Israel, Day #6: Face-to-Face with The Enemy (Sort Of)
To get there, we drove out of Jerusalem along the highway that weaves in and out of the West Bank, along the security fence, past a checkpoint, several of the infamous settlements (they looked benign) and onto a military base that consisted of a number of mobile homes (thankfully air conditioned).
We were inside the West Bank at this point, although only a half hour or so out of Jerusalem. It's not isolated like Guantanamo. Indeed, it can't be.
The trials took place inside the mobile homes. We sat in on one of them where a half-dozen men were being arraigned for what appeared to be relatively minor infractions, although, we learned later, many serious terrorists had been through this place. The courtroom was apparently open to the public, including "human rights" NGOs that frequented it, although we and our hosts were the only ones in the audience this time.
We attracted the curious stares of the defendants who, ten feet away from us, didn't look the least frightened or intimidated. Their defense attorneys, one of them with a trendy haircut out of Melrose Avenue, were trying to get them bail. (Difficult, I was told.) The defense attorneys were apparently Christian Arabs paid for their work by Hamas or the Palestinian Authority, depending on the allegiance of the (almost always) men in the dock. I was startled to hear that the dreaded Hamas could be involved at this level, but was met with a shrug.
It seemed the same mixture of scattered impatience and studied jurisprudence I was used to from American courts. A job was being done with the usual fairness.
Our friends at the United Nations, specifically UNICEF, I was later informed by one of the prosecutors, felt differently. A recently filed report entitled "Palestinian children in Israeli military detention" accuses the Israelis of not reading these children their rights. Strangely enough, however, this same report (it was shown to me) cites as proof of this accusation a transcript of the interrogation of a Palestinian youth in which he was read his rights in detail, essentially Mirandized. Go figure.
Well, don't figure too long, because it's the UN, that same organization that devotes a staggering percentage of its efforts to attacking Israel. Just keep this in your head next Halloween.
Thumbnail image courtesy shutterstock / Andrey Burmakin
Check out the previous installments in Roger L. Simon's trip to Israel: