Haaretz: B’Tselem spokeswoman wounded by Israeli Border Police fire at West Bank protest

Sarit Michaeli, of the human rights group B’Tselem, was hit by a rubber bullet shot at close range during weekly Nabi Saleh protest.

By Chaim Levinson | Jul. 21, 2013 | Haaretz

sarit - rubber bullet - nabi salehPhotograph: Oren Ziv/Activestills

Sarit Michaeli, the spokeswoman of human rights group B’Tselem, was lightly injured during a Friday demonstration at Nabi Saleh after a Border Policeman shot her with a rubber bullet at close range.

Michaeli was videotaping the protest being held at the village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah- an event held every Friday, which is routinely dispersed by IDF forces. This week, Border Police troops belonging to the Binyamin regional command were policing the area.

“I was on the village’s main road,” said Michaeli, speaking to Haaretz. “A few youths were throwing stones. Some nine policemen and soldiers stormed the group, causing them to run away. I was standing to the side. At a certain point, one of the policemen fired a rubber bullet at me, at a range of about 15 or 20 meters. I do not know why he shot at me. I was not doing anything that could be perceived as a threat to any of the soldiers. Also, I was not in the route of the soldiers’ advance, so they had to have intentionally aimed at me or the two women standing beside me.” The bullet pierced Michaeli’s thigh, and she was evacuated to Ichilov hospital, where she is still hospitalized.

From Michaeli’s description of the events, it appears the policemen were not acting in accordance with regulation on opening fire. According to the IDF’s rules of engagement, rubber bullets are only to be used from a range of 50 meters or more, a distance at which the projectiles are meant to hit skin without penetrating it. The fact that the bullet pierced Michaeli’s thigh indicated it was shot at close range. In addition, such ammunition is not to be used during a forces’ advance- rather, being a precise weapon, aimed at specific targets pre-approved by senior officers.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office declined to comment on the matter, choosing to refer Haaretz’s inquiry to the Border Police Spokesman, who too declined to comment.

Advertisements

Photo essay: Israeli activist injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet at Nabi Saleh demonstration

19th July 2013 | International Solidarity Movement, Ramallah Team | Nabi Saleh, Occupied Palestine

 

Today, around fifty Palestinians together with Israeli and international activists marched from the centre of Nabi Saleh down the main road towards the stolen spring.

 

1003322_10201079158414600_1255272477_n

 

Protesters made barricades of burning tyres to prevent Israeli forces from raiding the village.

 

1069823_10201079166774809_731203985_n

 

Soon after that, several Israeli border police officers appeared behind a house on the right side of the main road and started shooting rubber coated steel bullets at protesters.

 

1069859_10201079173534978_1764626682_n

 

More Israeli border police then arrived at the bottom of the main road, running towards protesters and shooting more rubber coated steel bullets.

 

553372_10201079197215570_1024264192_n

 

An Israeli woman activist was shot in her upper thigh with a rubber coated steel bullet from close range and had to be taken to hospital in Tel Aviv. She underwent a very minor surgery to get the bullet removed and will remain in hospital until Sunday.

 

Israeli forces continued shooting rubber coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters from various locations inside the village.

 

1006265_10201079238336598_290154499_n

 

DSC_0424

 

According to a resident of Nabi Saleh, yesterday night at around 3am, an Israeli bulldozer was working in the spring. Settlers from Halamish also went to the spring to talk to the soldiers. Palestinian youths went to the hilltop in front of this area to see what was happening and verbal confrontations between settlers and them erupted. Israeli forces, defending the settlers as usual, shot several tear gas canisters at Palestinians.

 

Previously this week, on Tuesday, clashes between residents of Nabi Saleh and Israeli forces erupted in the same spot where Rushdi Tamimi was shot last November. Israeli forces shot rubber coated steel bullets and injured Mohammed Tamimi (10) in the leg. Mahmoud Tamimi (22) was then shot with live ammunition also in the leg. Read the full report here.

