Video by Israel Puterman
Video by David Reeb
Video by Israel Puterman
Video by David Reeb
For the past three days, the gate connecting the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh to the main road leading to Ramallah has been locked by Israeli authorities. Residents of Nabi Saleh, as well as nearby villages, have been forced to use alternative routes and travel long distances in order to get to or return from the city. The army has not given a reason for the closure.
Just hours before Jews begin celebrating Passover, the residents of Nabi Saleh will lead a demonstration against the gate’s locking. According to the residents, the move is intended as collective punishment against the village due to its popular struggle in response to the confiscation of a nearby freshwater spring by the adjacent settlement of Halamish.
Meanwhile, the entire West Bank is under closure for the holiday (as is the practice for every Jewish holiday); even those with permits will not be able to cross checkpoints.
OFER MILITARY COURT (AFP) — An Israeli military court formally charged two Palestinian women on Tuesday over their involvement in a peaceful demonstration in the West Bank last month.
Palestinian activist Nariman a-Tamimi (left) and Rana Hamadah sit for
the verdict in Ramallah on July 9. (photo by Ahmad Gharabli)
In a hearing at Ofer military court near Ramallah, Nariman Tamimi, 37, and Rana Hamadah, 21, who also holds Canadian nationality, were charged with “entering a closed military zone” during a demonstration in Nabi Saleh, where villagers have been protesting since 2009 over the seizure of their lands by a nearby settlement.
Both pleaded not guilty.
According to Israeli rights group B’Tselem, the two were part of a group of around 25 people who participated in a peaceful demonstration on June 28 which was stopped by a group of Israeli soldiers and border police as they crossed a field near the village.
After a five minute standoff during which the forces informed them the area was a closed military zone, the group turned around and headed back towards the village, said B’Tselem’s Sarit Michaeli, who was videoing the protest.
“A group of five or six of them were just walking back when suddenly they were stopped and three of them were arrested,” she said.
The two women and a Spanish national were then driven around in the back of a jeep for most of the day, and taken to a police station around midnight.
Security forces released the Spanish woman but drove the other two to HaSharon, where they were held until late on Monday night, Michaeli said.
“This particular demonstration did not involve stone throwing,” she told AFP, explaining that despite the peaceful nature of the protest, the military prosecution initially asked for the two to be held until the end of legal proceedings in a step she described as “disproportionate”.
The court rejected the request, but a judge ruled that Tamimi, a mother of four who is married to veteran Nabi Saleh activist Bassem Tamimi, would be placed under house arrest every Friday. She is next due in court on September 3.
Hamadah, who is studying in Canada and is also facing obstruction charges after trying to prevent the forces from handcuffing her, was also barred from entering the village on a Friday. Her next hearing is on July 17.
“Usually the charge is violence or incitement to violence but in this case, there was no claim that they acted violently,” Michaeli said. “This is using the system to try to stop these people from being active politically.”
The arrest in 2011 of Tamimi’s husband on charges of organizing illegal gatherings and incitement sparked international condemnation with the European Union recognizing him as a human rights defender, and Amnesty International declaring him a prisoner of conscience.
Almost all demonstrations in Palestine are defined as “illegal” under Israeli military law, which states that any gathering of 10 or more people requires a permit.
The IDF did not charge the two protesters with stone throwing, violent conduct or illegal gathering – but rather for violating a ‘closed military zone order,’ a highly unusual indictment. If the pair are convicted in court, it could set a precedent that demonstrates Palestinians are forbidden by Israel to oppose the occupation in any way.
The IDF’s Ofer Military Court in the West Bank will hold its first hearing tomorrow (Tuesday) in the trial of Nariman Tamimi and Rana Hamadah, two Palestinian women who were arrested on Friday, June 28 at the weekly demonstration against the occupation in Nabi Saleh.
The two women were held in Sharon Prison, in Israel, for more than three days before being brought before a military judge and indicted for entering a “closed military zone.” Rana Hamadah was also charged with obstructing a soldier in the execution of his duty.
Hamadah told +972 that during her arrest she asked the IDF soldier why she was being handcuffed, to which he replied: “Because I feel like it.” Hamadah said the pair were left handcuffed and blindfolded for nine hours, and were driven around in a vehicle with two male soldiers for seven more hours before being booked in Sharon Prison.
“Seeing the prisoners’ struggle from the inside gives an incredible urgency to their cause,” she said, adding that, “what we don’t see, and easily forget, is that the prisoners really must struggle for every passing minute.”
