For background information on the I AM NABI SALEH project and exhibition, please see our earlier post (click here)
Monthly Archives: September 2011
Bassem Tamimi’s Trial Opens; Military Commander Admits Violently Dispersing Nabi Saleh Protests Also When Peaceful
by Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: Sunday, 25 September 2011
The trial of Nabi Saleh protest organizer, Bassem Tamimi, opened today with the testimony of Major Michelle Dahan who alleged that Tamimi ordered youth to throw stones based on the fact that he saw him on rooftops during demonstrations.
After more than half a year behind lock and key, the trial of Palestinian protest organizer, Bassem Tamimi, opened today with the testimony of the first prosecution witness, Major Michelle Dahan. Dahan served as a deputy battalion commander in Nabi Saleh between January and May this year, and was to testify on behalf of the prosecution in order to substantiate allegations of incitement to violence against Tamimi.
Dahan, who was commander of the military forces in the area and in charge of the Nabi Saleh demonstrations throughout said period, made it clear that the protests were dispersed before any violence ensued . He said, “[...] after midday prayer, at around noon, some 40 to 70 people would set out from the mosque’s courtyard [...] and march down with flags [...]. As soon as the procession arrived at the [village's] main junction, we would declare it illegal and order people to disperse [...]. When the march would not disperse, we would start using crowd control measures [...]“.
Referring to the protesters Dahan said, “We recognized the same activists, the same children and adults, with the adults mostly occupied with directing the forces [...]“. Throughout his testimony, Dahan reputedly to referred to the stone throwing children as “forces”, alternating the two words.
He went on to say that “The defendant would appear at the beginning of every demonstration, and as soon as it would turn violent, the defendant would disappear. During the stone-throwing, when we would enter inside the village to arrest the stone throwers, we’d recognize him on rooftops”.
The indictment against Tamimi alleges that he architected an elaborate system of violence against soldiers during Nabi Saleh demonstrations. Dahan indeed testified that Tamimi directed the village youth from rooftops, but could not back his statement by more that hearsay and speculation. The only concrete incident Dahan was able to tie Tamimi to took place at an unknown date in January wherein he claimed to have seen the defendant standing on a roof top in the village, shouting and waving his arms during clashes in the village. Dahan, however, admitted to not having heard what the older men were shouting and to the fact that he does not at all understand the Arabic language.
When asked why he did not order Tamimi’s arrest based on what he saw, Dahan admitted that his commanding officers ordered him not to do so, saying “My certainty [that Tamimi incited the youth] was apparently not sufficient [to justify arrest]“.
See here for the full protocol of the hearing (in Hebrew)
After being previous postponed 3 time, Bassem Tamimi’s military court case had been rescheduled to be held on Wednesday 21 September. It was again postpone, as outlined below in a media release issued by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee. It is now rescheduled to resume on Sunday, 25 September.
By Popular Struggle Coordination Commitee: 21 September 2011
Tamimi’s hearing was postponed for the 4th time, after the prosecution summoned the wrong witnesses. The trial will resume on Sunday, when three soldiers will testify.
When: Sunday, September 25th, 2011 at 1:30 PM
Where: Ofer Military Court*
* Entry to the military court must be coordinated with the Israeli army’s spokesperson’s office in advance.
Media contact: Jonathan Pollak +972-54-632-7736
The Military Prosecution anounced on protocol today that it has mistakenly summoned the wrong witnesses to today’s hearing. This was the fourth hearing in the case to have been postponed to date and while Tamimi is imprisoned since late March this year, the court hasyet to have heard even a single witnes in the case. Proceedings in the case have been prolonged as hearings were canceled due to prosecution witnesses not showing up, technical issues and postponements by the prosecution.
After telling the judge that he does not recognize the legitimacy of the court and of military law during his arraignment on June 5th, Bassem Tamimi’s trial is expected to open this coming Sunday, when prosecution witnesses will take the stand for the first time. On June 14th, the EU has expressed its concern over Tamimi’s incarceration in a statement given during the 17th session of the UN’s Human Rights Council.
The case against Tamimi is largely based on the coerced testimony of 14 year-old Islam Dar Ayyoub, also from Nabi Saleh, who was taken from his bed at gunpoint on the night of January 23rd. In his interrogation the morning after his arrest, Islam alleged that Bassem and Naji Tamimi organized groups of youth into “brigades”, charged with different responsibilities during the demonstrations: some were allegedly in charge of stone-throwing, others of blocking roads, etc.
During a trial-within-a-trial procedure in Islam’s trial, motioning for his testimony to be ruled inadmissible, it was proven that his interrogation was fundamentally flawed and violated the rights set forth in the Israeli Youth Law in the following ways:
Despite being a minor, he was questioned in the morning following his arrest, having been denied sleep.
He was denied legal counsel, although his lawyer appeared at the police station requesting to see him.