 

B’Tselem: Two Palestinian women to be tried this week for non-violent demonstration – military legal system being used to suppress legitimate protest

B’Tselem: Suspicion Military legal system being used to suppress legitimate non-violent protest

Tomorrow, Tuesday, 9 July 2013, the military court at Ofer Israeli military base will hold its first session in the trial of Nariman a-Tamimi and Rana Hamadah, who were arrested on 28 June 2013 during the weekly demonstration in the West Bank village of a-Nabi Saleh. The demonstration was not violent and there was no stone-throwing. The two Palestinian women were held at Sharon Prison in Israel for almost four days, and were then indicted for entering a closed military zone. The military prosecution rarely issues indictments for this offense. Rana Hamadah was also charged with obstructing a soldier in the execution of his duty. A foreign national arrested along with the two was released that night and barred from entering the village of a-Nabi Saleh for 15 days.

Still from video documentation of the arrests. Sarit Michaeli, B'Tselem, 28 June 2013
Still from video documentation of the arrests. Sarit Michaeli, B’Tselem, 28 June 2013

After serving the indictment, the military prosecution requested the court to remand the two women for the duration of the proceedings. Justice Maj. Shahar Greenberg denied the request, and instead ordered that the two remain under house arrest for the duration of the proceedings. Implementation of the order was delayed upon request by defense counsel Adv. Nery Ramati. President of the Military Appeals Court Col. Netanel Benisho is shortly to announce his ruling on an appeal filed in this case.

The legal proceedings since a-Tamimi and Hamada were arrested are unprecedented, given the minor nature of the offense: the indictment does not claim that the two women acted violently. Furthermore, two military judges who watched video footage of the women’s arrest stated that they had found no evidence of violent or menacing behavior on their part. During the court sessions, Military Prosecutor Maj. Gilad Peretz even acknowledged that one reason for requesting continued remand was to keep the women from participating in demonstrations – unacceptable grounds that cannot possibly warrant detention. The fact that Judea and Samaria Attorney Lieut. Col. Maurice Hirsch himself represented the prosecution at one of the court sessions further demonstrates the military prosecution’s determination to keeping the two women behind bars.

Jessica Montell, Executive Director of Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, said, “The military prosecution’s handling of the matter, and particularly its unprecedented request to remand non-violent demonstrators for the duration of the legal proceedings, raises the suspicion that the military might be exploiting these proceedings to keep Nariman a-Tamimi from carrying on her joint activity with her husband, Bassem, in a-Nabi Saleh’s struggle against the village being dispossessed of its land.” Background

Nariman a-Tamimi is a prominent activist in the struggle that residents of a-Nabi Saleh village have waged over the last three years against the Israeli occupation and against being dispossessed of their land and water spring by settlers. Her husband, Bassem a-Tamimi, served 13 months in prison after being convicted by the Ofer military court of participating in illegal demonstrations and incitement to throw stones. In November 2012 he was sentenced to an additional four months of prison time, after being arrested at a demonstration near an Israeli supermarket chain in the West Bank. The European Union has declared a-Tamimi a human rights defender. Catherine Ashton, European Union High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, voiced concern over a-Tamimi’s conviction, which was based on testimonies taken from two minors from the village, who were interrogated in violation of their rights. Nariman a-Tamimi’s brother, Rushdi, was killed by live ammunition fired by soldiers during clashes in the village in November 2012. A Military Police investigation into the circumstances of his killing is still under way. The couple has four children.

The demonstrations in a-Nabi Saleh began in December 2009 to protest the fact that settlers, apparently from the nearby settlement of Halamish, had taken over the al-Qus spring and other villager-owned lands. Israeli military and Border Police forces are stationed there to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the spring and an adjacent road, which is also used by the settlers, arguing that the demonstrators may throw stones at settlers. Often, security forces halt the demonstration before it has even left the village.

For the past three years, B’Tselem has been documenting the actions used to violently suppress the demonstrations in the village, even when demonstrators are not throwing stones. As part of this suppression, the military has been exploiting legal means such as issuing warrants declaring village lands a closed military zone on Fridays, for as long as half a year at a time, and prosecuting the organizers of the demonstrations. To date, indictments have been served only in cases of violence or incitement to violence. No such claim has been made in the case at hand.

