Israel jails Palestinian lawyer over shootings

The army accused Barghout of firing at Israeli buses. — Reuters pic
The army accused Barghout of firing at Israeli buses. — Reuters pic

RAMALLAH, July 30 — An Israeli military court jailed a prominent Palestinian lawyer for 13 and a half years today for shooting at Israeli vehicles in the occupied West Bank, the army said.

Tareq Barghout, a Ramallah-based lawyer who represented Palestinians accused by Israel of security-related offences, was himself arrested in February, along with Palestinian Authority official Zakaria Zubeidi.

The army said in a statement that Barghout was convicted as part of a plea bargain.

“Barghout fired at Israeli buses and at security forces on a number of occasions,” it said.   

Zubeidi, a former head of a militant group who later became an official of the PA commission for Palestinians in Israeli jails, is still awaiting trial.

Both men were charged in May with carrying out shooting attacks in the Ramallah area between November 2016 and January 2019, in which three Israelis were slightly injured.

According to Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency the pair used Zubeidi’s official PA vehicle for transport. 

Israeli lawyer Leah Tsemel, representing Barghout, said that he alone fired the shots.

“He said in his statement that he opened fire after feeling that Palestinians were being treated very unjustly by Israeli courts,” she told AFP.

She said that he was also distressed by having to accompany bereaved Palestinians to receive from Israeli authorities the bodies of loved ones killed in conflict with Israeli forces.  

“Once, Barghout fired from a distance at a settlers’ bus to make them understand that they can never feel secure in the occupied territories,” Tsemel said.  

Excluding annexed east Jerusalem, more than 400,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank alongside more than 2.5 million Palestinians.

International law considers the settlements to be illegal and a barrier to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

They are built on land Israel seized in the Six-Day War of 1967, which the Palestinians claim as part of their future state. — AFP

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