Nariman Tamimi told +972 this was the fifth time she has been arrested. She speculated that her arrest was part of the IDF’s efforts to crack down on the village’s right to protest, saying that Israel is “trying to make an example out of the village” by inflicting collective punishment.
A foreign national arrested along with the two Palestinian women was released later the same night and barred from entering the village for 15 days.
According to Israeli military law, under which Palestinians live, there is no such thing as a legal protest without permission from a military commander, which is rarely if ever granted (which is why arrests for stone throwing or organizing protests are so rampant).
According to B’Tselem, the legal proceedings initiated against Tamimi and Hamada since their arrest – and especially the IDF request for their remand for duration of proceedings (which was denied) – are unprecedented given the minor nature of the offense they are charged with. The indictment does not claim that the two women acted violently – which is usually the pretense for IDF arrests – and the military prosecution rarely issues indictments for violating a “closed military zone.” From personal experience, I can attest that the IDF often baselessly issues such orders as a tool to repress protests, and in violation of Israeli High Court rulings, so the suspicion is that Israel is using its military legal control in the West Bank to repress legitimate protests.
As indicated by video footage, the demonstration was not violent and the women were not involved in any stone throwing or other act that could be construed as violent. Two military judges who watched video footage of the women’s arrest stated that they found no evidence of violent or menacing behavior on their part. It will therefore be interesting to see if and how the courts uphold the IDF’s arrests.
Like other high-profile arrests in Nabi Saleh, the women’s case is also attracting international attention. Amnesty International issued a statement on July 4 demanding that Israel stop the “bullying of Palestinian activists.” Its Middle East and North Africa program director said of the two women’s arrest: “They have been denied the basic human right to peacefully protest over land illegally seized by Israeli settlers, and the Israeli judiciary has used spurious legal tools to punish them for exercising their basic human right to peaceful protest.”
Since 2009, Nabi Saleh has been holding weekly protests against Israeli occupation, the wall and annexation of their land, including their spring, which has been seized by settlers from Halamish. Nairman’s husband, Bassem Tamimi, the village’s well-known Palestinian activist and non-violent leader, has been arrested several times and spent years in Israeli jail. Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience last year.
In this interview below, Nariman Taimimi describes the ordeal of their arrest, which she claims was the first time she was NOT beaten, but included other abuses such as being held overnight in a car and threatened with being strip-searched by male officers:
Video by International Solidarity Movement.
Amnesty International has accused the Israeli authorities of bullying and judicial harassment of Nariman Tamimi, a Palestinian rights activist who was placed under partial house arrest today to prevent her taking part in peaceful protests while she awaits trial next week.
“This is an unrelenting campaign of harassment, the latest in a litany of human rights violations against Nariman Tamimi, her family, and her fellow villagers. These arbitrary restrictions should be lifted immediately and the charges should be dropped,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
Tamimi was arrested along with another activist Rana Hamadi on Friday 28 June, when villagers of Nabi Saleh walked towards a nearby spring in protest against the loss of their land. In 2009 Israeli settlers occupied the Al-Qaws spring near Nabi Saleh village where Tamimi lives. The illegal settlement now enjoys the protection of the military.
During the protest a soldier approached them waving a piece of paper and saying they could be arrested if they did not leave. When they tried to leave the area, more soldiers approached and arrested them. Both women were charged with being in a “closed military zone”.
Following their release on bail on Monday, the court has now put them under partial house arrest. They are not allowed to leave their family homes between 9am to 5pm on Fridays when the weekly protest takes place.
“They have been denied the basic human right to peacefully protest over land illegally seized by Israeli settlers, and the Israeli judiciary has used spurious legal tools to punish them for exercising their basic human right to peaceful protest,” said Philip Luther.
Speaking to Amnesty International following her arrest, Nariman Tamimi described how the two women were kept in conditions that included being held in leg-cuffs, detained overnight in a car, and held in a van carrying male Israeli prisoners who she said shouted verbal abuse at them and intimidated them physically.
Tamimi has already suffered previous arrests and raids on her home. Her husband Bassem has been jailed at least twice and held as a prisoner of conscience.
Her brother Rushdi Tamimi was shot in the back with live ammunition by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration last year. He died two days later in hospital. Video evidence shows that Israeli soldiers delayed his family’s attempts to take him to hospital.
“This shows the sustained brutality of the military and the Israeli authorities’ determination to target and harass those prepared to stand up for their rights. They use every tool in the box to intimidate activists and their families into silence,” said Philip Luther.
