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When non-violence is criminal: Palestinian women stand trial for West Bank protest

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.

Nariman Tamimi and Rana Hamadah being arrested in Nabi Saleh June 28, 2013 (B’Tselem)

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:

Related posts on +972:
Amnesty International calls for release of Bassem Tamimi, prisoner of conscience
Nabi Saleh: A tiny village’s struggle against occupation
IMAGE: Unarmed protester shot to death by IDF

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Since any form of successful protest implies a later advance, the military punishes present protest to prevent future advances. All autonomy of action becomes a crime: everything not compulsory is forbidden. One becomes afraid of the life of the occupied as such, precisely because the occupier would itself refuse the conditions it is imposing. And, when afraid, we all can become brutal. The resolve shown in resistence angers because we would hope to have such resolve if in the same circumstance. In that anger and fear is our common ground.

      Reply to Comment
    2. BaladiAkka1948

      The great intellectual Danny Ayalon coined ‘diplomatic terrorism’ about the Palestinians going to the UN.
      I guess Nariman at-Tamimi and Rana Hamadah will be charged with ‘pacifist terrorism’ or as Gideon Levy once wrote ‘guilty of being Arabs’.

      Reply to Comment
    3. mark

      where is our enlighted Kolumn with his “defensible border” fairy tales?

      Reply to Comment
    4. The Trespasser

      There is no such thing as “basic human right to protest”.

      Reply to Comment
      • Joe

        Soldiers come and arbritarily remove you from your house. Then arbitrarily declare your village a closed military zone. Then declare that you are not a citizen of their country but can still be charged by their (apparently arbitary) rules.

        Would you not also protest? Given that these women clearly were not violent, what would you suggest they should do? What exactly would you do in the circumstances?

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          Your view of events is one-sided, so to say.

          For instance, you missed out parts where I denied parents of these soldiers peaceful coexistence on equal basis (during last millenia or so), refused to declare own state for five consecutive times (1919, 1948, 2000, 2002, 2008) and unleashed wave of terror in response to the peace initiative (2000).

          Whether I’d protest or not is a bit irrelevant to the fact that there is no “basic human right to protest”

          What I would do in their circumstances?

          What about electing a legitimate government which would clearly denounce violence and would accept the fact that the Jewish state is here to stay?

          Reply to Comment
          • tod

            Peaceful coexistence is an empty word if you want impose your presence through an avodah ivrit approach preventing the local majority to access their own natural resources sine die. Go to study, you don’t have any clue about this issue.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >Peaceful coexistence is an empty word if you want impose your presence through an avodah ivrit approach preventing the local majority to access their own natural resources sine die.

            So many words, so little (if any) sense.

            Jews were denied equal rights and peaceful coexistance LONG before the very phrase “avoda ivrit” was coined.

            Also, it is a bit unclear on what basis local resources had became the private property of a certain group of people and access to what resources can be denied if jobs which never existed are created.

            In 1930, after multiple Arab massacres and riots, British had concluded that Arabs are not able to create jobs and Jews are responsible for that.

            “There can be no doubt that there is at present time serious unemployment among Arab craftsmen and among Arab laborers.”

            Especially worthy is the notion that Arabs kept coming to Palestine despite high unemployment.

            “The Chief Immigration Officer has brought to notice that illicit immigration through Syria and across the northern frontier of Palestine is material. This question has already been discussed. It may be a difficult matter to ensure against this illicit immigration, but steps to this end must be taken if the suggested policy is adopted, as also to prevent unemployment lists being swollen by immigrants from TransJordania”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hope_Simpson_Report

            >Go to study, you don’t have any clue about this issue.

            Dude, it is really not in your position to tell me what I know and what I don’t in the light of fact that you don’t know shit about pretty much anything.

            Reply to Comment
          • Joe

            That is rubbish, there is a fundamental right to protest.

            Also you appear to hold this individual to an impossible standard – namely that she should personally carry the weight of all the wrongs of history.

            This is ridiculous nonsense. Get a braincell.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >That is rubbish, there is a fundamental right to protest.

            Nope.

