After a video of Ahed confronting Israeli soldiers outside her house went viral, she was arrested in the middle of the night. Overnight, she became a hero for young women throughout the world. Israel wants her case to be forgotten so they have closed her trial to the public. No media, no diplomats, no human rights observers.
Help us call on the US State Department to demand that Ahed’s trial be opened, and that they send a US official to monitor the trial.
Dear US State Department,
It is horrible that Israel has closed the courtroom for the military trial of 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi. They are trying to hide from the international community while they try a child in a military court with an over 99% conviction rate.
Seventeen-year-old Ahed Tamimi is facing up to 10 years in prison. Each year, Israel arrests and prosecutes around 700 Palestinian children in military court. Israel’s abuse of Palestinian children must stop.
We ask you to demand that Israel open the courtroom and that you send a representative of the US government to be present throughout Ahed Tamimi’s trial.
Billboard in Bridgeport, CT draws comparisons between apartheid in Israel and the former apartheid regime in South Africa. (Photo: Palestine Advocacy Project)
Palestine Advocacy Project’s latest billboard ad campaign intends to raise awareness about Ahed Tamimi, the 17-year-old Palestinian activist who now faces up to 10 years in Israel’s military prison over an altercation with Israeli soldiers. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for Ahed’s immediate release.
On December 19 at 3AM, the Israeli military raided and ransacked Ahed’s home, arresting her along with her mother and cousin, and charged Ahed with 12 criminal counts, including assault and incitement.
During a protest, Ahed’s 14-year-old cousin was shot in the head at close range by an Israeli soldier. Israeli soldiers then invaded the Tamimi family’s home and threatened the entire family.
Ahed demanded the soldiers leave . After they refused, the unarmed Ahed slapped one of the heavily armed soldiers. It is clear from a video that later went viral, Ahed posed no actual threat to these soldiers.
The first billboard compares the apartheid regime in Israel with the former apartheid regime in South Africa. The text strikes through the name of Nelson Mandela and instead proposes Ahed Tamimi just below. Both Nelson Mandela (imprisoned for 27 years by South Africa’s apartheid government) and Ahed symbolize courageous resistance to a repressive government and apartheid systems. Ahed, who spent her 17th birthday in military prison, was arrested without charge and can be held up to 6 month with no due process rights, like so many other Palestinians. When she does go to trial, she will be in a court that has a 99.74% percent conviction rate for Palestinians. Israel’s settlers operate with virtual impunity in the Occupied West Bank.
Mona Abdo an activist with the Palestine Advocacy Project said, “Like Nelson Mandela for South Africa during apartheid, Ahed Tamimi has become a symbol of Palestine’s 50 years of resistance to Israeli’s brutal occupation and apartheid system. The world called for the release of Nelson Mandela then, and now we must call for the release of Ahed Tamimi and the 350 other child prisoners held in Israel’s military prisons.”
The second billboard picks up the focus on freeing the child prisoners in Israeli military prisons. According to Defense for Children International-Palestine, “Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes an estimated 500 to 700 children each year in military courts lacking fundamental fair trial rights”. Additionally, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that ill treatment in the Israeli military detention system remains “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized throughout the process.”
Billboard in Stratford, CT focuses on child prisoners in Israeli military prisons. (Photo: Palestine Advocacy Project)
Tomorrow, 31 January, Ahed Tamimi, the imprisoned Palestinian teen, is turning 17. Unfortunately, due to the Israeli settler colonial occupation, she will be marking her birthday behind bars in HaSharon prison awaiting a military court hearing, forcibly separated from her mother (also imprisoned) and the rest of her family.
These days are international days of action to support Ahed. You can be a part of wishing Ahed a happy birthday and sending her greetings of solidarity and freedom!
Ahed is one of over 350 imprisoned Palestinian children and over 6,100 Palestinian prisoners in total. These actions not only demand freedom for Ahed but for all of the Palestinians subject to imprisonment, occupation, apartheid and colonialism.
Join us to take action in your own city, town or campus!
