Wednesday, June 17, 2009

PA legal system only exists for "collaborators"

Since the intifada, I have seen very few articles in the Palestinian Arab press about trials given for regular crimes - theft, murder, extortion, drug-dealing. Arrests, yes; trials, no.

With the exception of trials for "collaborators" with Israel.

This AP article is disturbing on many levels, but in addition it shows that apparently entire courtrooms are constructed just to sentence so-called "collaborators". It also shows the depths of hatred that Palestinian Arabs have towards Israel - to the point that they prefer their wives remain prostitutes rather than speak to Israelis:
A 22-year-old Palestinian woman, who says she became an informer for Israel to earn money that would get her out of prostitution, is going to prison for life. Others convicted of collaboration with Israel by West Bank courts sit on death row.

In the most recent case Monday, a military tribunal in a security compound in the West Bank town of Jenin sentenced 22-year-old Taghreed - her last name was not released - to a life term of hard labor.

The dark-skinned, portly woman, wearing a lace headscarf and blue jeans, remained calm while the sentence was announced. She refused to speak to reporters and none of her family attended the trial, indicating they had washed their hands of her.

The scene played out in a hastily assembled courtroom of plastic chairs, benches and a Palestinian flag.

Earlier, Taghreed had told the court that she turned informer after she left her husband, who had forced her to work as a prostitute and thus turned her into an outcast.

The information the woman sold was low-level - nothing that led to arrests by the Israelis, according to military prosecutor Raed Dalbah.

"If I was the judge, I would shoot her on the spot," said a guard outside the courtroom, spitting on the ground to emphasize his disgust at Taghreed.

In the past two years alone, West Bank tribunals have convicted seven people of collaboration, including Taghreed. She was the only one not sentenced to death, though the executions were not carried out.

During the two Palestinian uprisings, vigilante gunmen often killed suspected collaborators, at times with crowds looking on. After Israel withdrew from parts of the West Bank in the 1990s, it relocated hundreds of collaborators to Israel to protect them from retribution.

Palestinian human rights activists say they oppose the death penalty on principle, but most have not rushed to the defense of collaborators.

"We do not think there should be a death sentence," said Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian legislator and human rights advocate. "The punishment has to fit the crime. The crime, in the popular imagination, is the most unconscionable crime. It is a betrayal of everything that people hold sacred."
Does the PA not have a single real courtroom to try criminals?