danger emanating from the defendants themselves but to
deterothersfromcommittingthesameoffense.Thejudgesarewellawareofthefactthatmostofthe
defendants charged with this violation enter Israel to earn a living. Therefore, their farreaching
interpretationofthelawcontradictsthebasicprincipleofthepresumptionofdanger,whichismeantto
avert danger emanating from the defendants themselves, and it places defendants in an impossible
situation, because they have no way of personally countering the judges assumption or influence his
decision.86
Automaticdangerinstonethrowingoffenses
Inmanyverdicts,militaryjudgeshaveruledtimeandagainthatstonethrowingfulfillsthecriteriafor
thegroundsofposingdanger.Thisfindinghasbeenmadeevenwhenthestonethrowingisaonetime
incidentorwhenminorsundertheageof14areinvolved,withthejudgescompletelydisregardingthe
many differences among the cases.Judges have ruled that thedanger increases whenthe indictment
referstoparticipationinmasspublicdisturbancesorwhenthestonesarethrownattheroadoraimed
atavehicle.
Thus,forexample,formerMilitaryCourtPresidentCol.AharonMishnayotwrote:
The subject of discussion is a mass public disturbance. During the lower court
hearing, the defense lawyer noted that 25 youths were involved in the incident.
Thus,thereisanaggravatingcircumstancethatincreasesthedanger.Itistruethat
84

AA116/01,supranote82.
AA2238/10,MilitaryProsecutionv.MuaiadMuhammadAbdalHafezSadqah.
86
Formore,seeKitai,supranote80,pp.292294.
85

26

thedefendantinthiscaseisaminorborninJune1994;however,heisclosetothe
age of majority in the area (16). The case involves especially grave circumstances
becauseofthemasscharacteroftheincident,whichcouldpotentiallyposegreater
danger. Therefore, I found no fault in the decision of the honorable lower court
judge, who ruled that the public interest requires the Defendant be remanded in
custody, in order to provide a fitting response to the danger emanating from his
actionsdespitehisage.87
Similarly,MilitaryJudgeLieut.Col.YoramHanielheld:
Even though the matter under consideration involves a single stone thrown by
someonewithapreviouslycleanrecord,theincidentindicatesthedangerheposes
andthevitalimportanceofdetaininghim.Thebalancerequiredbetweentheprivate
interest,whichisfundamentaltotherightsoftheAppellant,andthepublicinterest,
which obliges us to safeguard the well being of IDF soldiers and guarantee public
order, must be assiduously kept. This balance points to danger and to the need to
remandtheDefendantincustodyforthedurationoftheproceedings.88
MilitaryJudgeLieut.Col.ZviLeckachwrote:
It is true that the matter under consideration involves one incident, but the
circumstances are particularly grave. Anyone who walks with a group, making a
special,premeditatedefforttoreachamainroadusedbycivilianvehicleswiththe
aim of throwing volleys of stones, indicates danger that cannot be neutralized by
seeking alternatives to arrest. The Appellant himself threw two stones and his
comrades threw additional ones. Heading in a group towards a main road with
premeditated intent demonstrates in advance the desire to cause harm and a
particularpotentialfordanger.Therefore,thedangeremanatingfromtheAppellant
ishighandthereisnojustificationforfindinganalternativetodetention.89
Automatic presumption of danger in offenses involving membership and activity in illegal
organizations
AccordingtotheLawofArrests,membershipandactivityinorganizationsclassifiedasillegalestablish
the criteria for presumed danger.90 These offenses are enumerated in Sections 84 and 85 of the
Defense (Emergency) Regulations 1945, enactedduringthe British Mandate. The Defense Regulations
grant the authorities broad discretion and use sweeping terms. The definition of an unlawful
organization includes a number of activities, beginning with a call to destroy Israel and encouraging
terrorism against the government or its employees and ending with causing hatred or contempt or
incitementtohatredtowardsthegovernmentoritsministers.Thespecificinvolvementofanindividual
intheorganizationmaybeoneofabroadrangeofactivities,includingholdingofficeintheorganization,
87

AA1306/10A.S.v.MilitaryProsecution.InOctober2011,theageofmajorityintheWestBankwasraisedto18.
SeeOrderregardingSecurityProvisions(AmendmentNo.10)(JudeaandSamariaArea)57712011,Sec.3.For
more,seehttp://www.btselem.org/legislation/20111005_minority_age_changed.
88
AA1133/08,supranote69.
89
AA1533/12Y.S.v.MilitaryProsecution.
90
LawofArrests,Sec.21(a)(1)(c)(2).

27

administering a service on its behalf, attending meetings, possessing a leaflet or symbol of the
organizationormakingadonationtotheorganization.91
The actual role defendants play within this broad range of activities, which also include legitimate
politicalactivity,shouldbeexpressedinthedecisionsmilitaryjudgesmakeinmotionsforremandput
forwardbytheprosecution,particularlywithrespecttothedangerposed.However,thepresumptionof
danger is automatically made with respect to virtually anyone charged with violating the Defense
(Emergency)Regulations,withcompletedisregardtothenatureoftheallegedact.
According to the case law followed by the military courts, if there is evidence indicating that an
individual was a member of an illegal organization at any given time, that person will be regarded as
continuing to be a member of this organization unless he or she manages to unequivocally prove
otherwise. Therefore, even if the incriminating testimony with respect to activity in an illegal
organizationwasgivenyearsearlier,thecourtconsiderstheactivityasongoing,anddeducesthatthe
defendantposesadanger.Thisisthecaseevenwhenthereisnoevidencethatthedefendantcontinues
to be a member of the unlawful organization or continues to pose danger as a result of this
membership.92
The specific nature of the defendants activity in an organization declared unlawful carries almost no
weight.TheSupremeCourtestablishedthatdifferentiatingbetweencivilianactivityandmilitaryactivity
inorganizationsdeclaredunlawfulisartificialandmistaken.93JusticeShohamheld:
Indeed, we are dealing with civilian activity in areas that tug at the heartstrings,
includingcharity,welfare,education,religion,etc.However,thesearethemissions
and aims of the civilian branch of a terrorist organization, that is, to make people
sympatheticanddrawthemclosertotheactivitiesofHamasandexpanditscircleof
supporters. It is not for naught that Hamas activities, even in the clearly civilian
sphere, are banned in law abiding countries, and all the more so in Israel and
Jerusalem.94
Militarycourtshavealsoadoptedthisruleandestablishedthatthequestionofwhetherthedefendants
activityinanorganizationdeclaredunlawfulwascivilianormilitaryisirrelevant.Adjudicatinganappeal
against a decision to remand Hamas ministers and members of the legislative council of the PA in
custody,formerMilitaryCourtPresidentCol.ShaulGordonwrote:
Everyoneknowstodaythatthedistinctionbetweenmilitaryandcivilianactivitiesis
anartificialone[]ThisCourthasruledoftenenough,thatlawfulandworthydeeds
inandofthemselves,likereligiousteachingordistributingfoodtotheneedy,areto
comeunderthedefinitionofprovidingaservicetoanunlawfulorganizationifthey
are done in the name of Hamas [] Even if the Appellants actions were indeed
91

