Bassem Tamimi: ‘I don’t trust this court, I don’t trust this legal system, all of which is built to punish the Palestinians.’
By Oren Ziv
An Israeli military appeals court on Wednesday denied bail to Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian girl who was filmed slapping an Israeli soldier at the entrance to her home, and her mother Nariman, ordering them held in prison until the conclusion of their respective trials.
Tamimi is charged with five counts of assaulting security forces, as well as with incitement. Her mother is accused of incitement via social media.
Military Judge Haim Baliti rejected most of the arguments put forth by Attorney Gaby Lasky, who is representing both Ahed and Nariman. In a hearing on Monday, Lasky had challenged the military prosecution’s assertion that both Ahed and Nariman posed a danger to the security of the area, questioned why Ahed was subject to a different legal system than Israeli minors in the West Bank, and called the arrests politically motivated.
In his decision, Baliti said Ahed’s behavior was “ideologically motivated,” based on an assertion that she had repeatedly attacked soldiers over the years. He further argued that the fact that Ahed had never been arrested before went to show the leniency of the security forces, and was not indicative of whether or not those forces viewed Ahed Tamimi’s acts as criminal or not.
Following the two hearings, Bassem Tamimi, Ahed’s father and Nariman’s husband, vowed to continue the struggle for dignity and freedom — until the occupation ends.
“I don’t trust this court, I don’t trust this legal system, all of which is built to punish the Palestinians,” said Bassem, whom the EU once designated a human rights defender and Amnesty International called a prisoner of conscience. “My sister [was] killed inside one of these courts in 1993. My daughter and wife are in the hands of my enemy.”
WATCH: Bassem Tamimi after his wife and daughter’s hearing in military court
While the judge was reading his decision, Maurice Hirsch, formerly the Israeli army’s chief military prosecutor in the West Bank, and who currently works for right-wing NGO Monitor, distributed a document from the organization quoting himself. The document argued that all Western legal systems would have kept Ahed in jail until the end of legal proceedings, despite what human rights organizations mifht say. The distribution of NGO materials inside a court room is not customary.
During a break between Ahed and Nariman’s hearings, Hirsch began yelling their lawyer, Gaby Lasky, while the latter was speaking to journalists. Hirsch claimed that Ahed “clearly supported suicide bombings.” During Nariman’s hearing, Lasky complained to the judge about Hirsch’s behavior during the hearing; the judge did not intervene.
“I am not surprised by the ruling but I am disappointed that they accepted hardly any of our arguments regarding two separate legal systems that apply to different kinds of people in the same territory,” Lasky told +972 Magazine after the hearing, “or regarding the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is recognized by Israel as it applies to the occupied territories.”
“Despite the fact that Ahed is a 16 year old who was born into the reality of occupation, we will be forced to handle this case while she is in custody,” Lasky continued. “All the allegations relate to something that took place in the yard of her home, or meters from it. It was possible to find guarantees and conditions to allow for her release.”
“One cannot say that the occupation is not ideological,” Lasky said in response to the judge’s claim that Ahed had acted on ideological grounds when attacking the soldier. “If that is true, then it is true for those who support it as well as those who oppose it. We provided plenty of examples of soldiers who committed far more serious offenses, yet the court released them on [bail]. I did not expect the court of the occupation, which was created to enforce the law on the occupied, would accept such an argument.”
Ahed’s trial is set to begin on January 31st, which will also be her 17th birthday.