An Israeli military court ruled today to keep 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi and her mother Nariman in prison until the end of their trial. Ahed, a well-known Palestinian activist was detained a month ago after a video was published online of Ahed slapping and hitting two Israeli soldiers, yelling at them to leave her family’s property.
The Tamimi family from Nabi Saleh are well known activists who have led non-violent protests against the illegal Israeli military occupation for nearly a decade. Ahed’s father Bassem was previously arrested nine times and spent four years in prison where he was tortured. He spent 14 months in jail simply waiting for a trial, which was repeatedly postponed. Bassem told Mondoweiss that he won’t be surprised if the same happens to Ahed and Nariman with the goal of detaining them for as long as possible.
“I expect the worst from the occupation,” Bassem told Mondoweiss.
“Honestly, we can’t expect anything else from the court; the court is a component of this occupation. It’s used by the legal system to punish the Palestinians.”
“They target all Palestinians… they want to show the world that, ‘We just punish those who resist.’ That’s not true. They punish all Palestinians because they’re Palestinians and they exist. This is a genocide since 1948,” Bassem said.
Nariman was previously arrested five times before this most recent arrest. Over the years Tamimi family members have been killed by Israeli forces and many have been arrested including Bassem and Nariman’s son who was arrested twice.
“This is life under occupation. I think we represent and show the real suffering of Palestinians under occupation,” Bassem said. “This is the real image.”
Ahed could be remanded for up to a year with possible extensions and Nariman could face up to a year and a half.
Before the decision was announced in the court room, former head of military prosecution Maurice Hirsch reportedly handed out printed NGO Monitor leaflets praising the decision to the press.
In Israeli military courts, there is a 99.7 per cent conviction rate of Palestinians brought before them. Judges and prosecutors are always military personnel and defendants are always Palestinian.
According to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, a remand should be the exception to the rule, since during the time of legal proceedings, the detainee is not serving a prison sentence and is supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
However, with military courts in the West Bank, remand is almost always approved. The practice serves as an incentive for defendants to plead guilty and to sign plea bargains even if they’re innocent. If they go to trial while in custody, they may spend more time in prison than they would be sentenced to in a plea bargain.
“Consequently, the judges’ decision to approve remand is tantamount to a conviction – as the case is decided once the person is remanded, rather than based on the evidence,” B’Tselem stated in a press release. “Pretrial approval of remand in custody of people who have not yet been convicted, as standard practice, effectively empties the judicial process of meaning.
“This so-called justice system is one of the most offensive mechanisms employed under Israel’s occupation regime. Its goal is not to serve truth and justice, but to preserve Israel’s control over the Palestinian people. This is true of the Tamimi family – and of thousands of others.”
Ahed’s next hearing is scheduled for January 31 while Nariman and Nour will have their hearing in February.