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Palestinian activist gets 13 months in jail after already serving them

Bassem Tamimi, one of the leaders of the popular unarmed struggle in Nabi Saleh, was sentenced Tuesday to 13 months in prison – the period of time he has already served. Tamimi: “The court sent political prisoners a clear message that they are better off confessing to what they have not done”.

Tamimi, one of the most prominent activists in Nabi Saleh who has stated countless times his commitment to nonviolent resistance, was arrested in March 2011 and charged with a series of accusations revolving around the demonstrations in his village. Two weeks ago he was acquitted of incitement, yet convicted of organizing and participating in illegal marches, and of solicitation to throw stones.

Bassem Tamimi and his wife, Neriman, after release from prison (Keren Manor / Activestills)

Bassem Tamimi and his wife, Neriman, after release from prison (Keren Manor / Activestills)

 Tamimi’s whole trial revolved around three main Palestinian witnesses, two of them minors, whose testimonies were given in questionable and partly illegal interrogations. The Ofer Military Court decided to strike two of these due to severe breaches in protocol committed by police interrogators, and based the conviction only on one testimony by a 15 year old.

Diplomats from several countries attended the trial regularly, as Tamimi was defined a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. Following his conviction, EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said the EU is “concerned at the use of evidence based on the testimony of a minor who was interrogated in violation of his rights.”

At the sentencing on Tuesday, Tamimi received 13 months in prison and 17 more on probation – which will be imposed if he is again convicted of any demonstration-related offences. The number 13 was not chosen randomly. In fact, it is the exact period that Tamimi had already sat in prison awaiting his sentence. The military court commonly uses this tactic of sentencing Palestinians to the exact same period they have already served – a tendency that has led many to feel that speedier trials could result in shorter prison sentences.

This feeling is strengthened by the fact that Tamimi’s partner in protest, Naji Tamimi, who was charged with the same offences as Bassem, was recently released as part of a plea bargain after only 12 months – even though as part of the deal he confessed to crimes Bassem has been acquitted of.

“The military court, being an instrument of occupation, sent a clear message today that Palestinian political prisoners are better off confessing to what they have not done than go to trial,” Bassem Tamimi said following his sentencing. “I was acquitted of the bulk of the indictment against me, but served more time than my friend who chose to plead guilty to all the charges in a plea bargain. Had I confessed to what I was not convicted of, I could have returned to my family earlier.”

On this note it is worth mentioning that the conviction rate against Palestinians in military court stands at 99.74 – a grim figure which leads most to settle the charges against them with plea bargains.

Bassem Tamimi at Ofer Military Court, West Bank (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Already in the beginning of his trial last June, Tamimi announced that he does not recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli military court system to try him. As part of his opening speech he said these words:

Our demonstrations are in protest of injustice. We work hand in hand with Israeli and international activists who believe, like us, that had it not been for the Occupation, we could all live in peace on this land. I do not know which laws are upheld by generals who are inhibited by fear and insecurity, nor do I know their thoughts on the civil resistance of women, children and old men who carry hope and olive branches. But I know what justice and reason are. Land theft and tree-burning is unjust. Violent repression of our demonstrations and protests and your detention camps are not evidence of the illegality of our actions. It is unfair to be tried under a law forced upon us. I know that I have rights and my actions are just.

Tamimi is but one of the many activists in the Palestinian popular unarmed struggle who have been arrested in recent years and who have spent between several months and two years in prison for demonstrating. Just recently an Israeli official acknowledged the fact that undercover law enforcers were sent to infiltrate demonstrations in Bil’in to throw stones at soldiers and create the impression that demonstrators were the ones starting the violence. As IDF Maj.-Gen. Amos Gilad once said: “We don’t do Gandhi very well.”

Read also:

Nabi Saleh: A tiny village’s struggle againt the occupation
Palestinian protest organizer stands no chance in army court
Protest organizer to military court: We fight for freedom & dignity
Conviction rate for Palestinians in Israel’s military courts: 99.74%

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    1. the other joe

      “solicitation to throw stones” – what’s that then? Pssst wanna bag of stones, mate..?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Since the security apparatus has admited inciting the throwing of stones through–ah hem–infiltration of protests, until the apparatus specifies fully where it has done so, prosecutions for throwing stones or inciting the throwing of stones should be quashed as tainted, since the judiciary cannot be certain that the State itself did not start the throwing.
      This is what law does to the executive: holds it to a standard of honesty and reason. And such standard you are indeed bleeding away.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Rehmat

      That’s called ‘Western Justice’ toward their perceived enemies. Now compare it with Iranian justice toward its enemies convicted in a court of law – but pardoned by country’s president before serving full sentence.

      On July 31, 2009 – three American Jews were arrested for entering illegically into Iran from the US-Israel protected Iraq’s northern Kurdish region. The three arrested were identified as Shane Bauer 28 (Sarah’s boyfriend), Josh Fattal 28 and Sarah Shourd 31. According to the King 5 News (Seattle), the fourth member of the group, University of Washington PhD student Shon Meckfessel escaped arrest because he did not go for ‘hiking’ and stayed at the hotel. All four are Jewish and US citizen. All four are writers and their articles have appeared in ‘The Jewish Week’ and the ‘New America Media’…..


      Reply to Comment
    4. Alan

      Rehmat– Thank you for identifying the three American hikers jailed in Iran as Jewish. I had no idea. I followed the case very closely in the American media, and they were simply identified as American. Do you think the Zionist controlled media suppressed the fact that they were Jewish?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Rehmat

      ALAN – Yes Zionist controlled media in the West always avoid to mention the faith of a criminal if he or she is Jewish. However, no such restriction applies to Muslim criminals.

      Jewish author, Steven Green in his 1984 book “Taking Sides: America’s Secret Relations With A Millitant Israel”, exposes several espionage and theft activities carried out the Israelis, which no politician has the courage to admit in public and most of those traitors were not prosecuted by the FBI. The data shows that Israelis and local Jews caught-up in such anti-US activities outnumbers from all the other communities caught in such actives put together.


      Reply to Comment
    6. max

      Rehmat, What a load of crap… Fattal’s father is Jewish and none of the others is (How Jewish does Meckfessel sound to you?); in Shane Bauer’s own words, he’s “a corn-fed boy from rural Minnesota”.
      What’s known about all of them is that they are hard core extreme left and, anti-Zionists and anti-America as it is; typical vocal Berkeley grads who just love to use their country’s freedom to bitch about it.
      And a typical Rehmat fabrication (or is it a plain lie?), for yet another conspiracy theory.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Alan


      I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these Jewish “hikers” changed their names in order to disguise their identity. Shon Meckfessel. What kind of Jewish name is that? No wonder I didn’t know he was Jewish. That’s why I think it’s important to let people know that the troll who calls himself “Rowan Berkeley” is actually Rowan Berkowitz.

      Reply to Comment
    8. max

      It’s really unbelievable how these Zionists pose as Arab conspirators and Arabs and conspirators, just to make them look ridiculous!

      Reply to Comment