Amnesty International: A Tiny Village With A Big Voice

By Amnesty International: November/December 2013

 

To read the full Amnesty International feature on Nabi Saleh (p 7 & 8), please click here.

amnesty nabi saleh feature

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Amnesty International – Israel: Stop judicial ‘bullying’ of Palestinian activists

Nariman Tamimi has suffered arrests and raids on her home and her husband, Bassem, has been jailed at least twice. Nariman Tamimi has suffered arrests and raids on her home and her husband, Bassem, has been jailed at least twice.Photo by: AHMAD GHARABLI
“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.”
Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Director.

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.

One Palestinian Village Obama Should Visit

by Sunjeev Bery: Amnesty International USA: 21 March 2013

Former prisoner of conscience Bassem Tamimi holds plastic and rubber-coated bullets fired by Israeli forces.

Former prisoner of conscience Bassem Tamimi holds plastic and rubber-coated bullets fired by Israeli forces.

Yesterday morning, US President Barack Obama arrived in Israel to much fanfare.  He has said that he has come to listen.  One place he should start is the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

I visited Nabi Saleh last week as part of an Amnesty International research mission to the West Bank.  The village sits atop a hill, facing the illegal Israeli settlement Halamish.  The settlers of Halamish, like so many other Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), are backed by the lethal force of the Israeli army.

For protesting against the settlement, the residents of Nabi Saleh have paid a heavy price.  I spoke with village resident Bassem Tamimi, a man who Amnesty International previously declared a prisoner of conscience when he was imprisoned by Israel for involvement in peaceful protests.  During Bassem’s most recent jail term, his brother-in-law Rushdi Tamimi, 31, was shot by Israeli soldiers at another protest in November 2012 and died days later in a hospital.  In December 2011, another member of the village, Mustafa Tamimi, died after being hit in the face by a tear gas canister fired at close range from an Israeli military jeep.

 

The village of Nabi Saleh is home to some 500 members of the extended Tamimi family.  The villagers say that the expanding Israeli settlement of Halamish has blocked their access to a nearby source of water, a spring.  For holding weekly protests against this settlement, they have suffered greatly at the hands of the Israeli Defense Forces.

Israeli military law imposed in the occupied West Bank places sweeping and arbitrary restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly.  This makes any unauthorized peaceful protest by Palestinians a criminal offence. Palestinians engaging in such protests face arrest and excessive force from the Israeli military on a regular basis.

All of this becomes quite clear when visiting homes in Nabi Saleh.  Bassem Tamimi filled his hands for me with some of the plastic and rubber-coated bullets he has collected which were fired by Israeli forces in the village. Coatings aside, each bullet I examined had a hard metal interior.

Inside one of the Tamimi homes, a coffee table serves as an exhibit of used tear gas canisters and other spent munitions. And as I walked up and down the streets of this small community, residents had strung up countless more used tear gas canisters like Christmas tree ornaments.

The Tamimis have experienced this tragedy because they dare to protest against Israeli settlements. Since 1967, Israel has established some 150 illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The settler population has now grown to over half a million Israelis.

In opposing the settlements, the residents of Nabi Saleh have international law on their side.  A policy of settling civilians in occupied territory –  such as Israel’s settlement policy –  is a serious violation of the laws of war. It can be prosecuted as a war crime under the statute of the International Criminal Court.

While in Israel and the West Bank, President Obama would be wise to listen to Bassem Tamimi and other Palestinians about life in the shadow of settlements and the Israeli army.  But listening is not enough.  The US government must actively support Palestinians in their opposition to these illegal Israeli policies.

That means that the Obama administration must insist on a complete freeze on Israeli settlement construction, instead of calling on Palestinians to resume negotiations with Israel first, as Obama did earlier today.  This would be a first step to the total evacuation of all Israeli settlements from the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem.

Without such a clear approach, the daily human rights violations and displacement that Palestinians face because of Israeli settlements will only get worse.  Israel’s new defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon, is reported to oppose any limits on settlement construction.  Israel’s new housing minister, Uri Ariel, is himself a settler.  Without significant international pressure, Amnesty International fears that the new Israeli government will simply continue building illegally on occupied land and using excessive – and sometimes lethal – military force against Palestinians who get in the way.

President Obama must move beyond diplomatic pleasantries during his visit to Israel and the West Bank.  He should bluntly address Israel’s settlement policy and the devastation to Palestinian life that lies in its wake.  Bassem Tamimi, the villagers of Nabi Saleh, and Palestinians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories deserve no less.

Amnesty International urges Israel to free prisoner of conscience, Bassem Tamimi

by Maan News: 28 November 2012

bassem arrest -bds action wb
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Amnesty International on Wednesday urged Israel to release a non-violent demonstrator who was detained in mid-November in the occupied West Bank.