B’Tselem: One year on, investigation into the killing of Mustafa Tamimi still not completed

by B’Tselem: 5 Dec 2012

A year after the killing of Mustafa Tamimi, resident of the West Bank village of a-Nabi Saleh, who was fatally injured in the head by a tear gas canister, B’Tselem contacted Military Advocate for Operational Matters Lt. Col. Ronen Hirsch, demanding clarification of the status of the case. The organization served notice that it intends to seek legal remedy as may be required to end the delays in pursuing this case and prevent damage to the rights of the complainants and to the criminal process.

Photographs of the firing directly at a-Tamimi, by Haim Scwarczenberg, 9 Dec. '11.
Photographs of the firing directly at a-Tamimi, by Haim Scwarczenberg, 9 Dec. ’11.

Nearly one year ago, on 9 December 2011, an Israeli soldier shot a tear gas canister at very short range at Mustafa Tamimi during a demonstration in a-Nabi Saleh. Tamimi, critically injured, was taken for treatment at Beilinson Hospital and died of his wounds the next day. On the same day the incident took place, B’Tselem submitted a complaint to the Military Police Investigations Unit in Jerusalem. The MPIU opened an investigation two days later. Nonetheless, the Advocate for Operational Matters has yet to announce a decision on whether to serve an indictment or close the case. To the best of B’Tselem’s knowledge, the investigation continues. The explanation provided to B’Tselem to justify the lengthy process is that “this is an operational inquiry, complicated and challenging, and decisions arrived at during it, which influence its duration, are taken in a matter-of-fact manner based solely on the needs of the inquiry and the quest for the truth.”

Noa Tal, Director of the Data Department at B’Tselem, noted in her letter that even had this explanation been acceptable some two months after the incident, an inquiry lasting a period of nearly one year cannot be considered reasonable. The longer the process is drawn out, the greater the damage to the prospects for an effective criminal proceeding, inter alia because some of the evidence will no longer exist and the witnesses’ recollections are liable to be less acute. Thus grave harm is done to the principle of the rule of law and the deterrent value for discouraging similar acts in the future.

B’Tselem: Soldier kills Palestinian demonstrator Mustafa Tamimi, 28, by shooting tear-gas canister at him

by B’Tselem: 11 December 2011

On Friday, 9 December 2011, the weekly demonstration was held in the village of a-Nabi Saleh, Ramallah District, against settlers’ seizure of land belonging to Palestinian villages in the area. According to B’Tselem’s information, in the early afternoon, after the main demonstration had dispersed, several young men threw stones at an army jeep. One of them was village resident Mustafa a-Tamimi. Photos taken by photographer Haim Scwarczenberg show that the jeep turned around and began to back away. A soldier sitting in the jeep then opened the back door and fired a tear-gas canister directly at a-Tamimi, who was several meters away. The canister struck Tamimi in the face, causing extensive bleeding. Shortly afterwards, the soldiers evacuated him to Beilinson Hospital, where he died the next day. B’Tselem has documented many cases in which tear-gas canisters were fired directly at people during the weekly protest in a-Nabi Saleh, including other occasions during the same demonstration, and elsewhere in the West Bank.

Photographs of the firing directly at Tamimi, by Haim Scwarczenberg, 9 Dec. '11.
Photographs of the firing directly at a-Tamimi, by Haim Scwarczenberg, 9 Dec. ’11.

For several years now, B’Tselem has been warning officials that security forces’ fire tear-gas canisters directly at persons during demonstrations. The organization has demanded – both in meetings with senior military officials and by letter – that commanders clarify to soldiers serving in the field that firing tear-gas canisters directly at a person is unlawful. Tear gas is supposed to serve as a non-lethal crowd control measure, and using it as a substitute for live fire is forbidden. Therefore, firing tear-gas canisters directly at persons breaches the rules of engagement.

