Despite total lack of evidence, Israeli court sentences ‘Hares Boys’ to 15 years in prison

Israel/Palestine
on 27 Comments

“It is a mistake to conceptualize ethnic cleansing simply as a physical act. It’s importance lies in its psychological power.” ~ Steven Salaita                                                                 

No evidence, no eye witnesses, and no crime preceded the capture, torture and forced confessions of the Hares Boys, 5 Palestinian youths from the West Bank village of Hares. And yet Ali Shamlawi, Mohammed Kleib, Mohammed Suleiman, Ammar Souf, and Tamer Souf were recently sentenced, after almost 3 years of imprisonment and over 100 hearings, by the Israeli occupation military court to 15 years in prison.

Ali Shamlawi

Ali Shamlawi

How do we tell the story that has been reported repeatedly since the Hares Boys horrific abductions? Beginning at 3 a.m. the morning after the crash? Do we start with the car accident on Thursday night March 14 resulting, eventually 2 years later, in the death of a little girl who became a national symbol of the dangers of rock throwing? Or the Prime Minister facing a gridlock trying to form a government while members in his own party were threatening to abandon him if he didn’t kowtow to the settlers (extremist members had threatened to take over Likud)? Or perhaps the coalition agreement signed the afternoon after the accident between Netanyahu’s Likud and the religious Zionist Jewish Home party, an agreement Gershon Mesika, then head of Shomron Regional Council representing over 30 illegal settlements in the northern West Bank, called “a wet dream” for settlers? 

Mohammed Suleiman

Mohammed Suleiman

A distraught settler mother from the  illegal West Bank settlement of Yakir who slammed her car into the back of a parked truck on Route 5, injuring herself and her 3 children, claimed the accident occurred because a rock hit her car.  The truck driver had suddenly hit his brakes, he told police, because he heard a thud and thought he had a flat tire. The truck driver mentions nothing about rocks when he makes his initial statement to the police. The settler, Adva Biton, whose mother Rachel happened to work at Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office on his professional staff, claimed a rock hit her car which caused her to drive into the back of the truck. Tragically, one of Biton’s children, 3 year-old Adele, had suffered brain injuries and was  pronounced clinically dead at the scene of the accident by an Israeli doctor, but Muawiya Qabha, a Palestinian volunteer paramedic who was the first medical responder was convinced he could save little Adele’s life.

The truck driver later amended his statement, coincidentally corroborating the settler mother, and claimed he too recalled rocks hitting his vehicle.

Tamer Souf

Tamer Souf

Haaretz reported on the evening of the accident that Shomron council chief Gershon Masika, (an infamous settler, lawyer, politician, who ran over a 16-year-old girl before getting out of his car and shooting her to death last November), responded to the Biton accident by saying stone-throwing should be defined as terrorism:

 [T]he warped policy of not defining stone-throwing as terrorism creates a situation of utter anarchy. In the last few months the number of stone-throwing incidents has increased yet the government refuses to respond.

The political climate during winter 2013 was dire. Palestinians had accused Israel of taking provocative actions in retaliation for their successful statehood bid at the U.N.. Israeli forces were escalating their crowd control methodsstepping up the use of live ammunition to provoke violent resistance, arresting, wounding and killing many Palestinian youths protesting while Palestinian prisoners were on hungerstrike over Israel’s draconian policy of administration detention. Samer Issawi was on verge of death and the Israeli government was claiming Hamas was gearing up “terror cells” for suicide bombing operations in the West Bank. The night before the car accident Israeli soldiers had been launching raids all across the West Bank. Provocative raids had been going on for months.

Ammar Souf

Ammar Souf

This is the climate in which masked Israeli soldiers and attack dogs raided Hares and the neighboring village of Kifl Hares, Palestinian villages near the scene of the car accident, breaking down doors blindfolding and handcuffing children — eventually abducting 19 boys for torture and interrogation, none of whom had ever been arrested for rock throwing before. Reuters reported Mohammed Suleiman had to be hospitalized from beatings endured during interrogations, “jailed in an underground cell for 24 days.”

Not one piece of evidence. In the ensuing weeks after arrests, interrogations, solitary confinement, forced confessions and military court hearings, 14 boys were released but 5 boys from Hares remained in prison. Ignoring eyewitness testimony which placed them at other locations at the time of the accident, the Hares Boys were each charged with 25 counts of attempted murder.

After the accident 61 settler “witnesses” came forward claiming their cars were also damaged by Palestinian rock throwers, although extensive CCTV footage in the area did not verify their claims and not one of those so called witnesses had called the police that day when their cars were allegedly damaged. Not one.