The group expressed concern for Nabi Saleh’s Bassem Tamimi, “a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression”, and called for his release.

Tamimi was sentenced to four months in prison in early November for his part in a demonstration a month earlier. He was charged with “interference with the work of a police officer” and “participation in an unlicensed demonstration.”

Amnesty is also urging Israeli authorities to carry out “prompt and independent” investigations into the killing of Rushdi Tamimi and Hamdi Fallah in the West Bank during the latest Gaza assault.

Rushdi Tamimi died of injuries sustained at a demonstration in Nabi Saleh on Nov. 17. Israeli soldiers shot Fallah dead at a demonstration in Hebron on Nov. 19.

 

Palestinian prisoner of conscience Bassem Tamimi speaks out

by Amnesty International: 2 November 2012

Weekly demonstrations began on 9 December 2009. Every Friday residents of al-Nabi Saleh and solidarity activists gather around noon in the village centre and march peacefully towards the spring. They have been met repeatedly with unnecessary and excessive force by the Israeli army including the use of stun grenades, pepper spray, batons and guns.

Demonstrations are dispersed as soon as they begin and are usually not allowed to reach the spring. The Israeli army raids the village regularly, usually during the night, and conducts house searches and arrests, including the arrest of children under the age of 15.

Israeli military laws in place in the West Bank impose sweeping and arbitrary restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, requiring people to obtain advance permission from the Israeli military for any proposed gathering of 10 or more persons “for a political purpose of for a matter that could be interpreted as political”.

Nariman Tamimi told Amnesty International that in al-Nabi Saleh and all areas where there is popular resistance, police use extreme violence, noting that “there is nothing [to the protests] except that you chant and express your opinion.”

As one of the organizers of the al-Nabi Salneh protests and a coordinator of the village’s popular committee, Bassem Tamimi and his family have been the target of harsh treatment by the Israeli army.

Since the demonstrations began, his house has been raided and ransacked numerous times. His wife has been arrested twice and two of his children have been injured — Wa’ed was in hospital for five days after he was hit in the leg by a rubber bullet and Mohammed was injured by a tear-gas canister that was shot directly at him and hit him in the shoulder.

Bassem Tamimi has been arrested by the Israeli army 11 times to date, though he has only once been convicted by a military court – on charges that Amnesty International believes were unfounded.

Amnesty International: Israeli soldiers arrest son of detained Palestinian activist at West Bank protest

by Amnesty International: 2 November 2012

Israeli soliders arrested 16-year-old Wa’ed Tamimi at a demonstration in the village of al-Nabi SalehIsraeli soliders arrested 16-year-old Wa’ed Tamimi at a demonstration in the village of al-Nabi Saleh

The 16-year-old son of Bassem Tamimi, a detained Palestinian rights activist in the occupied West Bank, was himself arrested by Israeli soldiers today during the regular weekly protest against the encroachment of Israeli settlers onto Palestinian land.

Wa’ed Tamimi was arrested along with four activists during the demonstration on Friday afternoon in the West Bank village of al-Nabi Saleh, 21km northwest of Ramallah.

“Today’s arrest of Wa’ed Tamimi while he was walking peacefully in his village points to the continuing harassment of activist Bassem Tamimi, his family, and the community of al-Nabi Saleh by Israeli military forces,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director. “This harassment must stop”.

“Wa’ed Tamimi and the four others arrested in al-Nabi Saleh today must be allowed access to lawyers and should be released immediately unless they are to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence. His father Bassem is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for peacefully protesting Israel’s illegal settlement expansion, and must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

Nariman Tamimi told Amnesty International how she witnessed her son’s arrest: “I saw him being dragged violently by a soldier who immediately put him in a jeep,” she said. “Right now I am very tired and worried, and I am not sure what to do.”

Wa’ed Tamimi was taken to the police station in Sha’ar Benyamin settlement north of Ramallah.

Bassem Tamimi has been detained since his arrest on 24 October following a non-violent demonstration in a supermarket in the settlement of Sha’ar Benjamin. He faces a further prison sentence after appearing before the Ofer Military Court on Wednesday.

All Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal under international law. Amnesty International is calling for their construction and expansion to stop as a first step towards removing the Israeli civilians living there.

Amnesty International: Israeli authorities must release Palestinian prisoner of conscience in West Bank

by Amnesty International: 1 November 2012

Nariman Tamimi, Bassem's wife said that "the police were brutal" during his arrestNariman Tamimi, Bassem’s wife said that “the police were brutal” during his arrest© Private

Once again, Bassem Tamimi is being held solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and assembly. We believe he is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally.

Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Programme Director
Thu, 01/11/2012

The Israeli military authorities must end their campaign of harassment, intimidation and arbitrary detention against a Palestinian activist in the occupied West Bank, Amnesty International said.