Formoreontheissuesinherenttotheseoffenses,seeMichalTzur(supervisedbyProf.MordechaiKremnitzer)
Defense(Emergency)Regulations1945,IsraelDemocracyInstitute,October1999,pp.4754(Hebrew);Ghanayim
Khalid,MordechaiKremnitzer,OffensesAgainsttheState,IsraelDemocracyInstitute,pp.2427[Hebrew].
92
SinglePanelAppeal(JudeaandSamariaArea)56/00,AtaIbrahimMuhammadQawasmehv.Military
Prosecutor.
93
JusticeProcacciainCrimApp6552/05,RasemAbidatv.StateofIsrael.
94
CrimApp392/12Anon.etal.v.StateofIsrael.

28

confined to the civilian sphere, the very fact of their membership in this hostile
organization and their willingness to fulfill a function on its behalf establishes the
groundsofposingdanger.95
In another case, in which a woman was charged with activity on behalf of a charitable organization
declaredunlawful,formerMilitaryCourtPresidentCol.AharonMishnayotwrote:
Indeed, on the face of it, the matter under consideration involves humanitarian
activitymeanttohelptheneedy.However,whentheactivityisconductedwithinthe
framework of an unlawful organization, it contributes to glorifying the reputation
and status oftheorganization,increasing itspowerandstrengthening itsinfluence
over the population. Ultimately, it increases public support for organizations that
threatenthesecurityoftheareaandofIsrael.96
The military courts did not settle for merely eliminating the distinction between military and civilian
activity,inaccordancewithSupremeCourtrulings,buttookthingsastepfurtherandestablishedthat
therewasnorequirementforanykindofmeaningfulactivityintheoutlawedorganizationtoestablish
thegroundsofposingdanger.Whatistermedintangiblemembershipintheorganizationissufficient
forconsideringapersondangerous.Col.Gordonmadethefollowingdeterminationregardingaperson
whowaschargedwithjoiningthestudentbranchofIslamicJihadattheOpenUniversityinDura:The
evidencedoesnotpointtospecificactivityontheRespondentspart.However,wehavealreadyruled
thatevenintangiblemembership inaterrorist organizationwill normally justify remand.97 Lieut.Col.
Benisho wrote, It is a wellknown rule that the offense of membership in an unlawful organization,
evenifitdoesnotincludeactiveparticipation,willestablishcausetoremandgiventhedangerposedby
anyonewillingtojoinsuchanorganization.98

Groundsfordetention2:Flightrisk
AnothergroundsfordetentionthatappearsintheLawofArrestsistheconcernthatthedefendantwill
try to flee. This cause is established when there is concern that if the defendant is released
conditionallyornothewillfleeandwillnotreporttotrial.
VerdictsbythemilitarycourtsdemonstratethattheconcernisinherentregardingalmostallPalestinian
defendants and that the prosecution is not required to present proof that it has concerns about any
specific one. All that is required is for the defendant to be living in Area A or B, where most of the
PalestiniansintheWestBanklive,forthecourttoaccepttheprosecutionsclaimthatthereisaflight
risk.
Themilitaryprosecutionsargumentstartswiththeendoftheprocedure;thatis,ifthedefendantdoes
notshowupfortrial,itwillnotbepossibletorearrestbecausethatwouldrequiresendingsoldiersinto
Areas A or B, which may put the soldiers lives in jeopardy. In order to head off this possibility, the

95

AA3249/06MilitaryProsecutorv.BasemAhmadMusaZaarur.
AA3509/07MilitaryProsecutionv.NadaJamalMuhammdHassan.
97
AA2244/05MilitaryProsecutorv.AlaaRizeqIssaAbuSundus.
98
AA1593/05MilitaryProsecutorv.ShadiZiadIbrahimHawarin.
96

29

prosecutiondemandsnottoreleasethedefendantwithoutpresentingashredofevidencetoshowthat
heorsheactuallyintendstoflee.
Asarule,thejudgesoftheMilitaryCourtofAppealsaccepttheprosecutionsargumentandtheytoo
considerthetheoreticalquestionratherthantheactualdefendantsbeforethem.Lieut.MilitaryJudge
Col.RonenAtzmonmadethisclear:
ThefactthatthedefendantshomeisinAreaAorB,wherethereisgreatdifficultly
to monitor whether release conditions are being upheld or to locate and arrest a
person, is a serious consideration in determining whether to release a defendant
duringtrial.Theconsequenceisthatonlyincaseswherethereisalowflightriskand
whenthecourtgivesrelativelyhighcredencetothedefendantwillitbejustifiedto
conditionallyreleasetoanareathatisnotinfullIsraelicontrol.99
The Supreme Court established an almost opposite rule on this matter, but in this case, the military
court judgespreferred toignore it. According tothe Supreme Court, thoughthe judges may consider
whereadefendantlives,placeofresidenceisnotsufficientbyitselftoconstitutegroundsfordetention.
ResidenceinAreaAorBcannot,inandofitself,preventthereleaseofthedefendantfromdetention.
ThisiswhatJusticeJoubranwroteonthissubject:
The court has expressed its opinion in many decisions that the fact that the
defendantlivesinanareanotunderIsraelicontrolandnotunderthesupervisionof
the Israel Police, is not enough by itself to detain him in circumstances in which a
defendantlivinginIsraelwouldhavebeenreleased.Thefactthatheisadefendant
livingintheareaofthe[Palestinian]Autonomy,is,byitself,justoneconsiderationin
rejecting an alternative to detention. The main consideration is whether there is a
substantialflightrisk.100

99

AA1940/14MilitaryProsecutionv.FaresRiadFaresAbuHassan.
CrimApp6339/03StateofIsraelv.HushiyahMahmoud.FormoreonthisissueseeKitaiSangero,supranote
53,280.
100

