Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) -- Two young residents of Silwan have been sentenced to 5 months in prison, after a two year long legal battle against Israeli authorities. Omar Ameen Siyam and Mahmoud al-Bana, both 23, weathered two years of prison, house arrest, interrogation and torture. The economic impact of their ongoing cases has been extreme: legal fees and rental costs (to serve their house arrests outside their home neighborhoods, as ordered by the court) amounts to 140,000 NIS (US$37,800) Siyam and al-Bana’s lawyers have also come under attack, with authorities lodging accusations of conspiracy to kill settlers at the City of David archaeological settlement in Silwan.
The case began in Ramadan of 2009 when, on 11 September, an Israeli settler shot Wadi Hilweh Popular Committee member Ahmad Qaraeen, 39, in both legs. The attack has left Qaraeen disabled to this day. The same settler then shot a local child, Ameer Froukh, as he rode his bike in the neighborhood. Froukh was also hit in the leg, with live ammunition from the settler’s gun.
The incidents sparked clashes between local residents and Israeli forces. Wadi Hilweh district instantaneously became a militarized area, with tensions already running high over Ramadan. Israeli forces interrogated entire families: children, women, men, young and elderly alike were intimidated and questioned.
Omar Ameen Siyam and Mahmoud al-Bana, in addition to his brothers Naeem, 17, and Murad, 19, were arrested during this crackdown. The 4 youngsters were imprisoned for 2 months, then banned from entry to Silwan upon release. Not long after they were sentenced to house arrest.
The Israeli state prosecution then attempted to charge the boys with attempted murder of a settler. The judge, however, rejected the case on the grounds that the evidence from interrogations was insufficient, and in some cases clearly falsified. Interrogators were also found to have manipulated evidence and pressured witnesses, in particular an underage female witness. The judge thus dismissed the charge of attempted murder place on Siyam and al-Bana, but were found guilty of throwing stones and were sentenced to 5 months in prison, and a probation of 3 years.
Silwan youth sentenced to 5 months, after years of Israeli witch hunt « Wadi Hilweh Information Center – Silwan, Jerusalem