Mohammed Kleib

Mohammed Kleib

No doubt challenged by settler council chief Gershon Masika’s accusation, within the month Netanyahu had used the occasion of the annual Yom Hazikaron ceremony, the national day of public mourning for those who die “in defense” of Israel, to open his speech mourning the plight of Adele Biton and declaring rocks were “lethal weapons” and  branded rock throwing as “an act of terror”.

After almost 3 grueling years, on Thursday, January 28, 2016 each of the Hares Boys were officially sentenced to 15 years in prison for manslaughter, after a plea deal in which $7,750 was extracted, by the court, from each boy’s family as a ‘compensation’ to the Bikon settler family. Non-acceptance of this ‘deal’ carried the threat of an even steeper charge and sentence.

The Free The Hares Boys campaign press release:

The sentence was announced following almost three years of uncertainty since Mohammed Suleiman, Mohammed Kleib, Ali Shamlawi, Tamer Souf andAmmar Souf – residents of Hares village in the West Bank of Palestine – were arrested and accused of ‘attempted murder’ by stone-throwing after an illegal Israeli settler car crashed into a truck parked on a road next to their village. That was mid-March 2013, light years away when you are 16 years old and locked up in an occupation dungeon for a car accident you had nothing to do with; a crime that never happened.

Thursday’s sentencing was a plea deal offered by the Israeli military prosecutor that involved ‘fines’ of NIS 30,000 (appr. €7,100 or $7,750) per boy to be paid to the settler driver as ‘compensation’. One of her daughters died two years after the crash from pneumonia complications attributed to neurological damage experienced during the accident. Failure to accept the deal, it was implied, would result in extended prison sentences. The boys’ families felt they had no choice but to accept. “We took the bad to avoid the worst,” they said in their despair.

Almost three years of legal battles in military courts that have a record of convicting Palestinians at a rate very close to 100%.

Almost three years of military court ‘hearings’ that last just a few minutes, conducted by Israeli military personnel in Hebrew, a language neither the boys nor their families understand; the soldier-translator would rarely do their job properly and would instead prefer to play with their phone.

Almost three years of dozens – well over 100 – such ‘hearings’ in metal cages that pass for a House of Justice, only to find out that your incarceration is prolonged once again.

Almost three years knowing that you ‘confessed’, under torture, of throwing stones at settler cars, that you ‘confessed’ after being beaten up and psychologically intimidated, and spending days in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer, and that this ‘confession’ is the only ‘evidence’ the military tribunal has against you, yet that it would probably be enough for them to convict you.

Almost three years of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers not knowing whether you would be home for the next Ramadan or to finish your high school exams. Not knowing when they could finally hug you and talk to you without a broken telephone through a dirty glass window.

Almost three years of international efforts to bring the case of the Hares Boys to the eyes and consciences of those in power, and to demand justice. We invited you to protest, organize demonstrations, write to your MPs, write to your embassy in Tel Aviv, attend military court ‘hearings’, collect money to help the families deal with the financial burden, to spread the message about the injustice being committed to these young lives of Palestine. And you responded, in your hundreds and in your thousands, from Costa Rica to France, from Mexico to Britain. We thank you for that. You’ve been a lifeline of support to the boys’ families in such devastating time.

But the fight is not over.

If we stop demanding justice, five young men are to spend the next 15 years of their lives in prison. For them and other prisoners, their families, communities and their people, we must continue the struggle.

We invite you all, wherever you are, to join hands with us, to strengthen the efforts to achieve justice and FREEDOM for the five youth of Hares, Palestine.

Randa Wahbe from Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights organization stated “It’s quite clear that they’re using this case as an example to other children to control the population and to control communities, that they could face charges like this if they step out of line in any way.” Yeah, it’s importance lies in its psychological power.

In a military court system that serves the occupation of a colonial state convicting Palestinians at a 99.7% rate, justice takes a beating.

And that, is the draconian fate of the Hares Boys.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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27 Responses

  1. amigo
    February 1, 2016, 1:04 pm

    Annie, there is no justice in the rogue entity.Being Palestinian is all the evidence necessary to convict.Normal people require that the truly guilty be punished.Settler scum are satisfied as long as someone goes to jail , even those who are innocent. That is why these vermin need to be chased out of occupied Palestine to wherever they are accepted and if not , let them roam around aimlessly looking for refuge .They deserve no quarter.