30


Third condition for remand in custody: Lack of alternatives to
detention
Having met the requirement for prima facie evidence to prove a persons guilt, and that one of the
grounds for detention ispresent, thethird condition for remand is thatthe purpose of the detention
cannotbeobtainedbyanothermeanswhichwouldbelessinjuriousforthedefendant(alternativeto
detention).101JudgesinIsraelicourtshaveseveralsuchoptions:partialorfullhousearrest,electronic
bracelets,athirdpartybond,removalfromresidence,summonstoreporttoapolicestation,travelban,
incarcerationinaclosedresidenceinsteadofadetentionfacility,etc.Theappropriateoptionisselected
in accordance with the grounds for detention in each case and the personal circumstances of the
defendant.
Thelegalrequirementtosearchforanalternativetodetentionclearlyindicatesthatreleasemustbethe
default,asformerDeputyChiefSupremeCourtJusticeMenachemElonheld:
Evenwhengroundsfordetentionarepresent,therearerestrictions.Thebasicand
elementaryrightofindividuallibertyenduresandthisrightgivesrisetoanobligation
to try to find means that uphold the purpose of the detention that mitigates the
injurycausedtothedefendant.102
Themilitarycourtshaveembracedthesewordsinprincipleandhaveheldthatthejudgemustconsider
whetherthereisanalternativetodetention.Accordingtotherulingsofthemilitarycourt,thefeasibility
of the detention alternative must be examined on an individual basis, in accordance with the unique
circumstancesoftheindividualdefendantappearingbeforethecourt.MilitaryJudgeLieut.Col.Netanel
Benishowrote:
When it is possible to achieve the purpose of the detention by means that cause
lesser injurytothe defendants liberty, the court must choosethat option (Section
21a(b)(1)ofLawofArrests).Thistestmustbepersonalandindividualandinthat
context,thecourtwilljuxtaposetheattributesoftheoffenseandtheoffenderand
the grounds deriving from them on the one hand, with the terms of the proposed
alternative on the other [] The range of considerations before the court when it
sets out to decide whether to detain or release the defendant is, therefore, very
broad.103
Inpractice,however,militaryjudgeswillagreetoorderanalternativetodetentiononlyinexceptional
circumstances.Thejudgesreleasetheprosecutionfromtheburdenofprovingthatthereisnosuitable
alternative to detention and place the burden of proving that such an alternative exists on the
defendant. President of the Military Court of Appeals, Col. Netanel Benisho, wrote, The defense is
expectedtotaketheinitiativetomakeconcreteproposalsforalternativestodetention.Itisabasicduty
101

LawofArrest,Sec.21(b)(1).
CrimApp335/89MilitaryProsecutionv.AvrahamBenEliyahuLavan,IsrSC43(2)410,418.
103
AA4497/08MilitaryProsecutionv.A.K.
102

31

ofthedefenseattorneystowardhisclientaswellastowardsthecourt,whichheisobligedtoassistin
doingjustice.104However,therearetwofundamentalreasonswhytheburdenplacedonthedefensein
thesecasesisparticularlyonerousandwhytherearefewinstancesinwhichthelawyercanmeetit.
The first reason is the long list of offenses in which military judges have determined that the danger
associatedwiththedefendantcannotbeoffsetbyanalternativetodetention.Asidefromexceptional
situations, the personal circumstances of the defendant are rarely considered in these cases. For
example, the military courts have determined that it would be difficult to find an alternative to
detention in cases where the indictment has to do with entering Israel without a permit. In a rare
decision, Military Judge Lieut. Col. Zvi Leckach ruled that many of those entering Israel or West Bank
settlementswithoutapermitdosoforeconomicreasons.Somemayenterforcriminalreasons,butthe
decisive majority do not try to harm Israels national security or its people in any way. Based on this
understanding of the facts, the judge ruled that in such cases it would be appropriate to consider an
alternativetodetention:
Whenthebackgroundfortheseviolationsiseconomicneed,andparticularlyinthe
caseofafirsttimeoffender,amonetaryguaranteeforthedefendantsappearance
in court for the continuation of the proceedings in his matter can and should be
considered.105
The military prosecution was of the opinion that this decision represented a new case law rule, and
demandedthePresidentoftheMilitaryCourtofAppealsholdafurtherhearing.FormerPresident,Col.
AharonMishnayot,rejectedtherequestandexplainedthatwhilehedidnotagreewithMilitaryJudge
Lieut. Col. Lekachs verdict, and would have likely ruled otherwise, the range of reasonability can
includevariousoutcomes,allofwhicharelegitimate,andonecannotexpectthediscretionofalljudges
tobe identical in a given set of circumstances. He addedthat as hesaw it, alternatives to detention
shouldbeconsideredonlyifthedefendantisafirsttimeoffender,andthecircumstancessurrounding
thecommissionoftheoffensewerenotparticularlygrave.Ifanindividualrepeatstheoffenseeven
afterservingaprisonsentence,orwhenunderasuspendedsentence,Asarule,itwillnotbepossible
toresolvetheissueofthedangerheposesthroughanalternativetodetention,andremandisclearly
preferable.106
Inasimilarvein,militarycourtshaveruledthatitisalmostimpossibletoneutralizethedangerposedby
defendantsinoffensesinvolvingstonethrowing.Lieut.Col.NetanelBenishoruledthatitisundeniable
that in most cases it is extremely difficult to find an appropriate alternative to detention in offenses
involving stonethrowing [] Therefore, there will only be a few cases in which the court will be
convincedthatthereisanalternative.107Thecourtswillshowwillingnesstoconsideranalternativeto
detention in cases involving such offenses only in exceptional circumstances; for instance, when
defendants who are minors and are also very young or have participated in incidents only once.
However, even in these cases, the judges are not in agreement about the circumstances in which
defendantscanbereleased,asMilitaryJudgeLieut.Col.RonenAtzmonpointedout:
104

AA2616/11MilitaryProsecutionv.R.K.
AA2649/11MuamarAliMuhammdaSiqv.MilitaryProsecution.
106
AA1315/12MilitaryProsecutionv.HaniKhamisKhalilZein.
107
AA4497/08,supranote103.
105

