Tamimi detention decision delayed by military court

Tamimi detention decision delayed by military court
The 16-year-old will remain in custody until her next court date, a judge ruled on Monday.
5 min read
15 January, 2018
Ahed Tamimi, 16, being brought into court on Monday [Anadolu]

A military judge has postponed a decision on whether to remand 16-year-old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi to custody until the end of her trial or release her on bail.

The judge heard arguments from prosecution and defence lawyers during a hearing at Ofer military court on Monday, when her mother Nariman Tamimi was also ordered to remain in prison until they are both back in court on Wednesday.

"The prosecution asked the court to keep Ahed in detention until the end of the trial. They say Ahed was dangerous because she has been resisting the occupation in different ways for several years," Ahed's lawyer, Gabi Lasky, told journalists at Ofer.

"There is a complete difference between the law that applies to settlers living in the occupied territories than to Palestinians living there. The difference is so harsh, that even grown-ups that have done things that are more brutal than [those] Ahed is accused of are released and are not kept in detention till the end of their trial."

The teenager's lawyer will file an appeal should the judge decide to remand her to custody.

"We brought up the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and I think it has been infringed here in Ahed's case on several occasions," Lasky said.

Ahed Tamimi was arrested last month and faces up to ten years in prison after a video was released of her slapping and kicking an Israeli soldier who was stationed in the front yard of her home in Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah. Clashes had broken out near the village between Israeli forces and local youths.

Shortly before the video was filmed, Ahed's cousin, 15-year-old Mohammed Tamimi, had been shot in the face by Israeli forces at close range during protests. A rubber-coated metal bullet was lodged in his skull and he later had to undergo surgery requiring its partial removal. 

Because of that humiliation, she was arrested and all this evidence suddenly came out

Ahed now faces 12 different charges pertaining to five different incidents. Charges related to the video are assaulting a soldier, disrupting the work of a soldier and incitement. Other charges refer to incidents that happened up to two years ago, including stone-throwing.

Lasky said it was important to point out that evidence for these was collected after Ahed's arrest, "after people thought that she had humiliated the nation".

"Because of that humiliation, she was arrested and all this evidence suddenly came out," the lawyer said.

Her mother, Nariman Tamimi, is accused of incitement for live-streaming the incident on Facebook.

Ahed Tamimi facing off against an Israeli soldier
during a previous protest [Archive Getty]

Ahed was arrested three days after the video was filmed, on December 19, during a night raid on her home.

Her mother and her cousin Nour, who also appears in the video, were later arrested. Nour was released on bail after two weeks in detention.

According to human rights group B'Tselem, the military prosecution routinely asks defendants be remanded to custody until the end of proceedings, and the court grants the vast majority of the motions. This makes for one of the most problematic practices of Israeli military courts by prejudging the outcome and leading in most cases to plea bargains, B'Tselem says.

"We don't trust the legal system, it's a component of the occupation. For that reason, there was no decision today," Basem Tamimi, Ahed's father, told The New Arab. "We will continue our fight inside and outside the court because we feel it's not a real court."

Palestinians in the West Bank live under military law, while Israeli settlers who live in the same territory are governed by Israeli civil law and tried in civilian courts. Israeli military courts have a 99.7 percent conviction rate, according to data obtained by Israeli daily Haaretz in 2011.

By contrast, only three percent of investigations into crimes committed by Israeli civilians against Palestinians in the West Bank end in a conviction, according to NGO Yesh Din.

Ahed is one of approximately 500 to 700 Palestinian minors who are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system each year, mostly on charges of stone-throwing, according to Defense for Children International-Palestine.

Prisoners' rights group Addameer says there are currently 350 children in Israeli military detention.

In capturing an unarmed teenage girl's assault on two armed soldiers wearing protective gear, the footage of this incident shows that she posed no actual threat and that her punishment is blatantly disproportionate

Ahed Tamimi's arrest triggered an international campaign for her release and an outpouring of solidarity with the Tamimi family and Palestinian children in detention.

"In capturing an unarmed teenage girl's assault on two armed soldiers wearing protective gear, the footage of this incident shows that she posed no actual threat and that her punishment is blatantly disproportionate," said Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, which called for her immediate release.

The European Union and EU Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a joint statement on Friday to express concern at Ahed's continued detention, noting "the importance of respecting and protecting the rights of the child, including and in particular during arrest, detention and judicial procedures".

The EU also called on Israel to "respond proportionately to protests, and open investigations following fatalities, in particular when involving a minor".

Three teenagers have been killed by Israeli forces during protests so far this year.

Basem, Ahed's father, who has led protests against the confiscation of Nabi Saleh's lands and a nearby spring to benefit the settlement of Halamish since 2009, is worried that Israel will want to make his daughter into an example.

"They want to scare and break the next generation, the generation of Ahed," Basem told The New Arab.

He is barred from entering Israel and will not be able to visit his daughter or wife in prison.

"They want to show others that there is a high price for doing anything. For that I am worried that they want to inflate the charges to inflate the punishment."

Ylenia Gostoli is an independent journalist based in Jerusalem. Her work was shortlisted for the Anna Lindh Mediterranean Journalist Award in 2014. 

Follow her on Twitter @YleniaGostoli