Monthly Archives: May 2012

Palestinian Activist, Bassem Tamimi, Sentenced to 13 Months Imprisonment & 17 months Suspended Sentence

By Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 29 May 2102

Tamimi was slapped with a longer imprisonment period than his alleged accomplice, who was convicted of more serious offenses.

Bassem Tamimi and wife, Nariman Tamimi, waiting at the Israeli military occupation court to hear sentencing.

In a controversial ruling by an Israeli Military Court earlier today, Tamimi, a grassroots organizer from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment, which he had already served. Tamimi’s alleged accomplice, who was charged of the same charges and was convicted also of charges that Tamimi was acquitted of, was only sentenced to 12 months imprisonment as part of a plea bargain.

In addition, the judge, Major Eti Adar, also sentenced Tamimi to a suspended sentence of 17 months, which will be activated in the event that he is convicted of committing incitement, solicitation to throw stones, stone-throwing, accessory to stone-throwing, attempted stone-throwing or actions against public order within the next five years. If convicted of having participated or organized unpermitted marches within the next two years, a suspended sentence of 2 months will be added to his punishment.

See here for a transcript of the sentencing hearing (Hebrew)

On hearing the sentence, Tamimi said, “The military court, being an instrument of occupation, sent a clear message today that Palestinian political prisoners are better off confessing to what they have not done than go to trial. I was acquitted of the bulk of the indictment against me, but served more time than my friend who chose to plead guilty to all the charges in a plea-bargain. Has I confessed to what I was not convicted of, I could have returned to my family earlier.”

The hefty suspended sentence imposed on Tamimi for “actions against public order” – a charge Tamimi was neither convicted of nor charged with – as well as for “incitement”, in fact represent an attempt to literally remove Tamimi from the sphere of political activism. The two offences are defined by military law in a manner that can be interpreted to include any political activity under the Occupation. The offence of actions against public order is defined as “Committing an act which harms or may harm public peace or public order” (Article 247 of the Order regarding Security Provisions [Consolidated Version]), while incitement is defined as “Attempts, orally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a manner which may harm public peace or public order (Article 247B1 of the Order regarding Security Provisions [Consolidated Version]).

Tamimi was arrested in March of 2011, indicted on protest-organizing related charges, and has spent 13 months in jail before he was granted bail last month. Tamimi was convicted on May 20th, a move that stirred harsh criticism by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who said that “The EU [...] is concerned at the use of evidence based on the testimony of a minor who was interrogated in violation of his rights”

The court acquitted Tamimi of incitement – the central charge brought against him, which included allegations of military-like activity – but convicted him of organizing and participating in illegal marches as well as of solicitation to throw stones.

The bulk of the indictment against Tamimi was based on the testimonies of three youth from the village, aged 15, 19, and most heavily on that of a 14 year-old. The judge ruled the statement given by the 14 year-old, Islam Dar Ayyoub, is unreliable and could not substantiate a conviction. The court therefore acquitted Tamimi of the incitement charge, that included allegations, supported only by  Dar Ayyoub’s testimony, that Tamimi had formed battalions who lead the demonstrations.

In regards to the 19 year-old’s statement, the judge ruled after viewing the recording of his interrogation, that the transcript of that was handed to the court was mendacious, and that the interrogators put words in his mouth, leading him to incriminate Tamimi.

The conviction, therefore, was based on the testimony of the 15 year-old, which the judge ruled is credible despite clear video evidence to the contrary. The audio-visual recording of his interrogation proves that he, too, was questioned in an unlawful manner, told to implicate others and was led to believe that doing so may earn him a more lenient treatment by the court. The boy was told, numerous times, “Tell us what happened [...] and who in the village incited you to throw stones. [...] (shouting) you were incited! You…. you are a young boy, incited by people. Grownups, we know. It’s the grownups who incite you, right?”

Tamimi’s trial has become the center on international interest and subject to criticism on the use of military justice to repress civil resistance to the occupation and on the treatment of minors. Following his arrest, Tamimi was recognized as a human rights defender by the European Union and pronounced a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. His verdict today was attended by a dozen diplomats, including the British, Spanish, Dutch, Slovenian and Cypriot Consul Generals, as well as the representative of the European Union. Diplomats from Germany, Sweden, Ireland the USA and the UN were also in attendance.

