Yifat Doron says she slapped the IDF prosecutor to defend her friend. ‘We are not punished the same way the Palestinians are for the same actions.’
A few minutes before an Israeli military court sentenced teenager Ahed Tamimi to eight months in prison, an Israeli activist, Yifat Doron, approached the military prosecutor, shouted “who are you to judge her?” and slapped the lieutenant colonel across the head.
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Doron was released on her own recognizance just two days after being arrested for slapping the prosecutor in March of last year. Tamimi had been denied bail for four months while awaiting trial, also for slapping an Israeli soldier a few months earlier.
Ahed is Palestinian. Yifat is Israeli. Ahed was put into Israel’s military court system. Yifat —despite slapping a military officer in the occupied West Bank, just like Ahed — was charged in a civilian court inside Israel.
When Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, it applied military law to the territory. Technically, military law and the military court system have jurisdiction over Palestinians and Israelis alike in the occupied territory. In practice, a Palestinian and an Israeli who commit the exact same crime in the exact same territory are subject to different laws, different legal procedures, are tried in different courts, and are given different rights and protections.
Unlike Ahed’s slap, which was the subject of headlines around the world, and seemingly embarrassed the Israeli military establishment and national pride, there was no video documentation of Doron’s act.
Her trial, for assaulting a public servant under aggravated circumstances, began at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court last Tuesday. The prosecution is asking for prison time.
Outside the courtroom in Jerusalem last week, Doron said that she wasn’t trying to make a political statement when she slapped the Israeli officer last year: “The way I see it, this was in reaction to seeing my friend in distress.” Nevertheless, she added, what followed was an example of apartheid.
“We are not punished the same way the Palestinians are punished for the same actions,” she explained.
Doron is representing herself in the trial.
“Because the arrest happened in a political context, I have no interest in entering into all kinds of legal arguments,” she said of her decision to decline counsel. “I’m going to represent myself politically — I understand politics.”
The legal system is one of the primary tools Israel uses to oppress Palestinians, Doron added, and she hopes to make the trial about that. She particularly hopes to highlight the disparate ways Palestinians and Israelis are treated in the dual, separate legal systems.
Doron will not oppose the prosecution’s request to imprison her, she said. “There are people who accept imprisonment peacefully, like many of my Palestinian friends, who experience the reality of imprisonment, either personally or through their loved ones, on a daily basis.” Prison is simply a part of their lives, she explains.
Over the past few years, Doron visited the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh almost every week. She participated in the village’s regular demonstrations against the occupation, and attended the funerals of Palestinian residents killed by Israeli forces for protesting illegal settlement expansions. Dozens of people from Nabi Saleh, including minors, have been arrested and sent to prison for their involvement in the village’s weekly demonstrations over the past decade.
“In the end, the point is basically to stand by my friends,” Doron concludes.
The next hearing in her trial will be in September — eight months from now. Unlike Ahed, who was held in prison while awaiting trial, Doron will remain free until then.
A version of this article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.