            >Also you appear to hold this individual to an impossible standard – namely that she should personally carry the weight of all the wrongs of history.

            By your logic, people who would associate themselves with the Nazi party – Neonazis, for instance – should not be persecuted.

            Reply to Comment
    5. The Lionking

      With the rest of the Middle East in chaos, Israel now even has more freedom to continue to abuse innocent Palestinians. They’ve always done what ever they damn please anyway without being held accou table by anyone, as if Palestinians simply do not existing as a people. But now, no one is paying attention. Israel has never felt “safer” since the so called arab spring!

      Reply to Comment
    6. The Trespasser

      >as if Palestinians simply do not existing as a people

      As a matter of fact, “Palestinians” do not exist as “people”, despite all attempts.

      Reply to Comment
      • Darius

        The comment above me by “The Trespasser” is a clear example of the war on language.
        Do not fall for the way these issues get framed by supporters and apologists for injustice.
        Do not get wound up in their semantics. Do no take the bait of their arguments and let them determine which direction the discourse and dialogue will lead.
        I don’t care how it is framed, or defended through faulty logic and reasoning.
        “Palestinians do not exist as [a] ‘people,’” is how they mask their racism toward a fellow human being.
        Forget nationalities and laws…such a statement is equivalent to saying a group of people are not HUMAN. And that is how Palestinians get treated in Israel.

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          >I don’t care how it is framed, or defended through faulty logic and reasoning.

          You don’t care about facts, that’s the point.

          If the logic and reasoning were faulty, one should easily be able to find arguments to defy faulty claims. Yet, you could not produce anything but some pseudo-humanitarian mumbling. Why is that?

          >Forget nationalities and laws…such a statement is equivalent to saying a group of people are not HUMAN

          That is in your sick mind, maybe, however in real life these statements are not quite equal.

          For example, a group of people might declare themselves as “Martian Gerbils”.
          Would such statement turn them into “Martian Gerbils”?
          No.

          Would other’s refusal to perceive these people as “Martian Gerbils” also mean that they are not perceived as human beings?
          No.

          So, who’s logic and reasoning is faulty?

          Reply to Comment
          • Joe

            For example, a group of people might declare themselves as “Martian Gerbils”.
            Would such statement turn them into “Martian Gerbils”?
            No.”

            Actually, it probably would. On what basis would you deny it?

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            On factual basis.

            Reply to Comment
    7. Darius

      “You shall not wrong or oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourself been strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Shemot 23:9)

      The oppressed become the oppressor.

      In this world…”everything becomes its opposite.” Maulana

      Reply to Comment
    8. rsgengland

      Maybe these two ladies should go and sample how their “right to protest” is respected in all the Arab ‘Democracies’ surrounding Israel.
      That should make for some interesting reading.
      Maybe the Palestinians should vote for a new administration that is capable of negotiating a peace, then we can begin to see an end to these incidents.
      And the first and foremost issue to discuss will be the Arab and Jewish refugees! Of course!

      Reply to Comment
      • rose

        Rsgengland, stupid comparison, Syrians (just an example) are fighting against a Syrian dictator, while palestinians are fighting against a foreign army that already took most of their land. Don’t try to justify an immoral oppression.

        Reply to Comment
        • rsgengland

          There is no such thing as “the right to protest”.
          Protesting is a privilege, and a recent one at that.
          In most countries of our gloriously varied planet, protesters get very short thrift; many actually getting killed or maimed along the way.
          Whether anyone likes comparisons, they are the normal litmus test to measure one action against another; and this applies to every single thing and/or issue on our planet.
          And Israel, by any measure,is a long, long way from being the worst, no matter which way you want to pitch it.

          Reply to Comment
      • carl

        Pals dont have any responsability for Jewish refugees from other parts of the world (Iraq, US, the Moon…ect)

        Reply to Comment
      • The Tamimi family live in Nabi Saleh and they are fighting for their rights in Nabi Saleh, nowhere else. By your logic, I can never protest against any aspect of UK government policy ever, because someone somewhere in the world has it worse. (And the same applies to you.) Secondly, you as citizen with full civil rights under the law have absolutely no business in telling women under military law that they should be grateful for what they get.