32

Itisdifficulttofindaclearanswertothequestionofwhenaminorwhohasthrown
stonesshouldbedetained.Evenwhentheminorisabout14yearsofageandhada
momentary lapse in which he threw stones at a car, and even when no known
damagehasbeencaused,somehavebeenremandedincustody[]andothershave
beenreleasedtoanalternativetodetention.Ibelievethatwhenitcomestominors
olderthan14whoarechargedwithstonethrowinginasingleincidentandwithout
aggravated circumstances (such as a problematic past, throwing stones with a
slingshot, participating in a violent mass incident or throwing objects at an
unprotected car traveling at high speed) and no known damage was caused, while
the grounds of posing danger is present, an alternative to detention should
neverthelessbeconsideredfavorably.108
Militaryjudgeshavealsofoundthatitisalmostimpossibletofindalternativestodetentionregarding
the offense of membership and activities in an illegal organization. Former President of the Military
Court of Appeals Col. Aharon Mishnayot held that these violations are security violations regarding
which the rule is that only in rare and exceptional cases is it possible to achieve the purpose of
detention through an alternative to detention.109 In another case, Military Judge Lieut. Col. Ronen
Atzmonheldthatwhentheindictmentinvolvesthesesortsofviolations,thereisnoroomwhatsoeverto
examinealternativestodetention.
Even though the lower court judge did not mention that he had looked into
alternatives to detention, he made no mistake in this case since jurisprudence has
frequentlyheldbothintheTerritoriesandinIsraelthatwhensecurityoffenses
areinvolved,itwouldbedifficulttofindalternativestodetention,andnormally,the
correctdecisionwouldbetoremandthedefendantincustodyinsuchcases.110
Thevastmajorityofindictmentsfiledinthemilitarycourts(asidefromtrafficviolations)involveentry
intoIsraelwithoutapermit,publicdisturbancesandhostileterroristactivity.Since2008,thesum
total of these charges account for 86% to 88% of all offenses (with the exception of 2011 when they
madeup81%).111Takingthisintoaccount,thefarreachingpositionofthejudgesaccordingtowhich,
in the overwhelming majority of cases there is no reason to consider alternatives to detention
regardless of personal circumstances precludes almost any possibility of releasing defendants to an
alternativetodetention.
Thesecondreasonwhytheburdenplacedonthedefenseissoheavywhenitcomestoproposingan
alternative to detention is that even in the few cases in which the court is prepared to consider the
possibility,thedefensewillfinditdifficulttoproposealternativesbecausethereareveryfewavailable
intheWestBank.Housearrestsortechnologicalsolutionslikeelectronicbraceletsarenotconsidered
relevantbythecourts,andinmostcases,thejudgesrefusetoacceptguaranteesfromPalestinians.This
ishowMilitaryJudgeLieut.Col.NetanelBenishoexplainedtheproblemwhendiscussingthepossibility
ofalternativestodetentionregardingdefendantsaccusedofstonethrowing:
108

AA1540/11M.B.v.MilitaryProsecution.
AA4538/08MilitaryProsecutionv.IssaMuhammadAhmadEnbawi.
110
AA1035/13,supranote69.
111
Seesupranote16.
109

33

We cannot deny that in most cases it is extremely difficult to find an appropriate


alternative to detention when it comes to violations involving stone throwing. The
general climate in the area, which views this kind of behavior in a favorable light,
increases the chances of recidivism, especially when it comes to young defendants
whose understanding is not fully formed and who are very easily influenced.
Furthermore, the difficult conditions and many security constraints that limit the
activityofthesecurityforcesintheareadonotusuallymakeitpossibletoeffectively
controlandmonitoradefendantwhohasbeenreleased.Therefore,therewillonly
be a few cases in which the court will be convinced that there actually is an
alternativetodetention.112
Moreover,theinformationjudgeshaveaboutdefendantsislimitedtobeginwithbecausethereisno
probationreport.InsideIsrael,theLawofArrestsempowersjudgestoissueanorderforsuchareport,
whichwouldincludethepersonalcircumstancesofthedefendant,theimplicationsofthearrest,the
alternativestodetentionandrelease,orarecommendationregardingspecialconditionsforreleaseand
howtomonitortheirobservance.113Whenthedefendantisaminor,thelawrequiressuchareportand
thejudgehasnodiscretionatallwhethertoaskforitornot.114Thepurposeofthereportistoassess
thedegreeofdangerposedbythedefendantortheflightriskpotential,inordertodeterminewhether
thedefendantcanbetrustedifreleasedand,ifso,toexaminerelevantalternativestodetention.115
Military law is silent on the issue of probation reports and the military prosecution strongly opposes
them.Inarareoccurrence,whenMilitaryJudgeMaj.SamzarShagog,orderedsuchareportinthecase
of a minor, the prosecution quickly appealed the decision on the grounds that the court had no
authoritytodoso.116
In a number of cases, judges of the Military Court of Appeals have voiced criticism over the fact that
thereisnopossibilityoforderingaprobationreport,particularlyinthecaseofminors,complainingthat
thismakesitdifficultforthemtodotheirjob.MilitaryJudgeLieut.Col.ZviLeckachwrote,Regrettably,
themilitarycourtscannotobtainaprobationreportforaminor,eventhoughitcouldshedmuchlight
on the chances that the father of the family could educate his son and put him on the right path.
Withoutthisreport,thecourtcanonlyrelyonitsdirectimpressionfromtheopenstatementgiventoit
bythefather.117Inanothercase,PresidentoftheMilitaryCourtJudgeCol.NetanelBenishowrote:
Thepresentcasehasonceagaindrivenhometheneedforaprobationreport,the
possibilityofwhich,tomyregret,hasnotyetbeenrecognizedbythelegislatorinthe
area. I agree with those who think that in general, when we are dealing with
ideologicallymotivatedcrime,wecanmakeaninformeddecisiononthebasisofthe
evidenceandtheargumentsofthepartieswithouttheneedforaprobationreport.
Nevertheless,therearemanycasesinwhichthecourtsensesthatbeyondtheissue
of the offense itself, there is good reason to get a broader picture regarding the
112

AA4497/08,supranote103.
LawofArrests,Sec.21a.
114
JuvenileLaw,Sec.10g(b).
115
HayaZandberg,ArrestReport,HamishpatXIII,155,p.159[Hebrew].
116
Case1038/14MilitaryProsecutorv.Anon.,DetailedNoticeofAppealandSchedulingMotion,4March2014.
117
AA1889/09,MilitaryProsecutionv.R.F.
113

34

defendant,includinghispersonality,hisdeedsandoccupation,hissocialandfamily
ties and even an assessment of the possibilities for releasing him under various
schemesorrestrictions.118
InMay2014,theMilitary CourtofAppealswentsofarasdeterminingthatthedefendantsshouldbe
allowedtomeetwithrelevantexpertsandsubmittheirownprobationreport,despitetheobjectionsof
the prosecution. This decision was made in a remand hearing for two minors who had been charged
withthrowingstones.Theirlawyer,NeriRamati,askedthattheybesenttotheWelfareStaffOfficerfor
aprobationreport.ThemilitaryprosecutionobjectedandAttorneyRamatithenaskedthattheyatleast
be allowed to meet with an expert of their own choosing and submit a probation report; the
prosecutionobjectedtothisaswell.Col.Benishoacceptedtherequestandcriticizedtheprosecutionfor
itsrefusal:
Even if there is currentlynoexplicit authority to do so in the law applicable inthe
area, there is no impediment to the Prosecution agreeing to the voluntary
preparation of a probation report by an independent person, whether it is the
Welfare Staff Officer, or an Israel Prison Service social worker, as, indeed, had
alreadybeendoneonseveraloccasions.Thispossibilityispreferabletothecurrent
positionofthemilitaryprosecutionwhichrejectsanyreferralbythecourttoasocial
workerorpsychologistforpreparationofsuchanopinion.119
In August 2014, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein contacted Military Advocate General Maj. Gen.
Danny Efroni demanding military law be amended to authorize military courts to ask for probation
reportsbeforerulingonrequeststoremandminorsincustody.120Weinsteinexplainedthatthedirective
formedpartoftheeffortstohavemilitarylawconformtotheprovisionsoftheJuvenileLaw,andtodo
sotakingintoconsiderationthespecialconditionsandthesecuritysituationprevailingintheJudeaand
SamariaArea.Headdedthathewasawarethatthisdirectivecouldrunintopracticaldifficultiesand
therefore,itmighthelponlyaverysmallnumberofdefendantseachyear,butthatthecourtshould
notbedeniedthepossibilityofdoingsowhenapplicable.

