The Israeli authorities released last Sunday the Jerusalemite pretzel seller Zaki Sabbah 54, after arresting him for 20 days under the pretext of working without a permit.
The Local Affairs court lately sentenced Sabbah for 10 years of actual imprisonment in absentia for not paying the fees the municipality imposed on him for selling pretzels in Jaffa gate in Jerusalem.
Sabbah told Wadi Hilweh Information Center: “I was surprised to be released from “Rimon” prison last Sunday after I was sentenced to 10 years of actual imprisonment, perhaps this is due to the media pressure after I was arrested and sentenced.”
Sabbah, who is from the village of Esawyeh, added: “I was arrested 20 days ago while I was in Jaffa gate. The policemen attacked me and took me to Al-Qishleh police station and then to Al-Maskobyeh and then onto “Rimon” prison. I managed to call my lawyer and the family three days after my arrest.”
Zaki Sabbah pointed out that he was arrested in 2003 for one year under the pretext of selling pretzels without a permit, and after being released he submitted an application to the municipality to obtain a permit that allows him to freely sell pretzels in Jaffa gate and without bring harassed by the police. Lately, Sabbah went to check on his application, and the employee at the desk told him that his application was lost and that he has to submit another application to obtain a permit.
Sabbah pointed out that high fines and taxes were imposed on him in the past few years to force him to leave the area of Jaffa gate. The police used to issue him three tickets everyday, where each ticket was 475 NIS and kept adding up until the total was 1.2 million NIS.
Sabbah said that the Local Affairs court opened 254 files against the pretzel seller since 2005, which included fines from the municipality for selling pretzels without a permit, and there were lots of legal discussions and deliberations lately without him knowing about it and in his absence until he was sentenced to 10 years of actual imprisonment.
After hiring a lawyer three days after he was arrested, the municipality suggested releasing him if he pays 10% of the total amount which was 80 thousand NIS, but the judge ordered to release him if he pays 8 thousand NIS a month until he pays the accumulated debt, but Sabbah refused and insisted that he cannot pay this amount every month noting that he does not have any other source of income.