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Israel’s military courts fines Palestinians $16m in three years

Relatives of a Palestinian defendant watch proceedings at the Ofer military court in the West Bank [File photo]

Israel’s military courts have imposed fines topping 60 million shekels ($16 million) on West Bank Palestinians from 2015 to 2017, “even though the great majority of the offenses don’t involve the harming of people or property”, reported Haaretz.  

According to the report, “the money is deposited in the Israeli Civil Administration’s accounts in the West Bank and is managed by an officer also subordinate to Israel’s Finance Ministry”.

The report cites examples of fines, such as the December 2018 conviction of a Beit Ummar resident of throwing a stone at Israeli occupation forces “from an unknown distance”. Although “the stone did not hit anyone and caused no damage”, he was jailed for six months and fined 2,000 shekels.

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In October 2018, a military judge convicted a 45-year-old man of what the court considered a “hostile terrorist offense” – namely, “he went on a family picnic holding a hunting rifle with one bullet in it”. In a plea deal, “he was sentenced to two months in prison and fined 3,000 shekels”.

The Haaretz articles note how “experience shows that a Palestinian cannot be released from detention or prison without paying the fine imposed on him, regardless of the offense’s severity”.

“The fines imposed on Palestinians in the military courts are extremely exaggerated, both in their scope compared with the size of the population and its economic ability,” Combatants for Peace told Haaretz.

A member of the group also told the paper that in the Jordan Valley region of the West Bank, fines to release tractors that Israeli occupation authorities “had confiscated from farmers [forbidding them to cultivate their land] sometimes reached 4,000 shekels”.

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