During the course of Tamimi’s trial, new evidence has emerged, including first hand verification given by a military commander of disproportional use of force by the army in response to peaceful demonstrations, as well as police admittal of systematic violations of Palestinian minors’ rights during police interrogations, when a police interrogator who questioned both material witnesses against Tamimi, said on the stand that in his 25 years as an officer, he cannot recall a single time in which a Palestinian minor was allowed the presence of his parents during questioning.

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Military Court to Sentence Palestinian Activist, Bassem Tamimi, on Tuesday 29 May 2012

by Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 27 May 2012

Bassem Tamimi (right) at the time of his release in April 2012 with fellow Nabi Saleh popular committee member, Naji Tamimi (centre) who also spent a year in jail for organising unarmed resistance to Israel’s occupation and Jonathan Pollak from the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (left).  Photo by Keren Manor, Activestills.org

Tamimi was convicted of protest-organizing related charges, despite the court’s harsh criticism of the prosecution and police. The conviction was denounced by the European Union.

The sentence of Palestinian activist, Bassem Tamimi, will be delivered at the Ofer Military Court on Tuesday, May 27. Tamimi, a grassroots organizer from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, was arrested in March of 2011, indicted on protest-organizing related charges, and has spent 13 months in jail before he was granted bail last month. Tamimi was convicted last week, a move that was followed by harsh criticism by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who said that “The EU [...] is concerned at the use of evidence based on the testimony of a minor who was interrogated in violation of his rights”

Last week, the court acquitted Tamimi of incitement – the central charge brought against him – but convicted him of organizing and participating in illegal marches as well as of solicitation to throw stones. Despite the harsh criticism it suffered for the integrity of the case, the Military  Prosecution has petitioned for Tamimi to be sentenced to a period longer than 18 months.

The bulk of the indictment against Tamimi was based on the testimonies of three youth from the village, aged 15, 19, and most heavily on that of a 14 year-old. The judge ruled the statement given by the 14 year-old, Islam Dar Ayyoub, is unreliable and could not substantiate a conviction. The court therefore acquitted Tamimi of the incitement charge, that included allegations, supported only by  Dar Ayyoub’s testimony, that Tamimi had formed battalions who lead the demonstrations.

In regards to the 19 year-old’s statement, the judge ruled after viewing the recording of his interrogation, that the transcript of that was handed to the court was mendacious, and that the interrogators put words in his mouth, leading him to incriminate Tamimi.

The conviction, therefore, was based on the testimony of the 15 year-old, which the judge ruled is credible despite clear video evidence to the contrary. The audio-visual recording of his interrogation proves that he, too, was questioned in an unlawful manner, told to implicate others and was led to believe that doing so may earn him a more lenient treatment by the court. The boy was told, numerous times, “Tell us what happened [...] and who in the village incited you to throw stones. [...] (shouting) you were incited! You…. you are a young boy, incited by people. Grownups, we know. It’s the grownups who incite you, right?”

Tamimi’s trial has become the center on international interest and subject to criticism on the use of military justice to repress civil resistance to the occupation and on the treatment of minors. Following his arrest, Tamimi was recognized as a human rights defender by the European Union and pronounced a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. His verdict today was attended by a dozen diplomats, including the British, Spanish, Dutch, Slovenian and Cypriot Consul Generals, as well as the representative of the European Union. Diplomats from Germany, Sweden, Ireland the USA and the UN were also in attendance.

During the course of Tamimi’s trial, new evidence has emerged, including first hand verification given by a military commander of disproportional use of force by the army in response to peaceful demonstrations, as well as police admittal of systematic violations of Palestinian minors’ rights during police interrogations, when a police interrogator who questioned both material witnesses against Tamimi, said on the stand that in his 25 years as an officer, he cannot recall a single time in which a Palestinian minor was allowed the presence of his parents during questioning.

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Israeli Occupation Forces target women protestors in Nabi Saleh

video by David Reeb

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Nabi Saleh women march to confiscated spring

by Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 25 May 2012

Nabi Saleh’s women have taken forefront of this small villages’ struggle. This week they led a women’s march to the spring confiscated by settlers, nearly reaching it despite military violence.

Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills

Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills

The army has blocked all entrances to Nabi Saleh this week, aiming to prevent dozens of supporters to reach the village’s demonstration. Nevertheless, most activists were able to circumvent the checkpoints and make it to the village on time to join the protest. Some one hundred people participated in the march that left from the center of the village shortly after the Friday prayer and made its way towards the main road

. Fields catch fire in Nabi Saleh due excessive to shooting of tear-gas canisters: Picture by Anne Paq/Activestills

Fields catch fire in Nabi Saleh due excessive to shooting of tear-gas canisters: Anne Paq/Activestills

Protesters were instantly met by military violence in the form of tear-gas canisters, rubber coated bullets and extensive use of the “skunk” – a water canon containing foul-smelling liquid which is used to disperse protesters.

While some clashes between the local youth and the army began to erupt, a group of approximately 20 women made its way to the spring that was confiscated by settlers of the adjacent Halamish. They were able to get approximately 15 meters from the spring when the army decided to push them back towards the village, mainly by using tear-gas canisters, some aimed directly at women, against the army’s own open fire regulations.  At the same time, the army also raided the village and shot tear-gas canisters and rubber coated bullets inside residential areas. Two were injured from rubber coated bullets and were treated in the field. No arrests were reported.

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Military Court Orders to Jail Palestinian Activist, Naji Tamimi, for Peacefully Protesting on Nakba Day

by Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 22 May 2012

Military Court Judge, Major Refael Yemini, ruled that Naji Tamimi, a protest leader from the village of Nabi Saleh is to remain in jail until the end of his trial for having participated in a peaceful demonstration.

Video by Khaled Sabarneh

Naji Tamimi, a 49 year-old activist from the village of Nabi Saleh, was arrested on May 15, during a demonstration at the Ni’ilin Checkpoint to commemorate the Nakba of 1948. Despite the peaceful nature of the demonstration, an Israeli military judge decided on Sunday to accept of the Military Prosecution’s motion to detain Tamimi until the end of legal proceedings against him. An appeal on the decision will be heard on Thursday at 10:30 AM, at the Military Court of Appeals.

Tamimi - who has only recently been released after a year in prison after being convicted of charges related to protest-organizing in his village – is not accused of any violence, but is, nevertheless, possibly facing two years imprisonment under Israel’s complete ban on Palestinian demonstrations in the West Bank. Furthermore, during the remand hearing, the military prosecutor admitted that Tamimi has been singled out for prosecution because of who he is and not for what he has done. The prosecutor, Captain Michael Avitan, said, “Had the defendant been someone else, the prosecution would most likely would not have asked to keep him in remand”, exposing the prosecution’s political motivation. The prosecutor also mentioned the presence of journalists at the protest and the fact that protesters were holding flags and signs as an aggravating factor.

During his previous incarceration, between March 2011 to February 2012, Tamimi was recognized as a human rights defender by the European Union.

Under military order 101, practically every Palestinian demonstration in the West Bank is forbidden. A violation of the order, which outlaws any gathering of ten or more people – whether in the public domain or not – unless it was granted a special permit in writing by the military commander, is punishable by ten years imprisonment. Israeli citizens, even when in the West Bank, are not subject to the draconian order. When participating in the same demonstration, Palestinian subjects are tried by military law, while Israeli citizens tried by Israeli criminal law.

On Sunday, another resident of Nabi Saleh, Bassem Tamimi, was convicted by the military court, in a trial that generated international attention and harsh criticism on Israel’s military justice system.

Background Naji Tamimi, a father of five and veteran grassroots activist, was born on September 2nd, 1962, in the village of Nabi Saleh. Tamimi studied accounting in Jordan, before completing a bachelor’s degree in history and political science at the Birzeit University, where he later also earned a master’s degree in Arab contemporary studies.

Tamimi comes from a family with long history in the Palestinian liberation struggle. His father was badly injured during the 1947-8 war, while serving under Abd al-Qader al-Husseini in the battle of Latrun. His elder brother, who was a PLO member based in Lebanon, was killed in 1973 during an attack staged by Israeli forces on the refugee camps of Baddawi and Nahr al-Bared. Tamimi himself has lost 17 acres of privately owned land, which were expropriated by Israeli authorities and handed over to the Israeli Jewish-only settlement of Halamish, located adjacent to Nabi Saleh from the south.