Such firing has resulted in serious injury and death. In April 2009, Bassem Abu-Rahmah, from the village of Bi’lin, was killed by a tear gas canister that struck him in the chest. B’Tselem knows of 13 cases in which persons were seriously injured in similar circumstances since the beginning of the second intifada. B’Tselem has also documented direct firing of canisters that did not result in injury, and has provided the Military Advocate General Corps and the commander of Judea and Samaria Brigade with video footage of such firing.

The moment of firing at Tamimi. The rifle end can be seen emerging from the opened jeep door. The tear gas canister itself is seen against the backdrop of the left mirror. On the left, in the white shirt, is Mustafa Tamimi. Photo: Haim Scwarczenberg.
The moment of firing at a-Tamimi. The 40mm launcher end can be seen emerging from the opened jeep door. The tear gas canister itself is seen against the backdrop of the left mirror. On the left, in the white shirt, is Mustafa a-Tamimi. Photo: Haim Scwarczenberg.

In response to B’Tselem’s demands, the then-legal advisor for Judea and Samaria, Col. Sharon Afek, replied in April 2009 that, “direct firing [of tear-gas canisters] at persons is prohibited” and that, “very soon, an explicit and broad directive will be issued that will prohibit the firing of a tear-gas canister directly at a person.” In July 2011, following further requests by B’Tselem, after the direct firing continued to occur at demonstrations, Major Uri Sagi, of the office of the legal advisor for Judea and Samaria, replied that, “following your letter, we have again clarified to the forces operating in Central Command the rules relating to firing of tear-gas canisters at persons, including the prohibition on directly firing a tear-gas canister at a person.” At meetings with B’Tselem, senior military officials claimed that such firing is forbidden and does not occur.

However, B’Tselem has since documented more cases in which security forces fired tear-gas canisters directly at persons. As far as B’Tselem knows, no soldier has been prosecuted for such firing. In the abovementioned case of Abu-Rahmah, which occurred in April 2009, a Military Police investigation was opened only in July 2010, and only after B’Tselem and Attorney Micha’el Sfard threatened to petition the High Court of Justice if an investigation were not initiated.

B’Tselem wrote to the office of the military advocate for operational matters to verify that an MPIU investigation had been opened in the case of a-Tamimi, in accordance with the new policy that the MAG Corps declared before the High Court of Justice. B’Tselem demanded that the investigation examine not only the conduct of the soldier who fired the canister, but also the responsibility of the command echelon, including the orders given to the soldier.

B’Tselem will provide all the material in its possession and will follow the case to make sure the investigation is effective and professional.

Human Rights organisations B’Tselem & ACRI on the illegal suppression of protests in Nabi Saleh

video by

Following their 12-9-2011 report documenting how Occupation Forces denied residents of Nabi Saleh their right to protest and the excessive force used to suppress the protests that did occur,  B’Tselem: the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories detailed their findings in the report at a press conference in Nabi Saleh to members of the media.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) addressed the Kafkaesque rules governing the permitting and policing of protests in the West Bank and prior to the presentations, two Nabi Saleh villagers; Abu Hossam Tamimi and Bashir Tamimi discussed popular resistance to the occupation in Nabi Saleh and throughout the West Bank.

To read the  B’TSelem report, Show of Force: Israeli Military Conduct in Weekly Demonstrations in a-Nabi Saleh, click here

New York Times: Palestinians Record West Bank Protests With Cameras Supplied by Israelis

By ROBERT MACKEY: The Lede, New York Times – 17 June 2011

While journalists have found themselves scouring the Internet in search of video from protests across the Middle East recently, one protest movement, by small groups of villagers opposed to Israel’s security barrier in the West Bank, has gotten far less attention.

Even so, there is no lack of footage of the weekly protests that my colleague Isabel Kershner described last year as a sort of slow-motion, “part-time intifada.” That’s true in part because an Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, has distributed video cameras to Palestinians to make sure the demonstrations do not go undocumented.

This week, B’Tselem released a video report made from footage shot by two Palestinian residents of the town of Nabi Saleh, outside Ramallah, showing, the rights group said, the use of “disproportionate force” by Israeli officers to disperse a protest there last month.

Continue reading “New York Times: Palestinians Record West Bank Protests With Cameras Supplied by Israelis”