        Reply to Comment
      • P.S. And do you seriously think that a regime that makes it illegal to protest (a protest is loosely defined as a gathering of more than ten, usually) without getting permission from the military rulers is going to permit a free political process? There is a reason why grassroots leaders – the Tamimi women are a fine case in point – often find themselves in handcuffs. You are basically arguing that the Palestinians really do have the political independence needed to be politically independent, they just choose not to use it, and consequently the army is forced to declare their villages as closed military zones whenever they want to restrict people’s movement/clear people out. (And it is done on at random – it was one of the first phrases I picked up in Hebrew because of their habit of announcing it while brandishing a hastily written post-it note. While standing in the middle of somebody’s front yard.)

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          Palestinians demonstrating against Israeli presence have nothing whatsoever to do with political processes inside Palestine.

          I’m rather certain that IDF would give a permit to protest against corrupt and impotent Palestinian government, but such protests hardly ever take place. Why is that?

          Reply to Comment
          • Protests against the PA have happened often and been quite stormy, so that’s a moot point. Seriously, do you not remember the outcry against the PA’s economic policy just a few months back? The mobs of people in the streets? The support that the IDF provided in trying to quash those demos? The army doesn’t easily permit protests against its puppets, and even if it did, your apparent acceptance of the idea that Nabi Saleh residents could apply *to the Israeli military governor* for permission to protest against *the PA* reveals what a fiction this supposed autonomy is anyway.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >Protests against the PA have happened often and been quite stormy, so that’s a moot point.

            How often? I could only find references to Autumn 2012 protests, which, by the way, were economical and not political.

            >The support that the IDF provided in trying to quash those demos?

            That I can’t recall.

            >The army doesn’t easily permit protests against its puppets

            I’ve heard the opinion that PNA are Israel’s puppets, but it hardly make any sense – Palestinian statehood bid in UN efficiently proves the contrary.

            >and even if it did, your apparent acceptance of the idea that Nabi Saleh residents could apply *to the Israeli military governor* for permission to protest against *the PA* reveals what a fiction this supposed autonomy is anyway.

            Autonomy is not quite the same as sovereignty, and in the light of outcome of recent experiment with the Palestinian sovereignty in Gaza, it is better for everyone to keep status quo.

            Reply to Comment
          • Joe

            Crazy talk. If someone is held in inhumane conditions in prison, they’ve as much right to protest about the reasons for them being in the prison as to protest against individual guards or other prisoners.

            Fortunately, nobody is under any obligation to ask your permission to do anything, given that you don’t hold an opinion worth discussing.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >If someone is held in inhumane conditions in prison, they’ve as much right to protest about the reasons for them being in the prison ….

            Silly analogy. Criminals have no right to protect against their containment in a prison.

            >Fortunately, nobody is under any obligation to ask your permission to do anything, given that you don’t hold an opinion worth discussing.

            Yeah. Exactly like no-one is under an obligation to ask for your permission.

            Yeah, by the way – spare me the hassle and don’t object my opinion, which is not worthy discussion, as you had said.

            Reply to Comment
    9. shmuel

      People like Trespasser should be in prison and not on sites like this one.
      He is simply ignorant and an extremist.
      He does not any basic historical knowledge and it’s obvious that he is a desperate human being.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Apparently, I’m not as ignorant as you’d like me to be, given that you could not dispel any of my claims.

        Reply to Comment
    10. Joe

      In this, and many other things, our friend Trespasser is wrong: there is a basic right to peaceful protest. The UDHR article 20 discusses the right to peaceful assembly.

      The UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ratified by Israel in 1991 gives additional individual rights to expression, assembly and political opinion.

      Moreover, court cases in many have used these and other foundational documents to argue for a fundamental right to protest.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Universal Declaration of Human Rights

        Article 20

        1 – Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

        2 – No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

        Obviously,
        1 – Peaceful assembly is not quite the same as peaceful protests
        2 – It is not provided anywhere that anyone have a right for “peaceful assembly” at any given location.

        Reply to Comment
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