Free Ahed Tamimi

Pales­tinian child pris­on­ers should not be ne­glected

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Stu­dents in Sol­i­dar­ity for Pales­tinian Hu­man Rights (SPHR)

On Jan­uary 31 Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year old Pales­tinian youth ac­tivist from the vil­lage of Nabi Saleh in the Oc­cu­pied West Bank, will face trial in the Is­raeli mil­i­tary court. Though the par­tic­u­lars of her case have swept the in­ter­net, gain­ing in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion, her predica­ment is not un­usual — the lat­est fig­ures re­veal 400 Pales­tinian chil­dren are in Is­raeli jails. With a con­vic­tion rate of 99.7 per cent for Pales­tini­ans in Is­raeli mil­i­tary courts, it is safe to as­sume that an­other child will go to jail.

The Tamimi case

On De­cem­ber 19, the Is­raeli De­fense Forces (IDF) shot Ahed’s 14-year old cousin, Muham­mad Fadel Tamimi, with a rub­ber-coated metal bul­let. He was sub­se­quently placed in a med­i­cally in­duced coma. Shortly af­ter, while the fam­ily was still un­sure of Muham­mad’s fate, IDF soldiers ap­peared at the Tamimi res­i­dence. The fam­ily or­dered the soldiers to leave their prop­erty, and at­tempted to phys­i­cally re­move them. Ahed was filmed slap­ping one of the soldiers, an act that now founds the ba­sis for her trial. Ahed’s mother, Na­ri­man Tamimi, and her 21-year-old cousin Nour Tamimi, were also de­tained.

Ahed now faces up to ten years in prison based on 12 charges, in­clud­ing as­sault un­der ag­gra­vated cir­cum­stances and in­cite­ment. The Is­raeli mil­i­tary court filed the charges over of­fenses that in­clude five other in­ci­dents over the past two years.

Child pris­on­ers in Pales­tine

Ahed Tamimi is not a unique case of the in­jus­tices Pales­tine chil­dren con­front daily. In the past five decades alone, an es­ti­mated 45,000 Pales­tinian chil­dren have been de­tained by the Is­raeli mil­i­tary. Is­rael is “the only coun­try in the world” that pros­e­cutes be­tween 500 to 700 Pales­tinian chil­dren in mil­i­tary courts each year. Hun­dreds more are also ar­rested with their habeas cor­pus rights sus­pended, be­ing left to lan­guish in prison with­out pros­e­cu­tion or trial.

Is­rael’s ac­tions and treat­ment of Pales­tinian child pris­on­ers is in com­plete dis­re­gard of the UN Con­ven­tion on the Rights of the Child, which states that the ar­rest, de­ten­tion or im­pris­on­ment of a child must be used “only as a mea­sure of last re­sort and for the short­est ap­pro­pri­ate pe­riod of time.” De­spite this, lawyer re­ports show that “Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces are us­ing un­nec­es­sary force and vi­o­lence in ar­rest­ing and de­tain­ing chil­dren, in some cases beat­ing them, and of­ten hold­ing them in un­safe and abu­sive con­di­tions.”

On trial in the oc­cu­pier’s courts

Ahed, like other Pales­tinian chil­dren and adults, is cur­rently be­ing de­tained in a mil­i­tary prison and be­ing tried in a mil­i­tary court. Illegal set­tlers on the Halamish set­tle­ment, which neigh­bours Ahed’s home, do not re­ceive this treat­ment; if they com­mit sim­i­lar acts, they are tried in an Is­raeli civil­ian court.

Jonathan Pol­lack, a spokesper­son for Tamimi’s le­gal team, drew at­ten­tion to the ways in which Is­rael’s two-tiered le­gal sys­tem up­holds apartheid, stat­ing:

“Pales­tini­ans are sub­jected to mil­i­tary law, which is not based on leg­is­la­tion but on the de­crees is­sued by the mil­i­tary com­man­ders. That didn’t even ex­ist in apartheid South Africa. They had one le­gal sys­tem — it was dis­crim­i­na­tory, it was bad, but it was a sin­gle sys­tem of law.”

This is just one ex­am­ple of dis­crim­i­na­tory laws and prac­tices by Is­rael, which ul­ti­mately backed a re­cent United Na­tions re­port cat­e­go­riz­ing Is­rael as an apartheid state.

The fight for jus­tice will go on

De­spite on­go­ing at­tempts to pacify and sup­press Pales­tinian youth, their spirit is not so eas­ily bro­ken. Just last year, over 1,000 po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers launched the largest Pales­tinian pris­oner hunger strike against “Is­rael’s in­hu­mane sys­tem of colo­nial and mil­i­tary oc­cu­pa­tion [which] aims to break the spirit of pris­on­ers and the na­tion to which they be­long, by in­flict­ing suf­fer­ing on their bod­ies, sep­a­rat­ing them from their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties, us­ing hu­mil­i­at­ing mea­sures to com­pel sub­ju­ga­tion.”

When brought to trial, and asked by a judge, “How did you slap the sol­dier?” Ahed boldly replied, “Take off the cuffs and I will show you!”

Let’s fol­low Ahed’s demon­stra­tion of de­fi­ance and join the call by Sami­doun Pales­tinian Pris­on­ers Sol­i­dar­ity Net­work to mark Jan­uary 26-30 as days of ac­tion to free Ahed Tamimi, Pales­tinian pris­on­ers, and all other pris­on­ers un­justly held in Is­raeli jails.

In the past five decades, an es­ti­mated 45,000 Pales­tinian chil­dren have been de­tained by the Is­raeli mil­i­tary.

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