    • Annie Robbins
      February 1, 2016, 1:16 pm

      Settler scum are satisfied as long as someone goes to jail, even those who are innocent.

      no, just going to jail wouldn’t have satisfied them amigo. did you read the article? the settlers demanded rock throwing be classified as attempted murder and a terrorist act. while routine, draconian settler violence runs rampant, and occupation soldiers provoke and incite violence and attack protestors, they want palestinian rock throwing criminalized as murder.

      the haaretz article published the day of the accident cites Gershon Masika. he wields a lot of power, or he did at that time he is no longer the head of the settlers council, rued the lack of a policy “defining stone-throwing as terrorism”. they pushed that and they got their wish. did you read the whole article? it’s not just the sentence of the Hares Boys, it’s importance lies in its psychological power over palestinian society. that’s their goal.

      the quote from Addameer’s Wahbe:

      using this case as an example to other children to control the population and to control communities, that they could face charges like this if they step out of line in any way

      • amigo
        February 1, 2016, 2:45 pm

        Annie, I got very upset reading it and stopped halfway.My point about someone going to jail was simply to point out that the settlers could care less if an innocent Palestinian goes to jail , just as long as someone does.They don,t care if the guilty person is still roaming around free.They just want any Palestinian jailed because in their twisted minds , all Palestinians are terrorists.

        I don,t buy , this is all a plan control the population as it flies in the face of the real goal which is to push Palestinians so far they react with violence and Israel can play victim again.The last thing Israel wants is a very large population of completely subdued “citizens ” —ooops , sorry ,wrong term –lets call them inmates who do not resist for extended periods , or worse still , not at all ,which would put a spanner in the Israeli , mowing the lawn works given the absence of so called terrorist acts.The international community just might catch on if there are no rockets being lobbed in Israel,s direction or stabbings /car ramming s. Why , Netanyhu and co would be robbed of all their first line of defence.

        I will agree that Israel wants to control the level of violence it has to endure but it could not continue to steal and grow without the myth (cover) of victim hood fed daily to the international community.That requires that Palestinians mount resistance on an ongoing basis .Of course , it is all self defeating in the long run.

        Maybe it is just my perception but it seems the level of condemnations of Israel,s policies/actions are at an all time high .Ban Ki Moon, Wallstrom , France , Kerry, EU etc etc.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 1, 2016, 3:34 pm

        Annie, I got very upset reading it and stopped halfway.

        you know, as i tried to convey in my opening, it can be challenging reporting a story everyone already thinks they know inside and out. my text isn’t just filler for carlos’s excellent cartoon. in fact we conversed and i ask his if he could do another hares boys cartoon now that they had been sentenced because i had something to say about it.

        i wanted to write about this story because the whole of israel extremism and the turn the gov has taken towards the religious nationalists is very much about this event. they are the ones who have been pushing for the re definition of rock throwing. anyway, there’s a bunch of stuff in this report not in others. so i’m sorry you didn’t read it.

        that said, i initially responded to what you said about the settlers, and when you reduce the situation down to “They just want any Palestinian jailed …. all Palestinians are terrorists” i think you are missing a fundamental piece of the puzzle in understanding where these people – the extremists religious nutjobs – are coming from.

        I don,t buy , this is all a plan control the population

        i highly recommend a review of “Video: Israeli settler lecturing Palestinian farmers — ‘You’ll all be our slaves, if you’re worthy, if you behave well’ ” – See more at: link to mondoweiss.net

        this was filmed 4 months before the car accident. it is also in the Salfit region of the west bank. i am not claiming they do not want palestinians out, but i am claiming they advocate policies that severely restrict them — because they want total control and their religious texts allows palestinians to live there in a servile, docile animal like fashion.

        also, something i didn’t a chance to sqeeze into the post was that the ‘landmark’ NYT article link to mondoweiss.net by Ben Ehrenreich who wrote about the tamimi’s of nabi saleh was published the day after the accident. bassam tamimi said “We see our stones as our message”. for palestinians, stones are the resistance. now — i don’t know. but it was a settler goal to criminalize the stones, before that it was generally a three year maximum sentence. it’s more than just imprisoning people, it’s deligitimizing their resistance as terrorism, legally. that’s one reason i picked up salaita’s quote about ethnic cleansing at the top and the base.

        the case sets a precedence.

      • amigo
        February 1, 2016, 4:07 pm

        “i wanted to write about this story because the whole of israel extremism and the turn the gov has taken towards the religious nationalists is very much about this event. they are the ones who have been pushing for the re definition of rock throwing. anyway, there’s a bunch of stuff in this report not in others. so i’m sorry you didn’t read it.” Annie.

        Apologies Annie.I do respect all your articles and I went right back and read it all .And no your text is not just filler.I initially reacted based on my disgust for everything these settler scum stand for and in doing so missed the overall message.

        Mea culpa .

