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Courting Conflict

The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza

Lisa Hajjar

Publication Year: 2005

Israel's military court system, a centerpiece of Israel's apparatus of control in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967, has prosecuted hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. This authoritative book provides a rare look at an institution that lies both figuratively and literally at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Lisa Hajjar has conducted in-depth interviews with dozens of Israelis and Palestinians—including judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, defendants, and translators—about their experiences and practices to explain how this system functions, and how its functioning has affected the conflict. Her lucid, richly detailed, and theoretically sophisticated study highlights the array of problems and debates that characterize Israel's military courts as it asks how the law is deployed to protect and further the interests of the Israeli state and how it has been used to articulate and defend the rights of Palestinians living under occupation.

Published by: University of California Press

Title Page, Frontispiece, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

...Many individuals and organizations supported me over the years of researching and writing this book. Foremost are the people who permitted me to interview and spend time with them. Although relatively few are mentioned by name in this text, I am grateful to all of them. Research and travel were funded by grants from the American Association of University Women, the Joint Committee on the Near and Middle East of the American Council...

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pp. xv-xxiv

...The weather was bitter cold and rainy on February 3, 1992, when I made my Wrst visit to the Israeli military court in the West Bank town of Hebron. Over the previous six months, I had been to the military courts in Ramallah, Gaza City, and Nablus. That day, I went to Hebron with Lea Tsemel, a Jewish Israeli lawyer who has been...

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pp. 1-20

...The Israeli military court system is the central subject of this book, as well as the main setting for a sociological inquiry into law and conXict in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, an area I refer to collectively as “Israel/ Palestine” (see Chapter 1). This duality, subject and setting, reXects the fact that the military court system is both a product and a site of the Israeli- Palestinian conXict. To describe a court system—or any...


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1. A Political Geography of Law and Conflict

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pp. 23-48

...Law inspires, commands, and narrates social life. It creates or identiWes categories of social being and meaning, marking boundaries to connect and diVerentiate its subjects. It authorizes, prohibits, and in other ways regulates desires and relations and the activities to pursue them. It constitutes a terrain of social action and interaction where individuals and groups operate to deWne, promote, and protect...

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2. Legal Discourses and the Conflict in Israel/Palestine

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pp. 49-76

...The Israeli state has made prodigious use of law to maintain and legitimize its rule over Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and to punish and thwart resistance. Three bodies of law have been particularly important: international humanitarian law (especially the Fourth Geneva Convention), the British Defense (Emergency) Regulations of 1945, and original Israeli military laws. Israeli domestic law...


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3. Going to Court

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pp. 79-95

...The Israeli military courts and the compounds in which they are located exemplify how architecture can provide for control and surveillance. The space itself operates as a technology of power to facilitate or impede visibility and to regulate movement and interactions. The physical design and management of the courts reinforce the disciplinary potential...

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4. The Face and Arms of Military Justice: Judges and Prosecutors

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pp. 96-131

...The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is the longest military occupation in modern times. According to the oYcial Israeli narrative, the military administration, established in 1967 to govern Palestinians in the occupied territories, has exercised its powers legally and acted reasonably and with relative restraint under the circumstances of enduring conXict (see Chapter 2). Indeed, Israel’s use of law, rather...

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5. The Politics of Language: Translators

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pp. 132-153

...Language provides a particularly useful point of reference to analyze social relations and political identiWcations in multiethnic societies where diVerent languages “coexist,” like the groups of people who speak them. In many contexts, language is politicized through a discourse of rights, notably the right to self-determination; the collective “self ” is often deWned, at least in part, linguistically. Hence...

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6. Cause Lawyering and National Conflict: Defense Lawyers

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pp. 154-184

...When rights are the stakes of a conXict, politically engaged lawyers often play important roles. Their professional knowledge of the law, political vision, and commitment are vital resources for articulating rights claims and challenging rights violations. In the course of those struggles, lawyers’ skills can be put to the tasks of defending those who are Wghting for rights and formulating strategies to marshal law to their aid...

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7. Political Subjects, Legal Objects: Defendants

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pp. 185-217

...But according to a widely acknowledged rule of thumb, approximately 50 percent of Palestinians who are arrested are released or administratively detained without charges, and the other 50 percent are charged with crimes and prosecuted. Approximately 813,000 Palestinians were arrested between 1967 and 1993...

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8. A Suq of Deals: Plea Bargaining

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pp. 218-234

...describing my research on the Israeli military court system. What people were asking, in essence, was what possibly could be learned that wasn’t already obvious: that the Israeli state has the power to punish Palestinians and that punishment is what they get. Such skepticism is understandable and, in many ways, is an accurate assessment of...

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Conclusion: The Second Intifada and the Global “War on Terror”

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pp. 235-248

...The dance metaphor is so Wtting because it cuts through the nationalist polemics and polarizations that have been generated by all the suVering, loss, and fear to capture the fact that the conXict in Israel/ Palestine grips everyone, albeit in markedly diVerent ways. Whether a political resolution is possible in the future remains an open question. But the answer has been complicated inexorably by the violence and destruction of the last years...

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pp. 249-252

...On September 19, 2002, I spent my last day in an Israeli military court. I went with Andre Rosenthal, a leftist Jewish Israeli lawyer, to Erez, the court located in a base at the edge of the Gaza Strip. On the drive from Jerusalem to Gaza, we talked about changes in the military court system over the last few years, the political situation in Israel/Palestine, and the trials and tribulation of defense lawyering...

Appendix: The Institutional Structure and Administrative Features of the Military Court System

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pp. 253-258


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pp. 259-300


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pp. 301-312

E-ISBN-13: 9780520937987
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520241930

Page Count: 335
Publication Year: 2005