Tamimi has written extensively on both Palestinian culture and politics, and is the elected president of the Nabi Saleh cultural club. Prior to his current detention, Tamimi had spent a total of six years in Israeli prisons, in three different periods. As early as 1982, he was involved in the founding of Fatah’s Youth Committees for Social Work (al-Shabibah) in the North Ramallah area. The Shabibah was Fatah’s first serious popular enterprise, and later became one of the driving forces of the First Intifada. His latest imprisonment, a one-year sentence on charges of “incitement” and “organizing unpermitted marches”, ended in February 2012.

Tamimi’s lifelong devotion to justice and liberation remains wedded to his commitment to grassroots community organizing. He is one of the coordinators of the Nabi Saleh popular committee and a key figure in the village’s struggle to regain its lands from the settlement and end Israeli occupation.

In 1992, Tamimi married Bushra Tamimi, with which he fathers five children – two boys and three girls. He employed by the Ministry of Civil Affairs in the Palestinian Authority, as the manager of the Infrastructure and Land Department.

Tamimi is currently detained at the Ofer Prison near Ramallah, awaiting trial. He is charged with participating in an unpremitted march, obstruction of a soldier and illegally leaving a closed area.

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AFP: West Bank activist Tamimi convicted of stoning charge

By Steve Weizman (AFP)

Bassem Tamimi – centre

An Israeli court on Sunday convicted Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi of dispatching stone-throwers and protesting illegally, in a case closely watched by the EU.

But he was cleared of two more serious charges, including incitement and perverting the court of justice, according to an AFP correspondent who attended the hearing at Ofer military court near Ramallah.

“I decided to convict you on two of the charges against you: the charge of sending people to throw stones, and holding a march without a permit,” said the judge, Major Eti Ador.

“I am clearing you of incitement and of perverting the course of justice,” she said, indicating the sentencing process would begin on May 24.

Tamimi, 45, was charged with soliciting stone-throwing based on evidence that he directed such incidents from the roof-tops.

He was arrested on March 24, 2011 and accused of organising illegal gatherings and incitement in connection with a series of weekly demonstrations in Nabi Saleh village in protest at Jewish settlers taking over their land.

He was released on bail on April 24, 2012, after his elderly mother suffered a stroke, although he was kept under house arrest in Ramallah.

Tamimi’s arrest sparked international condemnation with the European Union recognising him as a human rights defender, and Amnesty International declaring him a prisoner of conscience.

Dressed in blue jeans, a black shirt and a black leather jacket, Tamimi stood impassively as the verdict was read out to the courtroom which was packed with European diplomats, NGO representatives, a handful of journalists and his wife, Nariman.

“This court, the occupation and justice are parallel lines that will never meet,” he told AFP shortly after the hearing, looking tired and resigned.

Jonathan Pollak, a veteran Israeli activist who has closely followed Tamimi’s trial, said the solicitation to throw stones was a lesser charge than the broader allegation of incitement, of which he was cleared.

“After 13 months in jail it is not possible he would not have been convicted for something in such a high-profile case,” Pollack told AFP. “They had to do something.”

But in a court which almost invariably finds against Palestinian defendants, the fact that Tamimi was acquitted on two charges was verging on the miraculous, he said.

“In a military court with a 99.74 percent conviction rate the very fact that he was even partially acquitted could be regarded a miracle,” he remarked.

“However, he has already spent 13 months in prison for exercising his right to protest, based on the coerced confessions of minors,” he said.

The military prosecution’s case against Tamimi was largely based on the testimony of two boys aged 14 and 15, although activists say their interrogation was fundamentally flawed and violated many of their rights as minors.

Besides being acquitted of obstruction of the course of justice and incitement, Tamimi was also acquitted of failure to attend legal summons, Pollak said.

The trial has been closely watched by European officials, several of whom attended Sunday’s hearing.

“We are here to be witnesses… to show solidarity. There is a great deal of interest in this case,” one of them told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Speaking to AFP ahead of the hearing, Tamimi said he did not expect to receive justice.

“The laws come from an occupying regime whose legitimacy I do not recognise. I don’t think even for a single minute that there is going to be justice done.”