      • RoHa
        February 1, 2016, 4:26 pm

        Sets a precedent, Annie.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 1, 2016, 5:30 pm

        thanks amigo. i was really surprised to run into the information the child’s grandmother worked in netanyahu’s office. the whole thing reeks of power, revenge and cronyism. the mother, it was probably just too much to bear that she had killed her own child.

        and roha, i just realized i forgot to say that in the article. i so hope they get out before this 15 years. it totally crushes me their youth is ripped away like this. the occupation can’t last 15 more years. i give it 5 more before it snaps.

      • Marnie
        February 2, 2016, 11:10 am

        The flower of Palestinian youth rotting in israeli prisons. BDS and ICC are the only ways to kill this snake called the state of israel.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 2, 2016, 1:44 pm

        flower of palestinian youth. i know marnie. i look at their young faces and they are all so beautiful. i imagine if it was my sone how crushed i would be having him stolen from me and imagining his whole youth gone in a flash — just waisting away for nothing. i pray this nightmare ends for all the youth locked away. so cruel. so very cruel. life happens. people have car accidents. must everything be turned into an opportunity for revenge and more sadism.

      • Marnie
        February 3, 2016, 2:34 am

        Annie –
        This tragedy, being called “The Hares Boys” and the ensuing kangaroo court, sentence and extortion paid by the parents of these boys I hope and pray will be one of the final nails in the coffin of all things zionist. The resident hasbarists would rather joust over the use of quotation marks than the continued hideous injustices perpetrated by their brethren. They love to talk about “historic homeland” but this so-called history comes from a book most of them have no use for, except to attempt to justify their treachery. What about justice?

        Amos 5:23-24
        23″Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. 24″But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

        Mr. Latuff – thank you! You’ve given me a face for every troll at MW and other places with your drawing of the settler standing and smirking over justice defeated.

  2. eljay
    February 1, 2016, 3:10 pm

    Every time it seems as though Zio-supremacists have finally reached the depths of injustice and immorality, they manage to scrape a little bit deeper.

    The truly disgusting thing is that one day, when their “Thousand Year ‘Jewish State'” has collapsed, these hateful and immoral hypocrite f*ckers will be screaming for their right to justice, accountability and equality. >:-(

    • Emory Riddle
      February 1, 2016, 5:12 pm

      They take no responsibility for anything ever. They are eternal victims and have never done anything wrong. And when the inevitable backlash comes, they will learn nothing. It will be seen by them as proof that the world hates them because they are Jewish.

    • MaxNarr
      February 2, 2016, 1:12 am

      Can you please reference the quote where any Jewish leader mentioned a “Thousand Year” Jewish state? Seems like a very strange terminology.

      • eljay
        February 2, 2016, 11:28 am

        || MaxNarr: Can you please reference the quote where any Jewish leader mentioned a “Thousand Year” Jewish state? … ||

        Who said “any Jewish leader mentioned” it?

        || … Seems like a very strange terminology. ||

        Not at all. Like other hateful and immoral people before you, you Zio-supremacists think your unjust and immoral construct will last forever.

        And like other hateful and immoral people before you, you Zio-supremacists will be so very sad when it doesn’t… :-(

      • MaxNarr
        February 2, 2016, 1:49 pm

        eljay, your fake statements are confusing you put “Thousand Year Jewish State” in quotes but I guess not the quote was fabricated? Or you were quoting yourself? Then you have this word that you made up
        “Zio-supreme” which itself is confusing. Why not simply call things for what they are? Like I don’t go “Pali-terrorist” and “Islamo-fascist” I always found it strange that on the extreme right and the extreme left there is this tendency to make up words and phrases that are not based in reality. They make you sound like a nutter. To close this out, 1,000 years is not forever, the Jewish people waited a lot longer than that to return to Israel. Maybe you should up it to 10,000.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 2, 2016, 3:54 pm

        max, you’re right regarding the double quotes. it’s more helpful if people (including eljay) do not use them unless they are actually quoting someone because otherwise one goes on a search looking for the original source. single quotes are better in this regard and get the job done.

        Then you have this word that you made up “Zio-supreme” which itself is confusing. Why not simply call things for what they are? Like I don’t go “Pali-terrorist” and “Islamo-fascist”

        there’s a difference between your first and last examples and “Pali-terrorist”. pali is a slur. it’s like saying ‘jewie-supremacist’ — which we would not publish if used in a serious way. whereas islamo fascism has it’s own wiki page link to en.wikipedia.org and zio supremacist should have their own too — because it has meaning and doesn’t slur jews, it slurs zionism which is a political ideology and as such is subject to the same treatment (critical analysis or insults) as any other political ideology one should be allowed to critique.