Bassem Tamimi, who has been detained since his arrest at non-violent protest against the encroachment of Israeli settlers onto Palestinian land last week, faces a further prison sentence after appearing before the Ofer Military Court on Wednesday.

“Once again, Bassem Tamimi is being held solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and assembly. We believe he is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

Tamimi was arrested on 24 October following a non-violent demonstration in a supermarket in Sha’ar Benjamin settlement north of Ramallah. More than 100 protesters had gathered to call for an end to the occupation and a boycott of all Israeli products.

He faces charges of assaulting a police officer, participation in an unlicensed demonstration, and activity against the public order.

If convicted of either of the latter two “offences”, he will also have to serve one or more suspended sentences from a previous trial: two months for participation in an unlicensed demonstration, and 17 months for “activity against the public order”.

After viewing footage of the protest, the military judge ruled that he should be released to house arrest for the duration of legal proceedings. The military prosecution is appealing this decision, and he remains at Ofer prison.

Tamimi was previously sentenced in May 2012 to 13 months in prison for his role in organizing regular non-violent protests against Israeli settlements in the West Bank. At the time, Amnesty International considered him to be a prisoner of conscience, and called for his immediate and unconditional release.
The establishment and expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank violates international humanitarian law.

Violent arrest

According to eyewitness and media reports, as the protesters left the supermarket on 24 October they were beaten by Israeli police and security forces who also fired stun grenades.

Bassem’s wife Nariman Tamimi attended the protest and told Amnesty International: “The police were brutal during the arrest. They threw Bassem on the ground and pressed him down while putting the cuffs on his hands. Anyone who tried to approach them was beaten up. The police seemed scared and nervous. They wanted to make arrests fast.”

Despite the police use of unnecessary and excessive force, the military prosecution has charged Bassem Tamimi with assault, based on the testimony of one police officer who alleges that the activist hit him on the hand.

Amnesty International spoke to witnesses and reviewed numerous videos from the protest, and found no evidence that he or the other protesters used violence. Tamimi is committed to non-violent resistance and has a long record of peaceful protest. Another Palestinian protester, now released on bail, faces similar charges.

Tamimi managed to contact his wife after his arrest.

“He still had his phone with him, he told me that he was in a cell somewhere, and he said that he felt like there was something broken in chest, he said ‘I cannot move or breathe and I am very tired’. Then they took the phone away so we could not talk more,” she told Amnesty International.

Encroachment of settlers

Bassem Tamimi is from the West Bank village of al-Nabi Saleh, 21km northwest of Ramallah.

In July 2008 Israeli settlers from nearby Halamish began to use the Qaws spring, which is on al-Nabi Saleh land and used to irrigate crops there and in the nearby village of Deir Nitham. In February 2009 settlers began to build structures on the spring site.

The Palestinians complained that settlers were building on private Palestinian land, and that the work damaged other property including trees. Israeli police routinely close Palestinian complaints against settlers due to “lack of evidence”.

Israel’s Civil Administration, the military body which controls most of the West Bank, prohibits Palestinians from visiting the Qaws spring site in groups and on Fridays, while settlers are allowed unfettered access.

Ongoing demonstrations

Weekly demonstrations began on 9 December 2009. Every Friday residents of al-Nabi Saleh and solidarity activists gather around noon in the village centre and march peacefully towards the spring. They have been met repeatedly with unnecessary and excessive force by the Israeli army including the use of stun grenades, pepper spray, batons and guns.

Demonstrations are dispersed as soon as they begin and are usually not allowed to reach the spring. The Israeli army raids the village regularly, usually during the night, and conducts house searches and arrests, including the arrest of children under the age of 15.

Israeli military laws in place in the West Bank impose sweeping and arbitrary restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, requiring people to obtain advance permission from the Israeli military for any proposed gathering of 10 or more persons “for a political purpose or for a matter that could be interpreted as political”.

Nariman Tamimi told Amnesty International that in al-Nabi Saleh and all areas where there is popular resistance, police use extreme violence, noting that “there is nothing [to the protests] except that you chant and express your opinion.”

As one of the organizers of the al-Nabi Saleh protests and a coordinator of the village’s popular committee, Bassem Tamimi and his family have been the target of harsh treatment by the Israeli army.

Since the demonstrations began, his house has been raided and ransacked numerous times. His wife has been arrested twice and two of his children have been injured – Wa’ed was in hospital for five days after he was hit in the leg by a rubber bullet and Mohammed was injured by a tear-gas canister that was shot directly at him and hit him in the shoulder.

Bassem Tamimi has been arrested by the Israeli army 11 times to date, though he has only once been convicted by a military court – on charges that Amnesty International believes were unfounded.