His lawyer, Labib Habib, told reporters that Tamimi was being prosecuted for taking part in “a legitimate protest against the confiscation of land for settlement purposes.”

“He believes in passive resistance and says he never asked anyone to throw stones,” Habib said.

The weekly demonstrations in Nabi Saleh began at the end of 2009, following a years-long legal battle with residents of Halamish settlement who in 2001 seized around 240 acres (100 hectares) of the villagers’ land.

One Friday, the villagers accompanied the farmers to their land to help cultivate it but were prevented from getting there by settlers and the army.

It soon became a Friday tradition, with the villagers routinely trying to reach the land and finding themselves blocked by the army, which says such demonstrations are illegal.

Almost all demonstrations in the Palestinian territories are defined as “illegal” under Israeli military law, which states that any gathering of 10 or more people requires a permit.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) the ban on demonstrations and the forced dispersal of peaceful protests represent “a clear violation of the rules of international law that are incumbent on the occupying power.”

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Palestinian Activist, Bassem Tamimi, Convicted; Prosecution Criticized by Court

by Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 20 May 2012

 Israeli military judge convicted Tamimi of two charges, but acquitted him of three, based on the testimony of 15 year-old who was instructed to incriminate him. The verdict criticized the police and prosecution on minors’ interrogations

Military judge, Major Eti Adar, read the verdict in the trial of Bassem Tamimi - a prominent protest organizer from the village of Nabi Saleh - at the Ofer military court today, in front of a court room packed with diplomats, journalists and supporters. Tamimi was arrested in March of 2011, indicted on protest-organizing charges, and has spent 13 months in jail before he was granted bail last month. His trial has shed light on systematic violations of Palestinian minors’ right during police interrogations, and the use of their coerced confession to persecute political leadership.

The court acquitted Tamimi of incitement – the central charge in the indictment, as well as from obstruction of justice and failure to attend legal summons charges. However, he was convicted of organizing and participating in illegal marches and of solicitation to throw stones.

On hearing the verdict, Tamimi said, “I spent 13 months in prison for exercising my right to protest, and have now been convicted based on the testimony of a 15 year-old who was instructed by his interrogators to incriminate me. I never had any illusions about the military court and its ability to serve justice – it is, after all, an instrument of the Occupation.”

The bulk of the indictment was based on the testimonies of three youth from the village, aged 15, 19, and most heavily on that of a 14 year-old. The judge ruled the statement given by the 14 year-old, Islam Dar Ayyoub, is unreliable and could not substantiate a conviction. The court therefore acquitted Tamimi of the incitement charge, that included allegations, supported only by  Dar Ayyoub’s testimony, that Tamimi had formed battalions who lead the demonstrations.

In regards to the 19 year-old’s statement, the judge ruled after viewing the recording of his interrogation, that the transcript of that was handed to the court was mendacious, and that the interrogators put words in his mouth, leading him to incriminate Tamimi.

The conviction, therefore, was based on the testimony of the 15 year-old, which the judge ruled is credible despite clear video evidence to the contrary. The audio-visual recording of his interrogation proves that he, too, was questioned in an unlawful manner, told to implicate others and was led to believe that doing so may earn him a more lenient treatment by the court. The boy was told, numerous times, “Tell us what happened [...] and who in the village incited you to throw stones. [...] (shouting) you were incited! You…. you are a young boy, incited by people. Grownups, we know. It’s the grownups who incite you, right?”

Tamimi’s trial has become the center on international interest and subject to criticism on the use of military justice to repress civil resistance to the occupation and on the treatment of minors. Following his arrest, Tamimi was recognized as a human rights defender by the European Union and pronounced a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. His verdict today was attended by a dozen diplomats, including the British, Spanish, Dutch, Slovenian and Cypriot Consul Generals, as well as the representative of the European Union. Diplomats from Germany, Sweden, Ireland the USA and the UN were also in attendance.

During the course of Tamimi’s trial, new evidence has emerged, including first hand verification given by a military commander of disproportional use of force by the army in response to peaceful demonstrations, as well as police admittal of systematic violations of Palestinian minors’ rights during police interrogations, when a police interrogator who questioned both material witnesses against Tamimi, said on the stand that in his 25 years as an officer, he cannot recall a single time in which a Palestinian minor was allowed the presence of his parents during questioning.

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