Ahed and Nariman Tamimi remanded in custody as military prosecution requested

‘Ahed Tamimi in court today. Photo by Oren Ziv, Activestills, 17 January 2018
Ahed Tamimi in court 17 January 2018 (Oren Ziv, Activestills)

B’Tselem, 17 January 2018

Remand in custody – even of minors – is part of the routine of oppression that Israel employs against Palestinians, with the full backing of the military courts, a system in which both judges and prosecutors are always military personnel, the defendants always Palestinian, and the conviction rate almost 100%.

Today (Wednesday, 17 Jan. 2018), a military judge approved the prosecution’s request to remand ‘Ahed and Nariman Tamimi in custody. The hearing, which was held at Ofer Military Court, is a prime example – one of many thousands – of how rather than serving justice, Israel’s military court system is a major tool of oppression serving Israel’s control over Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

Both ‘Ahed Tamimi (16) and her mother Nariman (42) have been in custody since 19 December 2017, after ‘Ahed was taken from her home in the middle of the night, and her mother was arrested when she came to find out what was happening with her daughter later that day. All the military prosecution’s requests to extend their detention have been approved by the military judges. Meanwhile, the prosecution has built up inflated case files against both mother and daughter, including a litany of charges that go back as far as April 2016 – conveniently ignoring the fact that until now, the authorities have seen no need to arrest the alleged suspects or call them in for questioning.

The high-profile arrest of the two has elicited extreme responses from top members of government in Israel, ranging from a demand to let them spend the rest of their lives in prison to an announcement that their relatives’ permits to enter Israel would be revoked. These reactions stem partly from the fact that the Tamimi family has long since become a symbol of unarmed Palestinian resistance to the occupation. To defeat this family, Israel is resorting to a variety of tools it has developed and used for more than fifty years against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, as part of its attempts to sustain the occupation regime.

The key measures that Israel is using against ‘Ahed and Nariman Tamimi are familiar – to varying degrees – from thousands of other legal cases that Israel has taken up against Palestinian defendants: Violent arrest in the middle of the night, slapdash indictments and prolonged detention that today became remand in custody for the duration of the proceedings. The fact that these measures are being used against a minor magnifies the violation of human rights that is already par for the course in Israel’s treatment of hundreds of Palestinian minors: According to statistics provided to B’Tselem by the Israel Prison Service, as of 30 November 2017, 181 Palestinian minors were being held in custody for the duration of legal proceedings in their cases.

Remand for the duration of the proceedings means that a person continues to be held in custody after the investigation has been concluded and an indictment filed, until all legal proceedings, including judgment and sentencing are over. During this time, the detainee is not serving a prison sentence and is supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. As such, remand should be the exception to the rule, but in the military courts in the West Bank, the prosecution regularly asks the military judges to approve remand, and the latter almost always comply. This practice serves as an incentive for defendants to plead guilty to the charges against them and to sign plea bargains – regardless of whether they actually committed the offense and the evidence against them. If they choose to go to trial while in custody, they may end up spending more time behind bars than they would be sentenced to in a plea bargain.

The upshot of all this is that the military prosecution is almost never required to go to trial, where it would have to prove the defendant’s guilt. Consequently, the judges’ decision to approve remand is tantamount to a conviction – as the case is decided once the person is remanded, rather than based on the evidence. Pretrial approval of remand in custody of people who have not yet been convicted, as standard practice, effectively empties the judicial process of meaning.

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Iyad Burnat’s Palestinian Center for Non-Violent Action


Iyad Burnat interview by the Jersey Palestine Solidarity Campaign (JPSC)

 

Dear Friends,

Many of you know Palestinian activist Iyad Burnat, co-founder and President of the grassroots organization, Friends of Freedom and Justice (FFJ) in the West Bank village of Bil’in. Iyad and Bil’in’s heartfelt brand of peaceful resistance were the subject of the 2011 Academy Award-Nominated Documentary “5 Broken Cameras” and have continued to reach more people through the speaking tours of Iyad and his fellow villagers around the world and the visits of people from around the world to Bil’in. Like other West Bank villages, towns and cities, Bil’in is under siege by the Israeli military occupation with its continuous land seizures, and Iyad has been actively working to develop a model of non-violent resistance to the Occupation since 2005, when a nearby Israeli settlement expanded into Bil’in’s fields.