118

AA1488/12MilitaryProsecutionv.SajaShakerAbdalKarimAlami.
AA1782&AA1783/14Anon.etal.v.MilitaryProsecution.
120
LetterfromAttorneyGeneralYehudaWeinsteintoMAGMaj.Gen.DannyEfroni,17August2014.
119

35


Releaseonbail
According to the Law of Arrests, in order for a judge to order a defendants remand in custody, the
prosecutionmustprovethatithasmetallthreecumulativeconditions:primafacieevidencetoprove
guilt,groundsforarrestandlackofarelevantalternativetodetentionwhichcouldachievethepurpose
ofdetentioninamannerthatislessinjurioustothedefendant.
Despite the clear language of the law, in an absolute majority of cases, military courts do not
unconditionallyreleasePalestiniandefendantswhomtheprosecutionhasaskedtoremandincustody
forthedurationoftheproceedings.Evenwhenjudgesbelievethereisinsufficientevidenceorgrounds
fordetention,theywillstillorderanalternativetodetentionintheformofconditionalrelease,usually
depositingasum of money. Insomecasesthecourt willadd moreconditionssuch as thirdpartybail
andreleasethedefendantonlyafterthemoneyhasbeendeposited.
TheIsraeliLawofArrestscontainsasectionthatpermitsthecourttoreleasedefendantsonbailjustto
ensuretheyappear fortheirhearing,eveniftheprosecutionhas failed toprovethethreeconditions
requiredforremand(militaryjudgesdonotexplicitlystatethattheyrelyonthissection).121However,
eveninsuchcases,theprosecutionmustprovidesomesortofevidencepointingtoflightrisk.Justice
Barak wrote, It is not sufficient to argue that an indictment has been filed. The prosecution must
demonstrate a concern that has graduated from pure theory into reasonable concern justifying
remandthatthedefendantwillnotappearfortrial.122Dr.RinatKitaiSangeroclarifiedthat,Evenif
thereisatheoreticalchanceofflightmotivatedsimplybytheprospectofconvictionandpenalty,itis
not enough to impose restrictions on a specific individual without concrete evidence to substantiate
flightrisk.123
Nonetheless, militarycourtdeliberationsrevolvesolelyaroundthesum ofthebail.Questionssuchas
whetherthereisconcernthedefendantwillnotappearfortrialorwhetheritisproperandjustifiedto
demandafinancialdepositinreturnforthedefendantsreleasearenotconsideredatall.Thepremise
fordeliberationisthatwithoutaguarantee,thedefendantwillnotappearfortrial.Concernincreases
whenthedefendantisalreadyunderasuspendedsentence.
Below,wepresentsomeexamplesillustratinghowevenwhentheevidenceisthinorthegroundsfor
detention unconvincing, the judges made the release of the defendant conditional on depositing
substantialsumsofmoney:

ImadJadallahwaschargedwithmembershipinaHamascell.Accordingtotheindictment,he
putuppostersandparticipatedinralliesandmarchesinwhichcellmembersworeuniformsand
carried axes. The lower court remanded Jadallah to custody and he appealed the decision.
Military Judge Lieut. Col. Shlomi Kochav ruled that the indictment was based on one

121

LawofArrests,Sec.44(b).
CrimApp5767/91StateofIsraelv.YairBenEfrayimLevy,IsrSC46(1)394,396.
123
RinatKitaiSangero,CriticismoftheRequirementtoProvideaGuaranteeasaConditionforReleasefrom
Detention,TheDavidWeinerBookOnCriminalLawandEthics(DrorAradEilon,YoramRabinandYanivVaki,
Eds.,2009),p.393[Hebrew].
122

36

incriminatingstatement, inwhichthepersonmaking theincriminatingstatement said that he


hadcarriedoutoperationsaspartoftheHamascelltogetherwiththedefendant.However,the
defendant was under administrative detention on the date mentioned by the informant. The
judgeagreedwithdefensecounselsargumentthattheinformantstestimonywasmistakenand
held, This is cause for questioning the entire testimony of the informant regarding the
Appellant.Despitethefactthattherewasnoevidentialinfrastructure,thejudgeproceededto
examinewhetherthereweregroundsforarrestandruledthataccordingtothetestimonyofthe
informant the defendants activity had ceased a year earlier, which indicates reduced risk.
Lieut.Col.Kochavwentontoexaminethepossibilityofanalternativetodetentionandwrote
that this combination of reduced risk in terms of grounds and the weakness of the
incriminating testimony in terms of evidence leads to the conclusion that an alternative to
detention is the proper solution in this case. Nevertheless, he added, there was increased
concernthedefendantwillfleegiventhesuspendedsentenceagainsthimthatisstillineffect,
andultimatelyorderedJadallahreleasedonconditionthathedepositbailofNIS12,000[approx.
USD3,000]toguaranteehisappearanceattrial.124

Marwan Daher was charged with arms trafficking and possession of firearms. He maintained
that he kept a hand gun for selfdefense because his business required him to carry large
amountsofcashonhisperson,andhelivedinAreaB,wherepolicingwasineffective.Thelower
court judge ordered his release on bail set at NIS 25,000 [approx. USD 6,250] and on the
provisionofaselfsignedguaranteeandathirdpartysignedguarantee,ofNIS50,000[approx.
USD12,500]each.Theprosecutionappealedandthejudge,Lieut.Col.RonenAtzmon,focused
thediscussiononthegroundsfordetention.Hemaintainedthatwhilethereispresumptionof
dangerineverythingpertainingtooffensesinvolvingfirearms,thispresumption,likeanyother,
may be refuted. He ruled: In the matter at hand, the defendant kept a hand gun, which is a
defensive weapon. He had no criminal record and there was no concern that the gun was
meanttoserveacriminalorterroristintent.Theprosecutionhadnotdisprovedtheargument
thatthedefendantwasafamilymanwithasizeable,legitimatebusiness.Hehadhandedover
theguntothepoliceandtherewasthereforenoconcernthatitwouldbeusedtoharmothers.
Because of the low risk, Lieut. Col. Atzmon ruled that an alternative to detention could be
consideredandaddedthatnoallegationhasbeenmadethattheAppellantisaflightrisk.At
the same time, the judge wrote: I am also of the opinion that the alternative to detention
orderedbythelowercourtwillservetospurtheAppellanttoappearforhiscourthearings.125

In2013,AnasBaniOdehwasindictedonthreecharges.Twoofthemconcernedbeingactivein
Hamas in the years 20042007. The prosecution conceded that these charges did not justify
remand. The third charge was an offense against public order. The prosecution alleged that
Bani Odeh had loaded a telephone calling card with NIS 60 [approx. USD 15] on behalf of a
prisoner and received payment from the prisoners father. The judge of the court of first
instance accepted the prosecutions argument that the defendant should be remanded in
custody forthedurationof proceedings. Bani Odehappealedthedecisionand MilitaryJudge
Lieut.Col.RonenAtzmonacceptedtheappeal.Hewroteinhisdecision,theexistingevidence

124

AA1039/11,Jadallahv.MilitaryProsecution.
AA1397/11MilitaryProsecutionv.MarwanDaher.

