7th July 2013 | International Solidarity Movement, Ramallah Team | Nabi Saleh, Occupied Palestine
The weekly protest in the village of Nabi Saleh was, as usual, met with extreme violence by Israeli forces. Tear gas canisters, rubbers coated steel bullets and skunk water were shot at unarmed protesters.
After midday prayers, over fifty Palestinians together with international and Israeli activists met in the centre of the village to march down the main road. As demonstrators walked passed the gas station, several Border police officers approached them from the hill located to the right of the road and shot several rounds of rubber coated steel bullets. When the march dispersed, the skunk water truck drove forward spraying people and homes.
The protest continued for an hour and a half during which Israeli border police were shooting demonstrators with tear gas canisters, rubber coated steel bullets and skunk water at close range.
Unlike every other Friday, Nariman Tamimi, a prominent activist from Nabi Saleh, was not able to attend the demonstration as she was in a partial house arrest. Nariman and Rana Nazzal were arrested at last week’s protest and spent three days in jail. They are accused of entering a closed military zone and had to pay 2750NIS each on bail in order to be released. The prosecution is asking for one week under house arrest. They are currently awaiting the judge’s decision.
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.
IDF arrests Nariman Tamimi at Nabi Saleh weekly protest June 28, 2013 (Activestills)
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:
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.
The hearing will include the testimony of Inspector Jalal Aweida of the Israeli Police. Inspector Aweida was one of the key interrogators of 14 year-old Islam Dar Ayyoub – Tamimi’s main incriminator. Aweida also served as one of the officers in charge of the broader investigation into the Nabi Saleh demonstrations.
In his interrogation the morning after his arrest, year-old Dar Ayyoub alleged that Bassem and Naji Tamimi organized groups of youth into “battalions”, assigned 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.
The video recording of the boy’s interrogation also shows Aweida making threatening gestures towards him – that included Karate moves and punching his fist into his hand, mocking him, making sexual innuendo in regards to Islam and the female police officer who was in the room. The video also shows Islam bursting into tears halfway through the interrogation as well as nearly collapsing of tiredness.
Tamimi’s trial began more than nine months ago, which Tamimi has spent behind lock and key.
Dozens participated in this week’s demonstration in Nabi Saleh against the theft of its lands and spring by the Halamish Israeli settlement and the Israeli occupation that sustains it. Nabi Saleh residents, other Palestinians, and international and Israeli supporters marched peacefully from the center of the village.
This demonstration followed days of Israeli complete siege over the village and a massive night raid, resulting in the arrest of three people from the village.
As always, a peaceful demonstration met with Israeli army attack. Volleys of tear gas canisters were shot on the entire demonstration from a cannon installed on Israeli military jeeps. Sole canisters were also shoot by Israeli soldiers directly at people, in violation of their army’s own regulations. Israeli forces used their “skunk” track, carrying a foul-smelling water cannon. This time the “skunk” wondered around the village and sprayed houses in a blatant unlawful repressive measure.
Few people also threw stones to ward off the Israeli army’s incursion. A group of people managed to approach the soldiers, despite threats of arrests.
One youth was injured in the forehead by Israeli rubber coated bullet. He was helped into an ambulance that took him to hospital.
28 July 2011: Popular Struggle Coordination Committee
Settlers and the military have violently attacked the village of Nabi Saleh three times in the past week, burning fields, shooting live ammunition and raiding houses in the village.
Following a fire that burned through fields belonging to residents of Nabi Saleh near the Jewish-only settlement of Halamish on the afternoon of Monday the 25th, armed settlers blocked the adjacent main road, using violence to prevent the passage of Palestinian cars.
A family of four was viciously attacked, causing injury to an old woman and a 19 year-old woman, who went into shock.
video by Sabarna Press
As Palestinians started gathering, Israeli soldiers who were present at the scene reacted by trying to push them away and back to the village instead of removing the settlers, eventually invading the village. The soldiers shot immense astounding of tear-gas, rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition at houses and people in the village, luckily causing no injuries. The incursion finally ended at 11 PM when the soldiers left.
