"The Law in These Parts" – about Israel's military justice system – today at Sundance Film Festival

This extraordinarily powerful film, showing Israeli military court judges at work in the northern West Bank of Nablus during the first Palestinian intifada [circa 1988 + 1989] — and today, now in their retirement years, perhaps on Israel’s comfortable coastal plain, reflecting on what they did and how they did it — is being screened today in the Sundance Film Festival, Sundance, Colorado.

The film shed light on the dynamics of “a system of long-term jurisdiction by an occupying army that is unique in the entire world”, as one of the film’s websites says here.

The website adds that the film attempts to show how Israeli military court judges faced “complex judicial and moral dilemmas in order to develop and uphold a system of long-term military ‘rule by law’ of an occupied population, all under the supervision of Israel’s Supreme Court, and, according to Israel, in complete accordance with international law”…

At more than one point in the part of the film that I saw, Israeli former judges in the military court system were asked if they were aware that the confessions made by Palestinians, upon which they were convicted and sentenced, were extracted after torture. The reactions of the former military court judges are truly difficult to watch…

Our earlier post on this new film, which we published in July 2011, can be read here. Now, as the film is being screened at Sundance and elssewhere, the shorter version has been removed from Youtube, and listed as private, with permission needed to access. [A longer, 23-minute first cut was removed from the Vimeo site the day our post was published last July, as we noted in our blot post that day…]

The Law in These Parts was screened last week by the Educational Bookshop and the French Cultural Center on Salah ad-Din Street in East Jerusalem.

The showings at the Sundance Film Festival — or in Haifa, West Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv — are listed on the film’s website here.

What is the Occupation (cont'd): Israeli Military Justice System in the West Bank – UPDATED

This is a rough cut of a film, entitled The Law in These Parts, apparently made by Israeli director Ra’anan Alexandrowicz [correcting our earlier report identifying Ohad Nave as the filmmaker, with this new information posted by Joseph Dana on Monday].

This film is expected to be released later in the year, according to a Tweet on Sunday from @ibnezra (Joseph Dana).

UPDATE: In his later report posted on +972 Magazine, here Dana quoted from what he said was a press release for the film, which states: “Since Israel conquered the territories in the 1967 War, the Israeli Defense Forces legal corps have created and implemented thousands of military orders and laws, established military courts, sentenced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. This complex system which is invisible to most Israelis is very present in Palestinian daily life and is unique in the entire world”.

What’s shown here is video footage of one of the Israeli military judges, working in Nablus in 1989 (during the first Palestinian Intifada), and today — interviewed (as are several other judges shown here, separately) about whether he knew how the information was obtained in the confessions he was given to convict Palestinians (by their own testimony, under pressure if not full torture, without legal assistance).

It is very difficult to watch — though there is no graphic physical violence shown in this footage — and it is painfully, exquisitely revealing of human emotions:

It was first posted on Vimeo [in a version over 23 minutes long], then removed on Monday.

UPDATE on 25 January 2012: Now that the film is being screened at the Sundance Film Festival in Colorado, and elsewhere, it has now been removed from public view on Youtube as well — and is low listed as “Private”, with permission needed for access…

A shortened version [just over 12 minutes long] is now posted on Youtube, here:

UPDATE: It’s strange that this video has been removed from the Vimeo site, which identified Ohad Nave as filmmaker, and in its place is only a message reading: “Sorry, “The Law In These Parts” was deleted at 11:13:43 Mon Jul 18, 2011. We have no more information about it on our mainframe or elsewhere”.

This is a version of the text that was produced automatically by the Vimeo site: The Law In These Parts, a rough cut of a film from Ohad Nave posted on Vimeo.

The Israeli military justice system continues to operate in the West Bank, occupied Palestinian territory Those accused (only Palestinians) have far fewer rights than in Israeli courts inside “Israel proper”. Some 1 million Palestinians are estimated to have passed through the Israeli military justice system in the West Bank. Between 6-7,000 are in Israeli jails detention centers now, including 220 in “Administrative Detention” — in which security services present their evidence in secret, and even those accused do not know what this evidence is, so they have no way to refute it. Israeli military judges almost always accept these secret dossiers, and hand down the security-requested detention orders, which are renewable (generally, according to Al-Haq, from six months to six years). There are also between 2-300 children in Israeli jails or detention centers.

Many of those Palestinians convicted under the Israeli military justice system are transferred to jails or detention centers inside “Israel proper” (meaning outside the West Bank or Gaza) — though this is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, the Israeli Supreme Court has approved the practice. Moving the prisoners or detainees into Israel makes it difficult if not impossible for family visits.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has recently gone public (at the end of June) with a complaint, which we wrote about here, that families from Gaza have been prohibited from entering Israel to visit their detained relatives and loved ones since mid-June 2007 (following the Hamas rout of Fatah/Palestinian Preventive Security Services).