TEL AVIV (Dec. 30)
The United States is satisfied so far with the way Israel is conducting the trials of Palestinians arrested for rioting and incitement in the administered territories, an American diplomat indicated Wednesday.
Morris Draper, the U.S. consul general in East Jerusalem, said American officials observing the trials report that they are being carried out with full regard to the “due process of law.” Draper was interviewed on the Israel Defense Force educational television program.
An Arabic-speaking official from the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem and a Hebrew-speaking envoy from the U.S. Consulate in Tel Aviv on Tuesday attended the trials in Nablus military court, where 48 suspects were charged with various security offenses.
They officials said they planned to visit other courts in the territories where trials are under way and would report their observations to their superiors.
But a group of prominent West Bank lawyers announced Tuesday they would boycott the trials because the proceedings are “humiliating and illegal.”
Nevertheless, three Arab lawyers showed up at the Nablus court to represent nine of 18 defendants whose hearings had already begun.
Lawyers in the Gaza Strip, however, are continuing their boycott begun last week and most defendants there are without legal counsel.
HARSH PENALTIES REPORTED
Haaretz reported Wednesday that the imposition of harsh penalties on youths who pleaded guilty to charges of violence in the Gaza Strip has aroused anger and hatred among local residents.
According to Haaretz correspondent Eitan Rabin, four youngsters aged 15 to 18 confessed they prepared gasoline bombs and threw them at Israeli military vehicles.
The military judge, Lt. Col. Yosef Liav, sentenced them to between two and two-and-a-half years in prison. The defendants were shocked by the severity of the sentences and refused to rise from their seats, the correspondent reported.
Meanwhile, a 7-year-old Palestinian youth died Wednesday at Soroka hospital in Beersheba of bullet wounds he suffered in a clash with an IDF patrol at the Jebalya refugee camp last week. Two soldiers and 10 camp residents were injured in the melee.
Haaretz noted Wednesday that the measures being taken by Israel in the aftermath of nearly three weeks of violence in the administered territories are not new.
The newspaper recalled that the Cabinet voted in August 1985 to reinstate deportations and administrative arrests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to create “environmental motivation” against terrorism. The decision ended a five-year period during which no residents of the territories were deported.
During the six months that followed the Cabinet decision, 21 former security offenders, released in a 1985 prisoner exchange, were expelled to Jordan. Most of the deportees in recent years have not been convicted of terrorists acts, but of incitement, contact with terrorist organizations or “political subversion,” Haaretz said.
Palestinians suspected of subversive acts were deported, while those accused of less serious offenses were usually placed under administrative detention or “house arrest,” the paper said.