125

37

cannotsubstantiateaconvictionorjustifyremand.Headdedthatevenifsuchevidenceexisted
and even if there had been grounds for detention, nevertheless in this case, because of the
insignificantnatureoftheassistanceandthefactthatitwasaonetime,smallscaleevent,an
alternativetodetentioncouldsuffice.Nonetheless,anddespitethefactthatthecourtdidnot
rule there was a flight risk, the judge ruled that the defendant would be released only if he
depositedNIS5,000[approx.USD1,250]toguaranteehisappearancefortheresumptionofhis
trial.126

Mujahed Jaradat was accused of participating in a solidarity march with prisoners on hunger
strike,throwingstonesduringthemarchandarmstrafficking.Accordingtotheindictment,his
studentdormitoryroommatetoldhimtherewasafirearmintheirroomwhichacertainperson
wasgoingtopickup,andaskedhimnottoletanyoneexceptthatpersonintotheroom.The
manarrivedthefollowingday.ThejudgeofthecourtoffirstinstanceorderedJaradatsremand
incustody.Jaradatappealedthedecision.Inhisdecision,CourtPresidentCol.NetanelBenisho
focusedonlyonthechargesofarmstraffickingandacceptedtheappeal.Hecontendedthatthe
evidence in the case raised doubts as to whether firearms were even involved. Therefore, he
continued, it is doubtful whether there was an offense of arms trafficking that can be
attributedtothe Appellant, andthatinanycase,his involvementwas limited andtherefore,
wecannotsaythattheincidentisindicativeofpatentdanger.Col.Benishoalsowrotethatthe
court must take into consideration the fact that the defendant was completing his studies,
which was an interest that could reasonably keep him from getting involved in criminal
activity.Thejudgeadded:IsawfittoputmyfaithintheAppellantsfather,whopromisedto
vouchforhissonsappearance.AlthoughtherewasnoprimafacieevidencethattheAppellant
hadcommittedanoffense,orevidencethatanoffensehadbeencommittedatall,nogrounds
fordetentionorconcernofaflightrisk,thejudgestillorderedadepositofNIS7,000[approx.
USD1,750]asaconditionforrelease.127

The sums of money defendants are ordered to deposit for their release reach thousands of shekels.
ConsideringthedifficulteconomicsituationofmanyWestBankresidents,somewillclearlyhavetrouble
raising the money and remain in custody. In addition, because there are no probation reports, the
judges are completely unaware of detainees socioeconomic circumstances and deposit sums are
determinedarbitrarily.
Militarycourtsholdbailreviewhearingsthreetofivedaysafteradecisiontoconditionallyreleasea
defendantismade.Inthesehearings,thepartiesdiscussthepossibilityofmitigatingthetermssetfor
the bail so that the defendant will be able to fulfill them. In some cases, the judges do reduce the
depositamount.Col.Benishoexplainedtheneedtosettermsdefendantscanfulfill:
Itisaknownrulethatconditionsforreleasearemeanttoguaranteethedefendants
appearanceforhearingsheldinhiscase,andsometimesalsotonegatethegrounds
thatcouldhavejustifiedremand.Sincethatisso,whenthedefendantcannotmeet

126

AA1038/13AnasBaniOdehv.MilitaryProsecution.
AA1390/14MujahedJaradatv.MilitaryProsecution.

127

38

theconditions,thecourtmustfindanewequilibriumbetweenthewishtorelease
andtheaforesaidneedtoguaranteeappearance.128
Once a judge orders release, the court issues a voucher which must be paid at the post office and
presentedtothecourtsecretariatortheprisonwherethedefendantisheld.Then,areleaseorderis
senttotherelevantprisonfacilityandthedefendantisreleased.129
This procedure, which appears simple enough, is replete with many technical and bureaucratic
difficulties. First, the defendants family does not always know that a remand hearing is being held.
Whenthisisthecase,thefamilyisnotatcourttoreceivethepaymentvoucher,andthelawyerhasto
waitfortheendofthedaytocontactthemandfindawaytodeliverthevouchertothem.Second,the
sum ordered by the court must be paid in cash and only in an Israeli post office. However, as
PalestinianshavelimitedaccesstoIsraelipostofficebranches,theycaneffectivelymakethepaymentin
onebranchonly,inQalandia,betweenJerusalemandRamallah.Third,oncepaid,thevouchermustbe
broughtinpersontotherelevantauthorities,andthis,too,isnosimpletask.Mostofthedetaineesare
heldinprisonsinsideIsrael,soPalestinianshavenoaccesstothem.Therefore,theymustgotothecourt
secretariatattheOfermilitarybase.However,thecheckpointonthewaytothebaseclosesat3:00PM.
Ifthejudgesdecisionishandeddownonlyaroundnoon,thefamilywillnotbeabletopaythevoucher
and return to the court in time, and the defendant will remain behind bars another day. Even if the
family does manage to get back to the court, they will have to wait at the gate until a prison guard
approachesthem, takesthe voucherandhandsit over to thecourt secretariat. Thereisnooperating
procedure that compels prison guards to take the voucher or the secretariat to act quickly and
efficientlyonceitreceivesit.
Becauseofthesecomplications,evendefendantswhomeetalltheconditionssetbythejudge,theywill
mostlikelynotbereleasedonthedayofthedecision.
Defendantsarereleasedwhenthevoucherarrivesattheholdingfacility.Ifthishappensintheearlyor
late evening, the defendants are released without collecting their possessions. They are taken to the
nearestcheckpointandsenthomewithnomoney,cellphonesoridentitycards.
Inmostcases,thedepositisconvertedtoafineaspartofthepleabargainsignedwiththedefendant.
When this does not happen, retrieval of the deposit involves a long and complicated bureaucratic
process that requires substantial involvement by the defendants lawyer.130 BTselem has submitted
severalFreedomofInformationapplicationstotheCivilAdministrationregardingtheamountsofmoney
deposited for bail and how much of it was returned to the defendants after their release.131 The
applicationswerenotanswered.