FFJ is now working to establish a “Palestinian Center for Non-Violent Action” (https://www.ffj-bilin.com/); a place where people from all over the West Bank and the world can come to learn the theory and practice of non-violent social change. The Center will include a museum, library, classrooms, learning and play spaces for children, spaces for arts and crafts, a visitor’s center, and guest rooms for visiting instructors and activists from around the world.

FFJ has made an initial down payment of $14,000 for the land on which to build the Center, but recent developments have delayed FFJ’s efforts to raise the remaining $30,000 needed by February to secure the property. Like other activists in the Palestinian peaceful resistance, Iyad and his family have come increasingly attack through harassment, threats, arrests and shootings. His eldest son, Majd, recently underwent surgery for injuries suffered from a shooting by Israeli forces, which caused extensive nerve damage to his leg, rendering him unable to walk unaided. His middle son, Abdul Khaliq, was recently shot, imprisoned, and is now awaiting trial. His youngest son, Mohammed, witnessed the arrest. The fate of the Center is hanging in the balance.

The purchase of this land and construction of Center are a positive answer to the systemic and brutal violence to which Palestinians are subjected to on a daily basis. Iyad, Bil’in and all Palestinians seeking to resist occupation nonviolently need our support.

Please donate to make the Palestinian Center for Non-Violent Action a reality. Together let us help make Bil’in a beacon of peaceful social responses to oppression for Palestine and the world.

Sincerely,
Friends of Freedom and Justice
https://www.ffj-bilin.com/

The Last Palestinian Kaffiyeh Maker

Al Hirbawi, supplier to the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

The kaffiyeh is a traditional Arab headdress and a symbol of the Palestinian struggle. Today, it continues to represent an important part of Palestinian heritage. Unfortunately, the Al Hirbawi factory is the last remaining institution in the Palestinian territories producing the original kaffiyeh. Brothers Jouda, Abdelazim and Ezzat have been working in the factory since they were kids, inheriting the family business and continuing the proud legacy.

Trump makes a one-state solution more likely

Supporters of Israel hate it when people use the word “apartheid” to describe the country, but we don’t have another term for a political system in which one ethnic group rules over another, confining it to small islands of territory and denying it full political representation.

Palestinians protesting the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images)
 
Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times, January 9, 2018

Last month, Donald Trump announced that the United States would move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, infuriating the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Despite what some feared, the move didn’t spark widespread unrest in Muslim countries.

While the world rejected the new policy — the United Nations General Assembly voted 128 to 9 to condemn it — Arab states seemed to tacitly accept it. As The New York Times reported last week, an Egyptian intelligence officer even called influential talk-show hosts urging them to steer their audiences away from anti-Israel outrage.

For some conservatives in the United States, the apathetic Arab response proves that Trump was right. The Daily Caller gloated about Trump’s refusal to allow “Palestinian threats of violence” to sway the United States. In National Review, Douglas Murray wrote that the “U.S. has stared down the men of violence and — for the time being at least — come out from the encounter on top.”

This argument misses the main reason to oppose the Jerusalem announcement, apart from the continued suffering of the Palestinians, which few in American politics particularly care about. Trump’s decision wasn’t disastrous because it risked causing riots but because, long-term, it endangers whatever thin chance remains of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And the alternative to a two-state solution is one state, a greater Israel that includes the occupied territories. That state can be Jewish or it can be democratic, but it cannot be both. Trump’s embassy decision was thus another nail in the coffin of liberal Zionism.

When the administration initially announced plans to move the embassy, it claimed it was not prejudging the status of Jerusalem in a final peace deal. But Palestinians and Israelis alike understood Trump to be giving the Israeli government carte blanche to continue claiming Palestinian territory.

Not long after Trump’s announcement, the central committee of the ruling Likud Party passed a resolution calling for the de facto annexation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The Knesset passed an amendment requiring a supermajority to give up Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem, making a peace deal with the Palestinians even more elusive.

Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s central council, told me that before Trump’s decision, “there was a frozen peace process,” but many people believed it could be restarted. “Mr. Trump killed the potential,” he said.

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Israel Publishes BDS Blacklist:
20 Groups Will Be Denied Entry

Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry had for months refused to divulge the list

    Blacklisted American organizations:
    ■ American Friends Service Committee
    ■ American Muslims for Palestine
    ■ CodePINK
    ■ Jewish Voice for Peace
    ■ National Students for Justice in Palestine
    ■ US Campaign for Palestinian Rights

US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) Executive Director Yousef Munayyer said, “We wear this designation as a badge of honor. When Israel, which aims to portray itself to the world as liberal and democratic, blacklists activists dedicated to nonviolent organizing and dissent, it only further exposes itself as a fraud.