Since 2009, Israel has banned Palestinians, including landowners, from access to their spring and surrounding land while settlers enjoyed free access to the spring and were allowed to continue building in its vicinity.
The weekly protests are characterized by unnecessary and excessive use of force by the Israeli military, including live fire, rubber coated metal bullets, stun grenades thrown at protestors, pepper spray, batons, and the misuse of teargas.
Israeli forces have killed two protesters at Nabi Saleh, and have injured hundreds of others in the last four years. The subsequent military investigations have not met international standards of independence or impartiality.
Soldiers regularly raid the village, conducting house searches and arresting people including children late at night.
Nariman Tamimi and Rana Hamadi have been charged with being in a “closed military zone”. The trial is scheduled for Tuesday 9 July.
Video by Bilal Tamimi
Video by David Reeb
Update 29th June 2:15pm: Both Palestinian activists have a court date set in Ofer military court tomorrow.
Update 29th June 1:00pm: The Two Palestinian activists are now currently being held at HaSharon Prison.
Update 29th June 09:00am: The two Palestinian activists are currently being held at Jalameh prison. They may or may not have court on Sunday but will not be released before then.
Update 29th June 2am: The international activist arrested at the protest was released last night.
Update 29th June 00.45am: The two Palestinian activists are currently being interrogated at Giva Binyamin police station.
During the June 28th demonstration in Nabi Salih, after Friday prayer had finished, the Palestinians once again began their resistance against the illegal Israeli occupation. As usual, their demonstration was met with high levels of violence; disproportionate teargas was fired and foul smelling skunk water was shot onto homes. Two Palestinians and one international were arrested. They are currently being held in Binyamin police station.
At around 1:30 pm demonstrators began marching towards the stolen water spring of Nabi Salih, currently occupied by Israeli settlers from the nearby illegal settlement of Halamish. As soon as the demonstrators began to descend the mountain, two military jeeps began using their tempest tear gas attachments, firing excessive tear gas canisters directly at unarmed marchers. The military jeeps then began to aim directly at those who chose to stay on the road, shooting canisters at head height and disregarding the flammable nature of the local petrol station. The skunk truck and two jeeps then invaded the centre of the village, including the olive groves [as seen in video] which then allowed the skunk truck to maneuver freely, shooting at all homes and demonstrators in its wake.
After this, those demonstrators that had reached the bottom of the mountain close to the spring were faced with a large group of soldiers. Demonstrators confronted the soldiers; however as the video shows, the soldiers disregarded the rights the Palestinians have to their land and proceeded to aim their weaponry at demonstrators. Two Palestinian women, including prominent Nabi Saleh activist Nariman Tamimi, and one international man, believed to be from Spain, were arrested for no reason other than resisting the occupation. It is currently understood that these three have been transferred to Giva Binyamin police station, where they are still currently being held.
The village of Nabi Salih has been demonstrating against the theft of the natural spring and the occupation since December 2009. Israeli forces violently suppress the weekly Friday protests by shooting tear gas canisters, skunk water, sound bombs, rubber coated steel bullets and even live ammunition at protesters. Two people have been killed, Mustafa and Rushdi Tamimi, and many others severely injured. Resident Bassem Tamimi, has spent 17 months in Israeli jails, merely for being a prominent activist at the protests. After more than three years and despite the repression, Nabi Saleh continues to fight against the injustices of a brutal military Israeli occupation.
Friday’s demonstration in Nabi Saleh marched in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners who are on hunger strike. Activists report the IOF are using “popcorn” teargas today – Shooting many canisters at once from a machine attached to IOF vehicles.
According to activists on the ground in Nabi Saleh more than 300+ teargas canisters were fired by the Israeli Occupation Forces within the first 5 minutes of its attack on today’s regular Friday demonstration by the village against Israel’s military occupation.
Israeli Occupation Forces arrested Nariman Tamimi and Rana Nazzal, along with Spanish International activist. All three were transferred to the illegal colony of Halamish by the IOF. After several hours the international activist was released but banned from entering Nabi Saleh for 15 days. According to the Spanish activist, when he was arrested and being transported the IOF put Spanish songs on and ordered him to dance. Nariman and Rania were not released and continued to be held overnight in Halamish.
Video by Bilal Tamimi
Video by David Reeb
Video by Israel Puterman
Nabi Saleh residents reported that on the 8/9th May, Israeli settlers attempted to sneak into the village to attack the houses. However, village youth confronted the settlers in an attempting to stop them.