West Bank village punished for exposing Israel’s brutality

Nancy Murray, The Electronic Intifada

21 December 2015

Members of the Tamimi family prevent an Israeli soldier from arresting Muhammad Tamimi, 12, during the weekly protest against the occupation in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on 28 August. Muhannad Saleem ActiveStills

The small West Bank village of Nabi Saleh is paying a steep price for a video of Israeli brutality.

Widely circulated in recent months, the video shows the mother and sister of 12-year-old Muhammad Tamimi wresting him away from a masked and armed Israeli soldier. The boy was throttled and jammed into boulders on 28 August, despite having a cast on his arm.

Israeli politicians not only defended the Israeli soldier’s actions; some argued that he should have behaved in an even more cruel manner.

Miri Regev, Israel’s culture minister, said that the soldier should have shot the boy’s unarmed rescuers.

Since the incident, the Israeli army has detained scores of young men from the village and subjected them to lengthy periods of interrogation, during which abusive treatment occurred.

Seventeen are currently imprisoned, including Waed Tamimi, Muhammad’s 19-year-old brother.

Waed was arrested, along with his 20-year-old cousin Anan, during a 19 October night raid on the home of Waed’s parents, Nariman and Bassem Tamimi. Four other young men were seized by the army that same night, including Louay Tamimi, whose brother Mustafa was killed in December 2011 when a soldier fired a high velocity tear gas canister at his head from a meter away.

Bassem Tamimi, who was on a lecture tour of the US when his son was arrested, has himself been detained a dozen times. He has also been tortured and spent three years in prison without a conviction.
Defying military orders

Bassem and his cousin Naji, the father of Anan, have been recognized as human rights defenders by the European Union. In 2012, Bassem was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

The cousins have helped coordinate their village’s unarmed resistance activities. Rather than submit mutely to the confiscation of their land and freshwater spring by Israeli settlers, the residents of Nabi Saleh have for the last six years held spirited weekly demonstrations demanding an end to the Israeli occupation.

In so doing, they have defied Israeli Military Order 101, which criminalizes participation in protests, assemblies and vigils, as well as waving flags and distributing political material. Efforts to influence public opinion are prohibited as “political incitement.”

Palestinians face Israeli soldiers during the weekly protest in Nabi Saleh village in 2011. Anne Paq ActiveStills

But to Nabi Saleh residents, such military orders are inherently unjust. During his June 2011 trial for organizing demonstrations, Bassem Tamimi told the court:

“Despite claiming to be the only democracy in the Middle East, you are trying me under military laws which lack any legitimacy; laws that are enacted by authorities that I have not elected and do not represent me. I am accused of organizing peaceful civil demonstrations that have no military aspects and are legal under international law. We have the right to express our rejection of occupation in all of its forms; to defend our freedom and dignity as a people and to seek justice and peace in our land in order to protect our children and secure their future.”

Israeli and international activists have frequently joined the weekly protests in Nabi Saleh, and face an army deploying stun grenades, tear gas, skunk water, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition. Hundreds of demonstrators have been injured, some permanently, and two were killed.

Over the years, as many as 200 villagers have been detained out of a population of just over 500. All of them belong to Tamimi clan.
Why is the world silent?

At the 28 August protest, the army arrested Bassem’s 19-year-old nephew, Mahmoud. Vittorio Fera, an Italian activist, was also detained.

Fera was swiftly acquitted by an Israeli civil court from the charge of throwing stones and other objects.

Mahmoud — who faces identical charges in the military court system — has spent months now in Ofer, an Israeli prison in the West Bank, without a hearing.

For Palestinians, including children, there is no presumption of innocence and little likelihood of acquittal, given the 99.74 percent conviction rate in military courts.

Most of these convictions are a result of plea bargains, agreed to after the coercive extraction of confessions from children as well as adults. Some prisoners may be sentenced to administrative detention. Under that practice, detainees are held without charge or trial and without being told what evidence the authorities hold on them.

 

Palestinian youths from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh during a hearing at Ofer military court on 21 December. Oren Ziv ActiveStills

 

The 17 young men from Nabi Saleh may have been marooned in military prisons — where their families cannot visit them or even send them warm winter clothes — because someone from the village has been intimidated into saying who they saw throwing stones.

Two young men detained on 9 December have now been released, but Nabi Saleh families fear there will be more arrests. Israel appears bent on doing everything it can to impose collective punishment on a village that serves as the symbol of resistance to a nearly half-century-long military occupation.

As the youth await trials and anticipate years in prison, US activists have set up a Facebook page to press for their release. Bassem Tamimi, meanwhile, wonders why the international community has not taken a determined stand against Israel’s relentless repression.

“The silence of the world is worse than what the occupier is doing,” he said. “We can’t understand this silence, because our struggle is for humanity and the world is supposed to care about human rights.”

Nancy Murray, who for 25 years was director of education at the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, has worked for Palestinian rights since her first trip to the region in 1988.

Israeli Occupation Forces storm Nabi Saleh; kidnap 6 Palestinian youth

by Nabi Saleh Solidarity: 19 October 2015

Israeli Occupation Forces stormed Nabi Saleh on 19 October, kidnapping six youth from the village. Amongst those kidnapped by the Waed Tamimi, the teenage son of Bassem and Nariman Tamimi and also Anan Tamimi who is the teenage son of  Naji and Boshra Tamimi. The other four youth arrested are: Mostaf Tamimi; Osaid Tamimi; Loay Tamimi and Omar Tamimi.

 Anan Tamimi

 

 Waed Tamimi (on right)

Israeli Occupation Forces broken down a number of doors during their raids on the families houses. Photos by Manal Tamimi

***

PHOTOS: DESTRUCTION CAUSED BY IOF TO HOME OF NAJI AND BOSHRA TAMIMI DURING RAID.
– All photos by Naji and Boshra Tamimi

Naji Tamimi as he takes photos of the destruction in his house.

 Anan’s room

 

Israeli Occupation Forces storm Nabi Saleh, firing live ammunition – 6 October 2015

Photos and text by Haim Schwarczenberg: 6 October 2015

FireShot Screen Capture #101 - 'Firing live ammunition on Palestinian demonstrators - Haim Schwarczenberg' - schwarczenberg_com_firing-live-ammunition-on-palestinian-
Firing live ammunition on Palestinian demonstrators: Residents of Nabi Saleh took to the street Sunday night to protest recent escalation of Israeli violence against Palestinians. In the past three days, four Palestinian teens have been shot dead by the Israeli army and police forces, as hundreds more injured in clashes. This comes at the heels of months of progressive escalation of the violence Israel has deployed against Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Immediately after the Nabi Saleh marchers approached the nearby IDF outpost at the entrance to the village, soldiers began to shoot live ammunition at protesters. The soldiers had no other less lethal crowd control means such as tear gas or rubber bullets. This escalating violence and the mere numbers of casualties may be an indication of a dramatic shift in official policies that sanction the use of live ammunition against Palestinians. As a punitive measure, the IDF put Nabi Saleh on lockdown from around 10p last night until morning, also telling outside photojournalists they may not leave.