He was denied his right to have a parent present during his questioning.
He was not informed of his right to remain silent, and was even told by his interrogators that he is “expected to tell the truth”.
Only one of four interrogators present was a qualified youth interrogator.
Troops fired tear gas during a curfew in a West Bank village to stop peaceful demonstrations
By Donald Macintyre, The Independent: Friday, 16 September 2011
Israeli troops fired tear gas indiscriminately and sometimes dangerously to enforce a daytime curfew inside a West Bank village to stop Palestinians holding a peaceful demonstration on their own land, a military whistleblower has told The Independent.
The soldier’s insight into the methods of troops comes as the Israeli military prepares for demonstrations predicted when the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submits an application for the recognition of statehood to the UN next week.
The testimony also reinforces a report by the human rights agency B’Tselem which argues that the way Israel deals with protests in the small village of Nabi Saleh is denying the “basic right” to demonstrate in the West Bank. The right to demonstrate is enshrined in international conventions ratified by Israel.
The soldier, a reservist NCO with extensive combat experience, was among more than 20 soldiers sent into the village more than two hours before a planned Friday demonstration in July, to try to quash protests before they began. The protests started in December 2009 after Jewish settlers appropriated a spring on privately-owned Nabi Saleh land.
The reservist, who originally testified to the veterans’ organisation Breaking the Silence, told The Independent that they went into a house in the village and took a position on the roof. “The sun was very hot, but we had to keep our helmets on,” he said. “Then some soldiers start getting bored and start shooting tear gas on people. Every guy who is not in his house or in the mosque is a target.”
He said that 150 rounds of tear gas or stun grenades were fired during the day and one soldier boasted that he had fired a tear gas canister which passed within one centimetre of a resident’s head.
Army rules prohibit firing canisters directly at people because they have caused serious injuries in the past. Another soldier travelling with the whistleblower in a military vehicle out of the village was left with an unfired tear gas canister.
“He should have fired it into an open field but we passed a grocery story with some people outside it with children. After we passed it he just turned round and fired it at them.”
The reservist was given a week’s preparation on the use of stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas. He had been impressed by a four to five -hour visit to the trainees by the Binyamin Brigade Commander Sa’ar Tzur who addressed “issues of ethics and human life, not just on our side but on the other side”.
Some soldiers complained about the strictness of prohibitions – not always honoured, according to the leaders of the weekly Nabi Saleh protests – on the use of live ammunition. But Colonel Tzur “was very strict on the fact that these are the rules and that anyone who breaks them will pay for it”.
But the battalion officer, a religious West Bank settler, was “exactly the opposite,” he added. “At the base there was a mission statement signed by the Brigade Commander which said ‘we need to maintain the fabric of life for the civilian population, Israelis and Palestinians.’ The battalion officer crossed out the word ‘Palestinians’ and all the soldiers around started laughing.”
video by Haitham Khatib
Video by Israel Puterman
By Tamimi Press
By Silvia Boarini : Palestine Monitor: September 13, 2011
Looking at the images covering the walls at the Academy of Arts in Ramallah, one might not realize that these photos were all taken by young adults, between the ages of 14 and 17.
The young artists, all from the now-iconic village of Nabi Salih, were handed digital cameras and under the guidance of internationally renowned Palestinian photographer and video maker Issa Freij, sought to document a different aspect of their daily surroundings.
“I am Nabi Salih” manages to portray a side of the village that remains unknown even to the tireless Friday activist. More importantly, Ramer stresses, “it was a chance to do something other than just bringing more journalists or more NGOs to the village.”
Ramer’s relationship with Nabi Salih goes back a long way. She first arrived in Israel from the USA in 2006 as part of the Zionist Youth movement, but quickly decided she needed to explore both sides of the divide. She wanted to try and understand Palestine.
Her first port of call was Nabi Salih.
“The village has played a big part in educating me about the occupation,” she says.
Community leader Bassam Tamimi, currently imprisoned for participating in the Friday demonstrations, once told Ramer, “you came to remove the occupation from your mind.” And Ramer agrees. She says that is exactly what coming to Nabi Salih has done.
By B’Tselem: September 2011
To read full report click here
A-Nabi Saleh is a Palestinian village in the West Bank, north of Ramallah. For for more than eighteen months now, every Friday, its residents have demonstrated against settlers seizing nearby land that belongs to Palestinians. The Friday processions held in the village have become one of the main sites of weekly protest in the West Bank in recent years.