The following day, Tuesday the 26th, at roughly 2 in the afternoon, settlers tired to set fire to an olive grove belonging to a farmer from Nabi Saleh. As youth from the village noticed the settlers and quickly descended from the hilltop village to stop the fire, armed settlers open fire on them from automatic assault rifles.
The army, in turn, then staged another incursion into the village – the second in two days – again using immense amounts of tear-gas and live ammunition. Armored military vehicles went in and out of Nabi Saleh for no foreseeable reason. As the sun started setting over the village, soldiers took over a house in the center of the village. One of the tear-gas projectiles shot by the soldiers shattered a window in one of the village’s houses and set fire to the mattresses it landed on.
Clashes between soldiers and local youth continued sporadicly until the soldiers left shortly after 9 PM.
No disturbances were recorded on Wednesday, until the Israeli army staged a night raid on the village at 1:30 in the AM of Thursday the 28th. The soldiers raided and searched the houses of imprisoned village leaders Bassem and Naji Tamimi, as well as that of Mahmoud Tamimi without showing a search warrant. While in Mahmoud Tamimi’s house, the force’s commander threatened him that raids will be held nightly until “troubles” in the village cease and desist. Clashes, again involving the use of live ammunition by the army continued through the night, until the soldiers left shortly before sun rise.
He ran towards us with a black piece of cloth wrapped around his mouth and nose, I could see his red eyes were about to pop out. He handed my mom something, and pushed a smelly “thing” in my face; it smelled like onion, but I couldn’t tell for sure.
I was only 4 years old when I experienced tear gas for the first time. I was confused–my blurry eyes didn’t help, nor did my runny nose. I was worried about choking. I looked up at my Mom, saw nothing but a blurry figure of her; I later on found out she was smelling an onion too. I wanted to speak to her, say to her, “mom, help me, I can’t breathe….”
My heart rate goes up, I can feel it; I feel the beat in my eyes, my head is about to explode. My mom’s arms are around me now, she pulls me up and starts running. Someone stops us and I feel the exchange of my tiny body from mom’s arms to someone else’s arms. I remember disliking the exchange but had no energy to speak up.
I later regain my sight. I wonder what it is, this cool place with no smelly stuff. A group of people are all sitting on the floor smelling onions too. Why onions?? My little brain wonders if it’s some sort of onion festival.
We were walking toward the main taxi station in Nablus city, my hand holding tight to my mom’s when we saw some “Shabab” running around, screaming: “Run… Run, they are coming this way!” My mom’s steps started getting faster and faster. Less than thirty seconds later, she stops to look down at me; my eyes lose it, I feel sick and the onion comes in.
That was my first experience of gas canisters and the “amazing feeling of it”. Twenty years later, here I am in Nabi Saleh, Bilin and Qalandia checkpoint, hand in hand with fellow friends. The feeling is different. Although tear gas does not feel any better, now it’s different–my feeling of it is different.
Having met a group of young Palestinians who share my thoughts, my beliefs on the non-violent struggle, and seeing them dedicated to the cause of freedom and justice for our beloved Palestine, invokes in me an exotic positive feeling in mind and soul.
On Friday, 29 April, the regular An Nabi Saleh demonstration against the Halamish settlement and occupation managed to cross the main village road and towards its spring. Israeli occupation forces attacked the non-violent demonstrators with stun grenades and tear gas canisters on numerous occasions, shooting directly at people and houses inside a populated area. One house was hit by tear gas canister and set on fire.
Later that day a “Skunk” truck came and started shooting its foul water at peaceful demonstrators and houses. Three Israeli supporters of the village were detained for a few hours, two of which were deliberately rubbed by soldiers on the road as it was wet from the foul water. This foul water render houses who are targeted by it unfit for living for about a week, and foul-smelling for many months. It was used extensively at the entrance to the village’s built area, a place where all residents pass through as they exit the village.