Ahed Tamimi reaches plea deal with Israeli military to serve 8 months in prison

12:00 Mar 21 2018 Ofer Military Court

Ahed Tamimi reaches plea deal with Israeli military to serve 8 months in prison
Scene. Published by Maan News

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- 17-year-old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, who was imprisoned in December for slapping and kicking an Israeli soldier, reached a plea deal with the Israeli military prosecution on Wednesday, and will serve eight months in jail with time served.

After a closed-door hearing on Wednesday, the Free The Tamimi campaign released a statement saying that Tamimi and her mother, Nariman, would both be released in July.

Nariman Tamimi was arrested one day after Ahed and later charged with “incitement” for filming and publishing Ahed’s now famous incident with the soldiers who were raiding her hometown of Nabi Saleh, in the central occupied West Bank.

Minutes before Ahed was filmed kicking and slapping the soldier who had encroached on her family’s property, soldiers had shot her 15-year-old cousin Muhammad in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet.

According to a statement from Avaaz, the organization running the campaign to free Ahed and Nariman, the military prosecution dropped eight of the 12 charges --which initially carried a sentence of up to 10 years in prison -- against Ahed as part of the plea bargain.

As part of the plea deal, Ahed recognized in court the fact that she slapped the soldier and called for protests.” In return, Ahed will get the minimum sentence of 8 months instead of spending at least 3 years in prison based on what the military prosecutor initially pursued,” Avaaz said.

“The fact that a child will be jailed for 8 months for slapping a soldier whose troops just shot her 15 year old cousin in the face is extreme, but in the context of the 99% conviction rate in the Israeli military court system and right-wing incitement against Ahed, this compromise by the Israeli military shows they have decided to back down in the face of growing pressure to release Ahed,” the statement said.

The Tamimi family of Nabi Saleh is well known internationally for their activism against the Israeli occupation, which maintains a heavy, near-constant presence in their village.

Ahed Tamimi is famous across Palestine and the Arab world for videos of her, since her childhood, defiantly resisting Israeli soldiers who clash with Palestinians in her village nearly every week.

Two years ago, her family made headlines when an Israeli soldier violently attempted to arrest her younger brother, who had one arm in a cast at the time. Ahed and her mother manager to pull the soldier of her brother and free him.

Since her arrest, Ahed has become the subject of dozens of solidarity campaigns across the world demanding her release from Israeli prison, and an end to Israeli detention of Palestinian children.

According to Palestinian prisoners rights group Addameer, 6,119 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prison as of February, 330 of whom are children.

Ahed Tamimi's Only Protection Is an Open Trial

The court rejected the request to hold the Palestinian teen's trial in open court. In this case, secrecy serves those with something to hide

Haaretz Editorial Mar 21, 2018 8:02 AM

Evidently, military court judge Netanel Benishu knows better than Ahed Tamimi what’s good for her. At least that’s the implication of his decision to reject her request that her trial be held in open court “for Tamimi’s own good.”

Benishu also knows better than her parents what’s right for their daughter, and he knows better than Tamimi’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky, how to defend her juvenile client, who was arrested on December 19 after slapping a soldier and has been held without bail ever since.

On Monday, the Military Court of Appeals said it rejected the request to hold Tamimi’s trial in open court because in-camera hearings are more likely to assure a minor a fair trial. But it’s hard to accept this argument. Tamimi’s bail hearings were all held in open court.

The entire world knows this girl – her name, her family, the video that led to her arrest – and has been following her case and the ensuing international protests ever since. Tamimi has become a new symbol of the Palestinian struggle. What exactly are the courtroom’s closed doors supposed to protect her from?

Moreover, comparing Tamimi – a Palestinian living under Israeli occupation and being tried in the military justice system – to minors tried in civilian courts inside Israel is an insult to the intelligence.

Israel’s treatment of Israeli minors and the rights they are accorded are incomparably better than its treatment of Palestinian minors, whose rights are trampled in the territories.

These differences are evident, for example, in decisions to keep defendants in jail instead of allowing alternatives to detention, in the length of detentions (an Israeli minor wouldn’t have been held for three months in a similar case), in the degree of violence used against suspects and in the severity of the sentences.

Concern for Tamimi didn’t prevent the military court from ruling that she should remain in jail until the end of proceedings, meaning until the end of the trial and sentencing.

The court decided to hold her trial in darkness while riding roughshod over her interests and rights. Under these circumstances, the only protection she really has is an open trial.

Secrecy in this case serves those who have something to hide, those who are interested in silencing the voices of protest and resistance to the Israeli occupation, which Tamimi represents.

Tamimi’s father Bassem said: “My wife and daughter didn’t do anything wrong, and they are in jail because of their battle for freedom and justice. We came here to say that Israel is the one that ought to be on trial, not them.”

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that those closed courtroom doors are meant to protect Israel. From the standpoint of a world that opposes the occupation, Israel, not Tamimi, is the real defendant.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.
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