128

AA2564/11AlaaFaizAbdaRahmanalJaabriv.MilitaryProsecution.
LettertoBTselemfromZoharHalevy,HeadofPublicLiaisonDepartment,IDFSpokesperson,22January2012;
lettertoBTselemfromMeisharTehilaCohen,FreedomofInformationOfficer,IsraelPrisonService
SpokespersonsOffice,14October2012.
130
See,e.g.HagaiMatar,OccupationLevies,HaIr,15October2010[Hebrew].
131
LettersfromBTselemtoSec.Lieut.AmosWagner,CivilAdministrationPublicLiaisonOfficerandFreedomof
InformationOfficer,28October2014,2December2014and23March2015.
129

39


Theoutcome:Pleabargains
Apleabargainisanagreementbetweentheprosecutionandthedefendantwherebythepartiesagree
totheoutcomeofthetrial,skippingoverthephaseinwhichtheprosecutionmustpresentevidenceto
provetheguiltofthedefendantandthedefendantisgiventheopportunitytorefutetheevidence.In
thepleabargain,thepartiescanagreeonthechargesandonthepunishmenttheprosecutionwillseek,
andinreturn,thedefendantundertakestopleadguiltytothefactsincludedintheindictment.
Thepolicypracticedbythemilitarycourtswithrespecttoremandincustodycreatesastrongincentive
for defendants to sign plea bargains so as to complete the proceedings as quickly as possible.
Defendantsknowthatthecourtwillverylikelyapprovearemandrequest,andthatiftheychoosetogo
totrial,theywillhavetodosowhileincustody.Furthermore,militarycourttrialsarelengthy,soevenif
theyareultimatelyacquitted,defendantsmayspendmoretimebehindbarsinremand,thantheprison
sentencetheywouldreceiveinapleabargain.Pleabargainsareespeciallyattractivetominorscharged
with stone throwing or defendants accused of entering Israel without a permit. In these cases, the
sentence defendants can expect in a plea bargain is a few months in prison, whereas trials may last
longer.
This situation is one of the main reasons why a very large proportion of the cases heard by military
courtsendinpleabargains.Statisticsregardingjudicialproceedingsagainstminorsbetween2010and
2015 provided to BTselem by the IDF Spokesperson indicate that full trials, during which evidence is
heard,areextremelyrare.Ofthe642caseswhoseoutcomeswereprovidedtoBTselem,afulltrialwas
held in only five (0.8%). In 13 cases, the defendant pleaded guilty and was sentenced by the judge
withoutapleabargain.Pleabargainswerereachedintheremaining624cases.132
Based on reports issued by the military courts, a similar picture arises regarding the total number of
casesinwhichtheevidentialstagewasconducted:
Numberofcasesinwhichtheevidencewasheardincourt

2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010133

Number of defendants whose Numberoffulltrials


trials concluded in the year
noted
(omittingtrafficviolations)
6,870
164 (2.38%)
5,638
127 (2.25%)

5,497
93 (1.69%)
6,332
161 (2.54)
5,782
133 (2.3%)
5,416
82 (1.5%)

132

SeeBTselemreport,NoMinorMatter,supranote57,p.52.
TheMilitaryCourtsUnitstoppedpublishingfiguresthatyear.

133

40

Between 2008 and 2010, the military courts conducted a special project meant to examine trial
outcomesaccordingtotheindividualchargesratherthantheendresultoftheentirecase.Thesefigures
demonstrate that only a small proportion of the individual charges were in dispute and had to be
decided by the court at trial. Thus, in 2008, out of 12,894 individual charges, only 580, that is, 4.5%,
were disputed and brought to trial for resolution.134 The figures also show that 40% of the charges
includedintheindictmentsfiledincourtweredroppedbytheprosecutionaspartofapleabargain.135
Inasystembasedonsucharrangements,itwouldnotbeunreasonabletomaketheassumptionthatat
leastsomeofthechargeswereenteredintotheindictmentforthesolepurposeofbeingtakenoutina
pleabargain.136
InresponsetoareportwrittenbyIsraelihumanrightsNGOYeshDinaboutthemilitarycourts,theIDF
SpokespersonstatedthatpleabargainsarecustomaryinsideIsraelaswellandshouldnotberegarded
asimproper.Thespokespersonadded:
[O]nce the accused has decided to reach a settlement through his attorney, the
court will usually honor the settlement. Settlements are usually a definite public
interest,thatintherealityoftheregioncangreatlybenefitaccusedpersonswhose
attorneysbelievehaveahighchanceofbeingconvicted.Assumingthatthedefense
attorney has carried out his work properly, in such a case the interest to reach
settlementisfirstandforemosttheinterestoftheaccusedpersonwhocanminimize
theseverityoftheindictmentfiledagainsthim,andthatofhissentence.Therefore,
thereisnoflawinreachingsettlements.137
TheIDFSpokespersoniscorrectinsayingthatthereisnothingwrongwithpleabargainsperseandthat
theyareanintegralpartofeveryjudicialsystem.Theysavetimeforallpartiesinvolvedandoftenserve
thedefendantsinterest.ItisalsotruethatpleabargainsarecustomaryinIsrael.Astudyconductedin
IsraelinvolvingasampleofcasesheardbythecourtsbetweenMay2010andMay2011showsahigh
rate of plea bargains, albeit not as high as in the military courts. According to the findings, 76.5% of
defendants in the Magistrates Courts and 85.7% of the defendants in the District Court signed plea
bargains.138
However, the IDF Spokesperson is wrong in portraying plea bargains in military courts as if they are
made for the good of the defendants alone, in implying that defense lawyers have a duty to work
towardpleabargainsand instating that defendants signtheseplea bargains onlywhentheybelieve
[they]haveahighchanceofbeingconvicted.Thesestatementsdisregardtherealitiesofmilitarycourt

134

LeckachandDahan,supranote5,p.201.Theannualreportsproducedbythemilitarycourtspresentonly
convictionandacquittalrates,nottheactualfigures.
135
Ibid.,p.20.Seealso,MilitaryCourtsintheJudeaandSamariaArea,AnnualActivityReport2008,p.12,Annual
ActivityReport2009,p.12,AnnualActivityReport2010,p.12[Hebrew].
136
YeshDin,BackyardProceedings,supranote11,p.138.
137
Ibid.,p.143.
138
OrenGazalAyal,InbalGalonandKerenWeinshallMargel,ConvictionandAcquittalsinIsraeliCourts,supranote
50,pp.2226.

41

proceedings and the impacts of these courts remand policy: if defendants do not sign plea bargains,
theywouldhavetospendmonthsinprisonbeforetheirinnocencemightbeproven.

