Ben Uliel in court
Ben Uliel in courtHonenu

District Court Judge Ido Dorian Gamliel in exceptional fashion deleted a petition filed by inmate Amiram Ben-Uliel, accused in the Duma case, against Israel Prison Service intention to transfer him to a prison in the south of the country.

Judge Dorian Gamliel deleted the petition after Ben Uliel was instructed to state before him that the petition was true. Ben Uliel stood and stated the declaration with his eyes closed.

In most cases, Israeli court stenographers do not transcribe every word spoken at a proceeding into the protocol. Rather, the judge dictates to the stenographer such portions of the sides' testimony as he sees fit to encapsulate it, adding his own remarks and rulings.

Ben Uliel's wife related that the judge did not record the proceeding into the protocol as it happened during the hearing. Ben Uliel's wife, Orian, described the discourse at the hearing: "At the request of Judge Amiram stood up, Amiram stood with his hand on his eyes and declared. The judge asked him to lower his hand and look at him. Amiram explained to the judge that he could not as there were women in the court. The judge insisted so Amiram lowered his hand and stated it with his eyes closed. The judge continued to insist and told Amiram that he did not respect the court," she described.

Orian went on to say, "Amiram explained to him that it was his faith, and that he should not view it as a disrespectful gesture. Amiram also told him that it was he, the judge, who did not respect his religion and his beliefs that oblige him to guard his eyes. This didn't satisfy the judge either and he continued to insist and then he handed his decision.

"The judge didn't discuss my husband's petition regarding his rights, just for one reason: Because my husband upheld his beliefs. The judge trampled his rights and beliefs, and it's just a shame that this is happening in the State of Israel," the wife said.

Attorney Hai Bar, who represented Ben Uliel on behalf of the Honenu legal aid organization, said: "Although I do not agree at all, on the legal level, with the decision of the Court, and although the expectation is that there be a disconnect between the legal issue and a person's behavior, I can understand and respect the will of the judge to express resentment for anything that could be interpreted as exclusion of women and/or any other population."

He continues: "Despite this, all that my client asked was that he be allowed to uphold his own religious outlook and views. The petitioner didn't ask for women to be removed from the court or not be present, but sought to close his eyes so he himself would not falter in what is forbidden to him, according to his worldview.

"Since the population of Israel is diverse and among us, for example, there are also women who cover their entire bodies except the eyes, why were they never asked to show their faces in court? In conclusion, as long as my client didn't ask for anything about others and as long as it was a matter of his own belief, it should have been respected, even if this raises some difficulty."