In their handling of the protests in a-Nabi Saleh, Israel’s security forces have infringed the rights of the Palestinian demonstrators in three fundamental ways, as follows:
Security forces disperse a demonstration in a-Nabi Saleh, 21 May 2010. Photo: Oren Ziv, activestills.org
Violation of the right to demonstrate
B’Tselem’s documentation indicates that Israel does not recognize the right of a-Nabi Saleh’s residents to demonstrate. Israeli security forces prohibit the demonstrators from reaching the site that is the subject of the demonstration – al-Qawas Spring and the land around it – and prevent the procession from exiting the village towards the spring. Also, the army declares the demonstration illegal at the outset, sometimes even before the procession begins. The army also issues an order declaring the entire village a closed military area every Friday, and blocks the roads leading to it. As a result, persons from outside the village are unable to exercise their right to join in the demonstration.
Video by B’Tselem
To view more videos click here
Excessive use of means for dispersing demonstrations
The security forces’ use of means to disperse the demonstrations is excessive and occurs even when the demonstrators are nonviolent and pose no threat. The forces fire enormous quantities of tear gas inside the built-up area of the village, which is home to hundreds of persons. In one demonstration, at least 150 tear-gas canisters were fired. In another demonstration, security forces hurled tear gas canisters at a procession of children in costumes who were flying kites. At times, the tear gas canisters are fired directly at the demonstrators, endangering their lives. Also, security forces throw stun grenades almost without limitation at children and adults alike, to disperse them, even when they pose no threat whatsoever.
Video by B’Tselem
Harm to the civilian population
The army and the Border Police invest a great amount of resources in dispersing these regular demonstrations, in which several dozen people participate. These resources include the deployment of forces at the main intersection of the village, and the vast quantities of means to disperse demonstrations. Handling of the demonstrations in this manner is disproportionate. It intimidates hundreds of villagers and forces them to remain in their houses for many hours, making it impossible for them to lead a normal life. The massive amounts of tear gas fired penetrate the houses close to the main intersection in the village, and the occupants are unable to escape.
Also, the restrictions on movement in the area every Friday create difficulties for residents of all the nearby villages.
In advance of the expected declaration of a Palestinian state on 20 September 2011, Israel’s defense establishment is preparing to cope with wide-scale demonstrations in the West Bank. As part of the preparations, the security forces must recognize Palestinians’ right to demonstrate, and must allow them to protest against infringement of their rights. The decision to disperse a demonstration must be made only after the relevant authorities have properly balanced the right to demonstrate against other relevant interests, as is done in the case of demonstrations held inside Israel. In any event, means for dispersing demonstrations must not be used in a way that injures persons or punishes all residents of the village.
by Maan News: Friday 09/09/2011
Demonstrations began after Friday prayers as protesters chanted slogans against the Israeli occupation and a likely US veto of the UN bid.
Participants waved flags with the logo of “The state of Palestine 194″ as they marched through the village carrying a black coffin with the words “Oslo Accords” written on it.
The protesters were met by Israeli forces who fired tear gas and sound grenades at the rally.
The activities were organized as part of the upcoming anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords on Sept. 13 1993, a statement from the popular resistance movement said.
Israel has killed the accords, it added, saying that they were now just “ink on paper.”
The movement called on the international community to support the Palestinian people and back the UN bid for statehood.
Under the 1995 Oslo 2 agreement, following on from the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators outlined a plan for Palestinian autonomy allowing the Palestinian Authority administrative and security control of around 17.2 percent of the West Bank, Area A.
The rest of the West Bank and Gaza Strip remained under Israeli military occupation.
The interim deal was intended to lead to a final status agreement by 1999, but a permanent solution was never reached and frequent incursions by the Israeli army into Area A have undermined the agreement.
by Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 9 Sept 2011
Soldiers tried to disperse the demonstration and prevent protesters from reaching their lands using tear-gas. A 14 year-old was detained and three were lightly injured.
Protesters in Nabi Saleh carried a mock coffin today, to symbolize the long due burial of the Oslo Accords. As the march headed in the direction of the village’s spring, a symbolic funeral was held on the hill overlooking the settlement.
As protesters tried to march down to the contested spring, which settlers are actively trying to take over, soldiers began shooting tear-gas to stop their advance. As the army moved closer and closer towards the village’s built up area, clashes ensued.
Escaping the noxious clouds of tear-gas that spread all over the hill, demonstrators regrouped at the center of the village, and started walking down the main road towards the military tower at the entrance to the village. When a group of youth flew a Palestinian flag from atop the military gate at the entrance to the village, large forces of Border Police staged an incursion into the village, once more shooting large amounts of tear-gas and forcing the demonstrators to retreat.
At around 5:30 PM, as clashes have already moved back to the hill west of the village, a 14 year-old boy was detained at the entrance to his house. He was rushed inside an armored military vehicle and kept inside it for hours. In the hours to follow, the same vehicle, as well as a few others, drove in and out of the village provocatively, with no obvious goal. Barricades were built on the main road where people stayed even past nightfall.
At 10:30 PM, the 14 year-old was released without even being questioned. He reports having been beaten up by the Border Police officers who detained him and inside the jeep.
Video by planxtysumoud