In a statement circulated by Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, opponents of Israeli apartheid call for the release of Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian teenager who has become a symbol of resistance to the occupation.
Palestinian teen activist Ahed Tamimi, her imprisoned mother Nariman and her cousin Nour were brought before the Israeli Ofer military court on February 13, as a military court judge ordered Ahed’s hearings closed in an attempt to blunt international attention and outrage over the arrest, military trial and imprisonment of Ahed and fellow Palestinian children. Ahed is one of over 350 Palestinian children currently imprisoned by the Israeli occupation.
The next hearing in Ahed, Nariman and Nour’s case was set for March 11. The preliminary hearing today began with the order by the military judge, Lt. Gen. Menachem Liberman, who ordered journalists out of the courtroom and said that the further hearings in Ahed’s case would take place behind closed doors because of Ahed’s right to privacy as a minor. This took place despite the objections of defense lawyer Gaby Lasky, who emphasized that Ahed and her parents waive this right as they believe that it is critical to keep public exposure on the violation of Palestinian children’s rights.
It is particularly ironic given the public media campaign conducted against Ahed by Israeli occupation media and the aggressive statements of politicians like far-right Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has called for Ahed to be imprisoned for the rest of her life for slapping an occupation soldier invading her family’s land and home in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh. The military court’s concern for Ahed’s rights, however, seemingly does not extend to ending her detention or implementing internationally recognized children’s rights in Ahed’s case or that of her fellow imprisoned Palestinian children.
Lasky and other observers noted that the declaration of a closed trial in Ahed’s case is clearly an attempt to suppress international media interest in the case. Ahed’s case has drawn attention not only from global media but from popular movements; hundreds of protests have been organized around the world to demand her release and that of all Palestinian prisoners.
The defense also submitted a petition to dismiss the case before trial, arguing that the military courts are invalid and have no legitimate authority as they are based on an illegitimate and unlawful colonial occupation. In addition, the defense stated that the prosecution is unlawful because it is part of separate and unequal legal systems in the occupied Palestinian West Bank–one for Israeli settlers in illegal colonies–with civil rights and protections–and the other, a military court system for the indigenous Palestinian people.
The hearing comes as Ahed and Nariman near the end of their second month in Israeli prison. Ahed was seized in a pre-dawn raid on the family home on December 19, and her mother arrested hours later when going to see her daughter at military police station. Ahed is facing 12 charges in the military court, all of them based on her activity in protesting and resisting the occupation of Palestine and in particular, her family’s village, Nabi Saleh. The village of 600 has been home to a strong protest movement for years, as its spring and agricultural lands have been seized and attacked by the illegal Israeli colonial settlement of Halamish.
Ahed’s mother live-streamed her daughter’s confrontation of the heavily armed occupation soldiers on 15 December 2017, shortly after the family learned that their cousin Mohammed, 15, had been shot in the face and severely injured by a rubber-coated metal bullet. Ahed and her cousin Nour confronted the soldiers, demanding they leave the family’s land as the occupation forces instead attempted to use the family’s high ground to look down on and suppress a demonstration below. Ahed’s slap of the soldier became a viral social media video, a symbol of ongoing resistance to Palestinians–while Zionist media and politicians viewed it as unacceptable disobedience to occupation military might. Since her arrest several days later, Ahed’s case has inspired global outrage and attention not only for her own case but that of the hundreds of other imprisoned Palestinian children and thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Ahed’s family has called for a day of protest and action on February 18, marking the two-month anniversary of Ahed and Nariman’s arrest, and protests and actions are being organized in many cities to mark the day.
In addition, the action comes as dozens of African-American celebrities, artists and influential figures signed a statement in support of Ahed Tamimi and her fellow Palestinian prisoners. The text of that statement can be read here.