Join one of the many worldwide actions for Ahed Tamimi in the coming days! Add your event to the list by messaging them to us on Facebook or sending us an e-mail.
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.
These proceedings reveal the disgrace of Israel’s military regime as a whole, and of its military courts in particular. In this system, the judges and prosecutors are always military personnel, the defendants are always Palestinian, and the conviction rate is almost 100%. This so-called justice system is one of the most offensive mechanisms employed under Israel’s occupation regime. Its goal is not to serve truth and justice, but to preserve Israel’s control over the Palestinian people. This is true of the Tamimi family – and of thousands of others.
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 Postarticle 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.
The other quote, which Caspit does not refer to at all in his ‘clarification’, is this, as I had written:
“There is no stomach which does not turn when witnessing this clip”, Caspit says, referring to Zionist stomachs, that is. “I, for example, if I were to encounter that situation, I would have long ago been in detention until end of procedures”. In other words, Caspit is saying he would run amok on the girls to a degree that would get him arrested. That’s what he’s indirectly suggesting would be ‘normal’, because he would do it…
You see, Caspit’s unspecified suggestion for a “price” to be “exacted”, is conditioned by his incitement mentioned here. We don’t know the details of the actions which Caspit imagines would get him arrested. And do we even want to know them? If Caspit suggests he would do those unspeakable actions in the daytime, even if there were cameras filming – what are we to think of the things he, or the others influenced by his suggestions, might do in the dark?
Caspit seeks to portray himself as a ‘man of peace’, who couldn’t possibly suggest that such insidious things be done to Palestinian girls:
OFER PRISON, West Bank (Reuters) – Israel indicted a 16-year-old Palestinian girl on Monday on charges including assault for punching an Israeli soldier in the face two weeks ago, an incident which made her into a hero for Palestinians and was seen as humiliating by right-wing Israelis.
Israel has held Ahed Tamimi since arresting her three days after she was filmed punching the soldier at the entrance to her family home in a village in the occupied West Bank. The confrontation took place after what Israel says was a stone-throwing assault on its troops.
The case has made her into such a potent symbol for Palestinians that a commentator in Israeli left-wing newspaper Haaretz said Israel risked turning her into the “Palestinian Joan of Arc”.
Right-wing Israelis, meanwhile, have debated whether the soldier had appeared weak by opting not to strike back. The Israeli army said he “acted professionally” by showing restraint.
The charge sheet against Tamimi, seen by Reuters, included counts of aggravated assault against a soldier, who the army said was bruised on his brow by her punch, obstructing a soldier in the performance of his duty and throwing stones at troops.
“Tamimi threw stones at them (the soldiers), threatened them, obstructed them in fulfilling their duty, took part in riots and incited others to take part in them,” the military said on its public affairs Twitter account.
Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, which advocates on behalf of Palestinians in Israeli jails, said the charges were false.
”Their aim is to terrorize people, and they are trying to deter children and others,” he said.
Tamimi’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky, said she was certain some of the charges would eventually be dismissed, but nonetheless prosecutors may seek the maximum penalty for other counts.
“I am sure they want to keep her as long as possible because they don’t want the voice of resistance outside prison,” Lasky told Reuters at the military courtroom in Ofer prison near the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
Tamimi was not asked to enter a plea at this stage. The military court gave her lawyer more time to study the charges.
An adult found guilty of assaulting a soldier could be jailed for up to 10 years, but such an outcome would be unlikely for Tamimi as a minor.
The incident occurred at the entrance to Tamimi’s family home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, where weekly protests against Israeli settlement policy have been held for years. Tamimi’s father is a prominent Palestinian activist.
Tamimi made news two years ago when she was pictured biting a soldier who tried to arrest her younger brother. In 2012 she was presented with an award in Turkey and met its president, Tayyip Erdogan, after images of her confronting an Israeli soldier went viral.
Reporting by Ali Sawafta, Maayan Lubell and Nidal al-Mughrabi; Writing by Maayan Lubell; Edtitng by Peter Graff