Revenue raising under occupation
[14 February 2019] - Israeli military courts are fining Palestinians in the West Bank nearly USD $6 million each year, according to information provided under a Freedom of Information (FOI) application (2015-2017). This represents an increase in fines of nearly 42% compared with 2011.
According to the FOI application in 2017 there were 10,454 indictments in the military courts with fines totaling USD $5.6 million, or an average fine of USD $535 per case (NIS 2,000). The Palestinian Authority’s monthly minimum wage is USD $396 (NIS 1,450), although many earn less.
In 2017 the indictments included: traffic offences (56% of cases); hostile terrorist activity (20% of cases) (mostly carrying weapons and belonging to banned organizations); disturbing the peace (10% of cases) (mostly throwing stones); and staying in Israel illegally (10% of cases). There were also 10 indictments for intentional killing, representing 0.096% of cases.
These figures would suggest that the military courts are raising well over USD $3 million fining Palestinians for traffic offences committed in Area C, while at the same time failing to provide any legal aid in the military courts for security offences. Once levied, these fines are deposited in the Israeli Civil Administration’s accounts in the West Bank and are managed by an officer subordinate to Israel’s Finance Ministry.
So far in 2018, MCW’s evidence indicates that children are currently being fined an average of USD $600 (NIS 2,200) in the military courts - with a minimum fine of USD $136 (NIS 500) and a maximum of USD $1,640 (NIS 6,000). Generally, in cases where children are released on bail, the amount of bail will ultimately be forfeited and converted to a fine in a subsequent plea bargain.
For families who cannot pay the fines, each USD $273 (NIS 1,000) unpaid results in the child spending an extra month in prison.