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New film tackles military justice system in the West Bank

A new film by Israeli director Ra’anan Alexandrowicz tackles the issue of military courts in the West Bank like it has never been investigated on film. Israel’s military legal justice system in the West Bank has been treated on +972 in relatively great detail especially in reference to the unarmed demonstrations which have spread through border villages for the past eight years. According to the press release for the film,

The Law in These Parts explores the four-decade-old military legal system in the Occupied Territories. Since Israel conquered the territories in the 1967 War, the Israeli Defense Forces legal corps have created and implemented thousands of military orders and laws, established military courts, sentenced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. This complex system which is invisible to most Israelis is very present in Palestinian daily life and is unique in the entire world. Till today, the IDF legal professionals face judicial and moral dilemmas as they develop and uphold a system of long-term “rule by law” of an occupied population by an occupying army, all under the supervision of the Israeli High Court of Justice. Using interviews, archival footage and deep historical research, this film explores the formal legal mechanisms of Israel’s forty year military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

The Israeli human rights organization Btselem released today a report about Palestinian minors arrested on suspicion of stone throwing. The report claims that nearly all Palestinian minors that are charged with stone throwing are found guilty or plead guilty because of pressure to plea bargain. The pressure, the report claims, stems from the fact that minors are almost always kept in jail during the course of their trial which can sometimes last for months. This phenomenon does not only effect children but seems to have a damaging effect on them given their age and ability to remain in jail without parents or family for a long period.

Haaretz quotes some statistics from the report.

Of the 853 arrested, 18 were aged 12-13 and 255 were 14-15 .Sixty percent of the 12-13 year-olds received prison terms ranging from a few days to up to two months. Fifteen percent of all the minors served terms of more than six months and 1 percent served longer than a year.

In 2009, Israel arrested a number of children, aged 14 and 15, in the West Bank village of Bil’in in order to extract testimony that was used to jail nonviolent leader Abdallah abu Rahmah for 16 months. The same thing is now happening to Nabi Saleh popular committee leader Bassem Tamimi. 14 year old Islam Tamimi was arrested last January during a night raid on his home. The testimony extracted from him is now being used to prosecute Bassem Tamimi despite a court case initiated by Tamimi’s lawyer which argues that the testimony is invalid because it was acquired through psychological torture of a minor. (Full disclose: When Islam Tamimi was arrested, I served as the temporary media coordinator of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee which handled his case)

The gravity of Israel’s control over the Palestinians can be understood from a new vantage point when looking at the military justice system in the West Bank. This under reported aspect of Israel’s occupation infrastructure demonstrates clearly how ruthless Israeli control over the West Bank needs to be in order to maintain itself.  Anyone familiar with Israel’s occupation will surely benefit from renewed study of the occupation legal system due to its relative invisibility in the mainstream press. You can read the full Btselem report released today in English here.

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    1. annie

      i can’t thank you enough

      Reply to Comment
    2. Eoin

      Is there an iPhone friendly video link? Vimeo won’t play on my phone

      Reply to Comment
    3. What happened to the longer version that was posted first — it was over 23 minutes, and on Vimeo? It was even more devastating than this Youtube version, which is just half the length of what was on Vimeo… Can it be re-posted somewhere?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Prior to the Oslo Accords, what was the Israeli military’s jurisdiction over the West Bank? What are the PA-operated courts like in Area A and Area B? I’ve heard stories such as these – and I love that they’re getting press now – about the Israeli courts which Palestinians face. But what of the PA courts?

      Reply to Comment
    5. sandy

      “Israel’s forty year military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza”


      Except for the Hamas’s hostage Gilad Shalit, not a single Israeli soldier resides in Gaza.

      And not a single Israeli law – neither military nor civil – is enforced in Gaza.

      But I guess you Antizionists have long proceeded to fight the “media war” using exorbitant exaggerations and straight-out lies – and, of course, catchy propaganda phrases like “military occupation”.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Gracie

      The seminal book about the Kafkaesque procedjures in West Bank military courts is Lisa Hajjar’s “Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza”.(University of California Press 2005). Although dated, it is a must read for people who believe the legal process in Israel is fair and just.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Mordechai ben Yosef

      Whoa Sandy! Thou doth protest. Or maybe we use different number systems. Gaza 1967-2005=38, not too far from 40. West Bank 1967-now=44. So i think 40 is not worth stirring your bile over.I didn’t think calling a military occupation a “military occupation” was too catchy.Is there something else bothering you?

      Reply to Comment
    8. annie

      from vimeo.

      “Sorry, “The Law In These Parts” was deleted at 11:13:43 Mon Jul 18, 2011. We have no more information about it on our mainframe or elsewhere. ”

      too bad, i watched the film when joseph first put up the post, it was excellent. they knew, they knew, the judges knew all along.

      Reply to Comment
    9. The director of the Law in Three Parts has informed me that the clip which was embedded here was not for use on the internet and threatened his film. So it has been removed and it will be replaced with an official trailer as soon as one is ready.

      Reply to Comment
    10. annie

      thanks joseph.

      congrats on pushing over 10,000 followers btw.

      Reply to Comment