Join CodePINK in calling on Senators Chuck Schumer and Ben Cardin to denounce this outrageous ban and tell Israel to lift it immediately. These senators should stand up for the right of US citizens to criticize repressive Israeli policies, especially since Israel gets over $3 billion of our tax dollars every year.

A pro-Palestinian BDS protest in Paris, France August 13, 2015A pro-Palestinian BDS protest in Paris, France August 13, 2015 (AFP)

Noa Landau, Haaretz, Jan 07, 2018

Gaza’s health system close to collapse as electricity crisis threatens total blackout

World Health Organization warns hospitals could be plunged into darkness by end of February without fresh funding to keep emergency generators running

Babies born prematurely are crammed into an incubator at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, where experts say ‘dangerous overcrowding’ has become commonplaceBabies born prematurely are crammed into an incubator at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, where experts say ‘dangerous overcrowding’ has become commonplace. (Sarah Helm for the Observer)

Rebecca Ratcliffe, The Guardian, 3 Jan 2018

Hospitals in Gaza will face an almost total power blackout by the end of February unless funding is secured to keep emergency generators running, the World Health Organization has warned.

An ongoing electricity crisis in Gaza has left hospitals reliant on emergency generators for up to 20 hours a day, while medical staff have been forced to cut back on basic services such as equipment sterilisation and diagnostics. About 500,000 litres of fuel are required each month to sustain critical care in Gaza, but funding will only cover hospitals’ needs until the end of February.

Dr Mahmoud Daher, head of the WHO’s Gaza sub-office, said the health system is on “the edge of collapse”. Without urgent fundraising, hospitals will face a disastrous situation, he said. “There are at least 200 babies and people in intensive care units. It would be a really fatal situation for them. There are dozens of people who are going to surgical operations that would be affected.”

Fears over the humanitarian situation intensified following a series of tweets by Donald Trump on Tuesday, in which he threatened to cut funding for the Palestinian Authority unless it recommences peace talks. The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, earlier said the US would cut funds to UNRWA, the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, unless the authority went back to the negotiating table.

Dr Andy Ferguson, director of programmes for Medical Aid for Palestinians (Map), an organisation that works with hospitals and other healthcare providers across Gaza and the West Bank, said electricity outages in Gaza, combined with medical shortages and severe restrictions on freedom of movement, were creating a medical emergency.

Difficulties with sterilising equipment have caused a rise in hospital infections, he added, while power fluctuations have damaged sensitive medical equipment.

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Israeli journalist who called for unspeakable acts against Ahed Tamimi tries, and fails, to backpedal


Ben Caspit, from his twitter feed

Jonathan Ofir, Mondoweiss, December 26, 2017

Prominent Israeli journalist Ben Caspit caused international furor last week, when he wrote in his Maariv article that “in the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras”.

Caspit has certainly felt the heat in response to his insidious suggestions, and probably began fearing not only for his reputation, but possibly for his job, which besides Maariv also includes the respected Al-Monitor. Israeli activist Ofer Neiman tweeted: “He can’t have it both ways – writing for a liberal peace-oriented outlet and inciting rape/murder/violence.”

Caspit’s article was in Hebrew, but now he is trying to backpedal and ‘clarify’ in English – in a Jerusalem Post article from yesterday.

Caspit titles his piece “Fighting a shaming campaign with the truth”, framing himself as a victim who has simply been misunderstood. He describes his ‘ordeal’:

“Within hours you discover that you’ve turned into Public Enemy No. 1, a modern day pariah; a man who calls for the rape of young girls and destruction of families; a contemporary Nazi. A rare combination of circumstances, a phrase taken out of context, an inaccurate translation and a great deal of evil intention have planted in your keyboard things you never said, and in your brain, things you never thought. All that is left it to chase after the eternal wind in the cyber willows.”

I am proud to say I am one of those who have publicly and critically referred to his first article, though not the first. The critical and most egregious sentence mentioned above had appeared in mainstream media a day later – for example AP and CBS. The translation was accurate and furthermore, in my article, I provided a greater context than was available otherwise, precisely in order to relate to Caspit’s greater message of incitement, and how that phrase played into it.

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