For background information on the I AM NABI SALEH project and exhibition, please see our earlier post (click here)
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.