Israel sentences Ahed Tamimi to eight months in prison

Ahed Tamimi, wearing prison uniform, smiles while surrounded by police

Ahed Tamimi in Ofer military court on 15 January.

Oren Ziv ActiveStills

An Israeli military court has approved a plea deal which will see Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi serve an eight-month prison sentence on top of a fine of nearly $1,500.

Ahed, who turned 17 in January, was charged with assaulting soldiers and incitement after a video recorded by her mother Nariman circulated, showing Ahed and her cousin Nour slapping and shoving two heavily armed Israeli soldiers on 15 December.

Ahed was arrested in the middle of the night at her home in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on 19 December.

Nour and Nariman were also detained by the army following the videotaped incident and have been sentenced to time served – 16 days in prison – and eight months in prison, respectively, after accepting plea deals.

“Something shameful”

The military court dropped several of its initial charges against Ahed, for which she faced up to 10 years in prison, according to the prisoners solidarity group Samidoun.

An Israeli military court ruled on Sunday that proceedings in Ahed’s case were to be held behind closed doors, rejecting her appeal for a public trial on the basis that it was for “the minor’s benefit.”

“It seems like it finally dawned on them that there’s something shameful about the proceedings against [Ahed], and that it is better to hold a secret trial rather than make public this legal farce,” Ahed’s lawyer Gaby Lasky told The Electronic Intifada prior to the ruling.

Israel’s military courts deny basic due process rights and have a near-100 percent conviction rate for Palestinians.

Concerned by these abuses, 21 members of US Congress are backing legislation to bar Israel from using American aid for the imprisonment and abuse of Palestinian children like Ahed Tamimi.

There are currently more than 300 Palestinian children in Israeli military detention.

Revenge campaign

Ahed’s viral videotaped confrontation with the soldiers occurred outside her home hours after Israeli soldiers shot in the head and seriously injured her 15-year-old cousin Muhammad Fadel Tamimi.

Muhammad was also arrested by Israeli soldiers on 26 January along with several other members of the Tamimi family, most of them children. Muhammad was released after being interrogated.

The Tamimi family is known for its unarmed resistance to Israel’s encroachment on their village of Nabi Saleh.

Ahed’s arrest made international headlines and rallied global support for her freedom, causing major embarrassment for Israel.

Israeli officials made bizarre and absurd claims about her family, with deputy minister Michael Oren positing that the Tamimis were a group of “blond, blue-eyed and light-skinned” actors hired to “make Israel look bad.”

Yoav Mordechai, the general who oversees COGAT, the bureaucratic arm of Israel’s military occupation, claimed that the injury to Muhammad Tamimi’s head was caused not by an Israeli soldier’s bullet, but by the child falling off his bike – an outlandish story soon debunked by journalists and human rights defenders.

Discrimination

While Ahed Tamimi was sentenced to eight months for slapping and shoving occupation soldiers, Israeli army medic Elor Azarya will be released from prison in May after serving only nine months for executing a prone Palestinian who lay incapacitated on a Hebron street.

Azarya’s 18-month sentence was shortened to 14 months in September. This week a military parole board ordered Azarya’s release after serving two-thirds of his sentence.

An Israeli military court had ruled that Azarya’s act was motivated by revenge.

The chief prosecutor in the case stated Azarya has shown no remorse and taken no responsibility for his actions but poses no danger to the public, according to Haaretz.

Meanwhile, David Muial was sentenced to community service on Wednesday after participating in the lynching of Eritrean asylum seeker Haftom Zarhum in October 2015.

Zarhum, 29, was severely beaten and shot to death by a mob of Israeli soldiers, prison officers and police after they mistook him for the gunman who had opened fire moments earlier at the central bus station in Beer Sheva, a city in southern Israel.

Israel refused to recognize Zarhum as a “terror victim” on grounds that he had entered Israel illegally, preventing his family from claiming compensation.

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From a PR perspective the Torah desecrators have not only managed to shoot themselves in the foot, they have managed to ram that foot down their throat. All would have been served if they had simply apologized to Ahed and the Tamimi family and offered some sort of financial settlement.

But being the arrogant racist thugs that they are, they were not going to do that, were they? Now they are going to pay. They are going to pay big.

Like Jim Crow and Apartheid, Zionism is going to go.

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This may not feel like a victory, but it is. Once again, international outrage has registered with the Israeli state. The military court was unable to pursue its full agenda against the Tamimi women, due to the avalanche of publicity and protest attending this disgraceful travesty. The court (I use the term in its loosest application) had to appease the rabid Israeli public while providing a minimum of inflammatory material for Palestinian rights groups. The judge acted under political instruction, closing procedures to observers and imposing what are by Israeli standards lenient sentences. Ahed, her mother and cousin will soon be out of prison. Let's welcome them and bring them to speak at gatherings in all of our countries. Their (relatively) early release proves once again that Israel knows that it's losing on the hasbara front and fears the bad opinion engendered by its crimes. Civil resistance does have an impact. And BDS is feared by Zionists for the best of reasons. Together, we do make a difference.

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