Remand in custody – even of minors – is part of the routine of oppression that Israel employs against Palestinians, with the full backing of the military courts, a system in which both judges and prosecutors are always military personnel, the defendants always Palestinian, and the conviction rate almost 100%
Today (Wednesday, 17 Jan. 2018), a military judge approved the prosecution’s request to remand ‘Ahed and Nariman Tamimi in custody. The hearing, which was held at Ofer Military Court, is a prime example – one of many thousands – of how rather than serving justice, Israel’s military court system is a major tool of oppression serving Israel’s control over Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
Both ‘Ahed Tamimi (16) and her mother Nariman (42) have been in custody since 19 December 2017, after ‘Ahed was taken from her home in the middle of the night, and her mother was arrested when she came to find out what was happening with her daughter later that day. All the military prosecution’s requests to extend their detention have been approved by the military judges. Meanwhile, the prosecution has built up inflated case files against both mother and daughter, including a litany of charges that go back as far as April 2016 – conveniently ignoring the fact that until now, the authorities have seen no need to arrest the alleged suspects or call them in for questioning.
The high-profile arrest of the two has elicited extreme responses from top members of government in Israel, ranging from a demand to let them spend the rest of their lives in prison to an announcement that their relatives’ permits to enter Israel would be revoked. These reactions stem partly from the fact that the Tamimi family has long since become a symbol of unarmed Palestinian resistance to the occupation. To defeat this family, Israel is resorting to a variety of tools it has developed and used for more than fifty years against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, as part of its attempts to sustain the occupation regime.
The key measures that Israel is using against ‘Ahed and Nariman Tamimi are familiar – to varying degrees – from thousands of other legal cases that Israel has taken up against Palestinian defendants: Violent arrest in the middle of the night, slapdash indictments and prolonged detention that today became remand in custody for the duration of the proceedings. The fact that these measures are being used against a minor magnifies the violation of human rights that is already par for the course in Israel’s treatment of hundreds of Palestinian minors: According to statistics provided to B’Tselem by the Israel Prison Service, as of 30 November 2017, 181 Palestinian minors were being held in custody for the duration of legal proceedings in their cases.
Remand for the duration of the proceedings means that a person continues to be held in custody after the investigation has been concluded and an indictment filed, until all legal proceedings, including judgment and sentencing are over. During this time, the detainee is not serving a prison sentence and is supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. As such, remand should be the exception to the rule, but in the military courts in the West Bank, the prosecution regularly asks the military judges to approve remand, and the latter almost always comply. This practice serves as an incentive for defendants to plead guilty to the charges against them and to sign plea bargains – regardless of whether they actually committed the offense and the evidence against them. If they choose to go to trial while in custody, they may end up spending more time behind bars than they would be sentenced to in a plea bargain.
The upshot of all this is that the military prosecution is almost never required to go to trial, where it would have to prove the defendant’s guilt. Consequently, the judges’ decision to approve remand is tantamount to a conviction – as the case is decided once the person is remanded, rather than based on the evidence. Pretrial approval of remand in custody of people who have not yet been convicted, as standard practice, effectively empties the judicial process of meaning.
These proceedings reveal the disgrace of Israel’s military regime as a whole, and of its military courts in particular. In this system, the judges and prosecutors are always military personnel, the defendants are always Palestinian, and the conviction rate is almost 100%. This so-called justice system is one of the most offensive mechanisms employed under Israel’s occupation regime. Its goal is not to serve truth and justice, but to preserve Israel’s control over the Palestinian people. This is true of the Tamimi family – and of thousands of others.
For additional information: Amit Gilutz, +972-54-6841126, firstname.lastname@example.org
B'Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories P.O. Box 53132, Jerusalem 9153002
Israeli activists join Nabi Saleh rally: Free the Tamimi women and Palestinian political prisoners
This Saturday Jan 13 at 11 am in Nabi Saleh, Rally for freedom for the Tamimi family and all Palestinian political prisoners.
Please join the people of Nabi Saleh and other towns and villages for this important cause. For transportation from Tel Aviv please call Ilan 0544986460
Ahed Tamimi was detained by Israeli soldiers on Sunday, 19 December, 2017, during a pre-dawn raid on her family's house.. Her arrest was filmed, and the video published by the IDF Spokesperson.
The media-oriented arrest took place after a video from the previous Friday (15.12.2017) produced a full-fledged media frenzy in Israel, evoking a heated and inflammatory discourse against the Tamimi family.
Ahed's mother, Nariman Tamimi, was arrested several hours later on suspicion of incitement, merely for having allegedly broadcast the incident on Facebook. Nur Tamimi, Ahed's 20-year-old cousin, was arrested the following day in another pre-dawn raid, on suspicion of participation in the incident.
The three have since all been served with inflated indictments. During the repeated remand hearings and appeals, The Tamimis' legal defense team has presented overwhelming legal precedents in similar cases involving Israeli settlers in the West Bank, all of whom have been released on bail or without charge. Ahed and Nariman, however, currently remain under detention at HaSharon prison. Nur was released on bail on Thursday, 1 January , after two weeks of detention.
The Tamimi women, like all Palestinians in the West Bank, are subject to Israeli military law, and dealt with in military courts. Israeli human rights group B'Tselem referred to proceedings in these courts as a "façade of propriety" that "masks one of the most injurious apparatuses of the occupation" and stated that "military courts are not, an impartial, neutral arbitrator – nor can they be. They are firmly entrenched on one side of this unequal balance, and serve as one of the central systems maintaining Israel's control over the Palestinian people".
Israel upholds two separate and discriminatory legal systems in the West Bank: on one hand, military law for Palestinians, and by contrast, the much more lenient and liberal Israeli criminal judicial system for Israeli citizens, including settlers.
Since the year 2000, thousands of Palestinian children have been detained by Israel, in what amounts to a systematic policy, which, as the UN has highlighted, includes abuse and ill-treatment. Diplomatic involvement in such cases, including diplomatic monitoring of legal proceeding, have helped decrease the severity of Israeli abuses in the past.
Marwa Hanna Outreach and media Coordinator Coalition of Women for Peace +972506576760
Free Ahed Tamimi and all imprisoned Palestinian minors!
Please add your name to this open letter targeting all world leaders: "We demand that Ahed Tamimi and all Palestinian minors are released from Israeli prisons now.
The international community must put an end to the ill-treatment and detention of Palestinian children. Enough is enough.
To Ahed and all the children in Israeli jails: We stand by your side, and are holding you in our hearts. We will not give up until you are free. You are not alone."
Ahed Tamimi was dragged out of her bed in the night and arrested.
Ahed is a child, and like thousands of Palestinian children she could be humiliated and abused if we don't get her out fast.
Ahed's been on the frontline defending Palestine since she was 7 years old. Now Ahed needs us to stand up for her.
Add your name to free Ahed and all child prisoners, it will be delivered to leaders worldwide and to Ahed's lawyer, to give to Ahed in prison to give her strength as she faces the Israeli military's terrifying interrogation tactics.