Conclusions

ThemissionofthemilitarycourtsystemintheJudeaandSamariaAreaistoenforcelaw
and order by trying defendants accused of security and other criminal offenses that
werecommitted intheareaordirectedagainstitwhilesecuringdueprocessand fair
trial.139
To all intents and purposes, the Israeli military court appears to be a court like any other. There are
prosecutorsanddefenseattorneys.Therearerulesofprocedure,lawsandregulations.Therearejudges
who hand down rulings and verdicts couched in reasoned legal language. Nonetheless, this faade of
proprietymasksoneofthemostinjuriousapparatusesoftheoccupation.
Inoneofhisdecisionsregardingremandincustodypendingtheendoflegalproceedings,MilitaryJudge
Lieut.Col.RonenAtzmonruled:Thelawregardingarrestsinthearea,asinIsrael,includesanumberof
rulesandreservations,presumptionsandmeansofrefutingthem.Itisimportanttoalwaysremember
thattheprimaryruleisthatsuspectsordefendantsareentitledtotheirfreedom,andoneshouldnot
hastentoarrestthem.Detentionistheexceptionratherthantherule.140Whatactuallygoesoninthe
militarycourtsystem,however,isquitetheopposite.Remandistheruleratherthantheexception,and
Lieut.Col.Atzmonsremarkmerelyunderscoresthegulfbetweenthecleanlegalrhetoricmilitarycourts
useandtheinjusticesufferedbytheindividualsprosecutedinthem,whoarealwaysPalestinians.
Withtheexceptionoftrafficviolations,themilitaryprosecutionroutinelyasksforremandincustodyfor
the duration of the proceedings and the courts approve the vast majority of the motions. Ostensibly,
military judges rely on the three conditions stipulated in Israeli law for approving remand, which are
meant to restrict the use of this measure. However, the interpretation military judges give these
conditionsrendersthemmeaninglessandnullifiestheireffectivenessaspotentchecksontheprocessof
approvingremandincustody.Insteadoftheprosecutionhavingtoprovethateachoftheconditionslaid
outinthelawhasbeenmet,theburdenofproofhasbeenshiftedontothedefendant,addingobstacles:
-

The threshold for meeting the requirement of prima facie evidence is so low that it poses no
obstacle to the prosecution. Military courts accept a single confession or incriminating
statement, dubious as it may be, as sufficient for meeting the already low threshold. Military
judges ignore complaints made by both adult and minor detainees regarding illtreatment or
abuseduringtheirinterrogation,rulingthatsuchallegationsshouldbedeliberatedonlyattrial,
whichhardlyevertakesplace.

Therequirementforgroundsfordetentionhasbeenreplacedwithastringofpresumptions
thatreleasetheprosecutionfromitsobligationtopresentevidencejustifyingthedetentionof
theparticulardefendantwhosematterisbeforethecourt.Judgeshaveruledthatthegrounds
of posing danger are automatically present in most offenses with which Palestinians are
charged.Theyhavealsoruledthatinthevastmajorityofcasesthegroundsofflightriskisalso
present,givenwheredefendantslive.

139

MilitaryCourtsintheJudeaandSamariaArea,AnnualActivityReport2013,p.2,emphasisinoriginal[Hebrew].
AA1397/11,supranote125.

140

42

Militarycourtshavealsoruledthatdefendantsinmosttypesofoffensescannotbereleasedto
analternativetocustody.Eveninthefewcasesinwhichthejudgesagreetoreleasedefendants,
theysethighbail,reachingthousandsofshekels.

Asaresultofthismilitarycourtspolicy,inmostcasesdefendantsareheldincustodyforthedurationof
theirtrial.Knowingthatatrialwilllikelytakelongerthantheprisonsentencetheywouldreceiveina
plea bargain, especially on minor charges, most defendants hasten to sign such plea bargains. All too
often,thedecisiontodetainapersonistantamounttoconviction,sincethedefendantsfateissealedat
thetimethedecisiontoremandincustodyismade,ratherthanbasedontheevidence.Inotherwords,
a pretrial decision, remand in custody of a person whohasnot been convicted, routinely rendersthe
judicialproceedingmeaningless.
Undertheprinciplessetoutininternationallaw,custodialremandforthedurationofproceedingsmay
be resorted to in exceptional cases only, certainly when minors are involved. The Human Rights
Committee, which is charged with the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights has clarified that remand cannot be ordered based only on the offense with which a
defendantischarged,thatthedefendantspersonalcircumstancesmustbetakenintoaccount,andthat
remandshouldbeusedonlywhentherearenootheravailableoptions.
As this report indicates, military courts rely on Israeli law and the jurisprudence of Israeli courts
operating inside the Green Line when it comes to remand proceedings. As clarified in a document
preparedbytheMilitaryAdvocateGeneralsCorps,relianceonIsraelilawextendstootherareasaswell:
The [military] courts have done much to bring the law applicable in the Judea and
SamariaAreaclosertoIsraelilaw,bothintermsofsubstantivelawandintermsof
legalprocedure[].Theconclusionistherefore,thatnotonlydothecourtsuphold
dueprocessinabidtoconductfairtrials,buttheyalsostrikeanappropriatebalance
between the public interest of penalizing offenders and the basic rights of
defendantsincriminalproceedings,inaccordancewiththenormsacceptedinIsraeli
law.141
However, the two legal systems, the one inside the Green Line and the one in the West Bank, are
fundamentally different. They are predicated on different values and protect different interests.142
UnliketheIsraelijusticesystem,themilitarycourtsdonotreflecttheinterestsofthedefendantsown
society,butrathertheinterests of theregimeofoccupation, anoccupation fastapproachingthe fifty
yearmark.
The militaryjudgesandprosecutorsare alwaysIsraelis.They aresoldiers inuniformenforcingmartial
law on the civilian Palestinian population living under military rule. The people who take part in
administering the occupation are on one side, while the regimes subjects are on the other. Military
courtsarenotanimpartial,neutralarbitrator.Theyarefirmlyentrenchedononesideofthisunequal
balance.
TheapplicationofIsraelilawmaybesignificantonadeclarativelevel.Inpractice,however,theuseof
languagerootedintheIsraelilegalworldobfuscatesthecrucialdifferencesbetweentheIsraelijustice
141

ResponseoftheIDFandtheMinistryofJusticetoACRIreport,30November2014.Thefullresponseisavailable
at:http://www.law.idf.il/1636949he/Patzar.aspx[Hebrew].
142
Formore,seeSmadarBenNatan,supranote3.

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system that operates inside Israels sovereign borders and the military courts operating in the West
Bank.Assuch,itsmaincontributiontothemilitaryjusticesystemisnotinprovidingbroaderprotection
fordefendantsrightsorseeingjusticedone,butratherasawhitewash,glossingovertheflawsofthe
militarycourtsystem.

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