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Gaza Disengagement Protest Trial on Hold Due to Gaza War

The trial over a 2004 letter warning of the dangers of the Gaza Disengagement was postponed Thursday - due to the prosecutor's emergency army duty.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 1/1/2009, 10:35 PM

The ongoing trial of Nadia Matar over a letter she wrote in 2004, in which she warned of the dangers of the Disengagement from Gaza and Samaria, was unexpectedly postponed Thursday due to the emergency
The Disengagement will lead to "Katyushas and rockets fired from Gaza."
reserve duty of the lead prosecutor in the case. Matar's attorney, Yoram Sheftel, pointed out the irony of the situation.

Matar, the fiery co-chairwoman of the Women in Green movement, was charged under a left-over British Mandatory statute with "insulting a public official" in a letter to Sela Disengagement Authority head Yonatan Bassi prior to the 2005 eviction of Jews from Gaza and Samaria, calling on him to resign. The key passage before the bench from Matar's 2004 letter to Bassi is:

"The truth is that you are a modern version of the Judenrat - actually, a much worse version, because then, during the Holocaust, this was forced upon those Jewish leaders by the Nazis, and it is extremely difficult for us, today, to judge them. Today, no one stands with a gun to your head and forces you to collaborate in the crime, without any conscience pangs."

In her letter, Matar went on to warn of "the bloody price that we will have to pay for our retreat. If the criminal Oslo accords cost us more than 1,000 victims, Sharon's deportation plan will give such a push to the Nazi Arab terror (for the Arabs will see that Israel's folding is proof that terror pays) that I fear to think how many Jews will pay with their lives for Sharon's 'disengagement'." In comments defending the content and tone of her letter at the time, the Women In Green head said that it was justified by the situation, because the Disengagement will lead to "Katyushas and rockets fired from Gaza."

According to Women In Green, Atty. Sheftel had originally intended to open his statement before the Jerusalem Magistrates Court by observing: "The very fact that this trial is still taking place, three years after the expulsion, in the middle of a Gaza War, when everything Nadia wrote in her letter came true, is a proof of the persecution by the government against lovers of the land of Israel."

As it turned out, the call-up of the State's attorney due to the war in Gaza provided an even more ironic twist to Sheftel's response to the court. He said:

"Let it be written in the protocol that Attorney [Erez] Padan has been called up for the reserves as a direct result of the fact that his place of work, the Supreme Court, described the expulsion from Gush Katif, against which my client was protesting and for which she now stands trial, as something positive that will improve the security situation of Israel when today we know that it is that expulsion that brought upon us Katyushas in Be'er Sheva, Ashdod and Yavne. That is why Attorney Padan has been called up for reserves and my client is sitting on the bench of the accused."

The case was initially heard by Jerusalem Magistrates Court Judge David Mintz, who dismissed the indictment against Matar in September 2006. Judge Mintz ruled that the law had been applied selectively after hearing examples of incendiary statements by left-wing activists and politicians who were not prosecuted. However, the State appealed the decision and succeeded in having the case returned to the lower court, with the stipulation that the prosecution be allowed to counter the assertion that speech laws have been applied selectively.

So, the case is back before Judge Mintz. The trial is slated to resume on Thursday, February 19.