      • eljay
        February 2, 2016, 6:31 pm

        || MaxNarr: eljay, your fake statements are confusing … ||

        There was nothing fake about my statement.

        || … you put “Thousand Year Jewish State” in quotes … ||

        That’s right, I did.

        || … but I guess not … ||

        Why would you guess not, when it’s clear that I did put that phrase in quotes?

        || … “Zio-supreme” which itself is confusing. … ||

        I’m not familiar with the term “Zio-supreme”. What does it mean?

        || … Why not simply call things for what they are? … ||

        I do. You are a Zionist supremacist –> Zio-supremacist. I get that you’re a little slow, but it’s really not that complicated.

        || … Like I don’t go “Pali-terrorist” and “Islamo-fascist” … ||

        Like, who’s stopping you?

        || … I always found it strange that on the extreme right and the extreme left there is this tendency to make up words and phrases that are not based in reality. … ||

        Yup, phrases such as “Jewish State”, “historic homeland”, “moral beacon”, “ancient homeland”, “light unto the nations”, “Jewish and democratic”, etc.

        || … They make you sound like a nutter. … ||

        Yes, you do.

        || … To close this out, 1,000 years is not forever, the Jewish people waited a lot longer than that to return to Israel. Maybe you should up it to 10,000. ||

        It doesn’t matter whether you claim your state will last a thousand years, ten thousand years or forever. Like all hateful and immoral supremacists, you will be very very sad when your supremacist state collapses. :-(

  3. Yehudi Ben Israel
    February 1, 2016, 5:42 pm

    Palestinian under the occupation and in Israel have better lives than Arabs in other countries, that means the way Israel treats them is okay. If you disagree it means you hate Jews.

    *no earnest long responses please, this is satirical*

    • Annie Robbins
      February 2, 2016, 2:54 am

      *no earnest long responses please, this is satirical*

      shorter Yehudi Ben Israel: everyone who doesn’t agree w/me is a bigot.

      re your claim of satire. anyone can click on your name and check out your archive y’know.

    • talknic
      February 2, 2016, 5:57 am

      @ YBI

      Uh huh … satirical

      • Mooser
        February 2, 2016, 11:04 am

        “this is satirical”

        A coward who doesn’t even know how to use an asterisk. There’s a very, very pithy Yiddish word for a person like that!
        And if there isn’t, I’ll make one up.

    • eljay
      February 2, 2016, 8:11 am

      || Yehudi Ben Israel: Palestinian under the occupation and in Israel have better lives than Arabs in other countries, that means the way Israel treats them is okay. If you disagree it means you hate Jews. ||

      The women chained in the genteel rapist’s basement have better lives than women in the basements of sadistic killers. That means the way the rapist treats them is okay. If you disagree it means you hate males.

  4. oldgeezer
    February 1, 2016, 7:25 pm

    There can be only sadness and no suprise at this verdict. Israel has become a rogue state ruled by thugs. Any morality that it was ruled by has been long buried to make way for the racist regime. It cannot end well but the outcome is of their own making.

  5. Sally Parker
    February 2, 2016, 12:45 am

    Settlers throw stones at Palestinians all the time. Are they terrorists too?

  6. Marnie
    February 2, 2016, 1:39 am

    There isn’t a word horrible enough to describe this.

  7. Ossinev
    February 2, 2016, 6:29 am

    Another great Latuff cartoon. It would be great to have a compendium of these with accompanying articles in book form. The Zionists would scream Anti -Semitic and soil their pants of course which would make it all the more satisfying.

    As for Israeli “law” in relation to the Palestinians and by default in this case in relation to the settlers it is more and more becoming “guilty until proven guilty” which as has been pointed out is in 99% of cases.

    As gruesome and horrible for the kids and their families as it is and I hope and pray that despite everything these innocents will be released – it serves as a further illustration to Western societies including the moral Jewish people in those societies of just how far to the Fascist right the Land of Creation has drifted – and I`m afraid there ain`t no going back.

    BOYCOTT UGLY FASCIST APARTHEID ISRAEL
    SUPPORT BDS
    TELL YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS ABOUT BDS

  8. Ossinev
    February 2, 2016, 1:27 pm

    @maxnarr
    “Can you please reference the quote where any Jewish leader mentioned a “Thousand Year” Jewish state? Seems like a very strange terminology”
    Eljay was of course raising the comparison with the Nazi concept of the “thousand year Reich”. This is a ridiculous comparison you will agree as Israel is of course eternal and has existed as God`s chosen land with God`s chosen people since the dawn of time and long before goyim neanderthals walked the earth.

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