On last Thursday, 18 July, the Be’er Sheva District Court ordered the release of the four remaining detained demonstrators who were arrested at the anti-Prawer protests held in the city on Monday, 15 July. The decision followed an appeal by Adalah Attorney Aram Mahameed and Mezan (Nazareth) Attorney Saber Abu Jami’ against the Be’er Sheva Magistrate Court’s decision to extend their detention. As a result of another appeal filed by Attorneys Mahameed and Abu Jami’, the Be’er Sheva District Court also released three other detained demonstrators. On the same day, the court also released seven other detained demonstrators, four following an appeal by volunteer Attorney Shahda Ibn Bari, and three following an appeal by Attorney Saher Makawi from the Public Defenders’ Office.
The defense lawyers stated that the atmosphere at the Magistrates’ Court hearing on 16 July, during which the judge decided to extend the detention of the demonstrators, was highly charged. The lawyers reported an atmosphere hostile to the detainees and their families. The families were separated from the lawyers by the police as well as Special Forces officers. The defense lawyers threatened to abandon the hearing, arguing that the presence of the Special Forces officers created a tense environment that placed enormous pressure on the judge and all parties, and could also obstruct further legal proceedings as some of the officers may subsequently be called as witnesses.
Large numbers of the detainees’ family and supporters, as well as activists and journalists were in attendance at all of the related court hearings. Adalah Attorney Aram Mahameed stated, “The morale among the detainees is high, despite the clear signs of police violence on their bodies.”