BADIL – Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
|Bethlehem, January 30, 2018
Dear Justice Renate Winter, Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Dear Committee Members,
We are writing to you esteemed experts in regards to serious violations of children’s rights committed by the Israeli occupation within the occupied Palestinian territories.
Ahed Tamimi, a 16 year old Palestinian girl 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.
|Ahed’s mother, Nariman Tamimi, was arrested several hours later on suspicion of incitement, merely for having allegedly broadcasted the incident on Facebook.
|The media-oriented arrests only took place after a video from the prior Friday (15 December, 2017) produced a full-fledged media frenzy in Israel, evoking heated and inflammatory discourse against the Tamimi family, including by leading Israeli politicians and media figures.
|The political nature of the arrests is abundantly clear, Israeli Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett has publicly called for her to spend the rest of her days in prison, while Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has taken actual punitive steps, banning 20 members of her family from entering Israel and barring Ahed’s father, Bassem Tamimi, from traveling abroad. Lieberman also added that the treatment of Ahed Tamimi and her family must be severe and serve as deterrent, including their arrest and the execution of judgment.
|Ahed, Nariman and Nur 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.
|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”.
|According to Defense for Children Palestine, since the year 2000, at least 8,000 Palestinian children have been detained by Israel, which, as the UN has highlighted, includes abuse and ill-treatment. International and diplomatic involvement in such cases, including monitoring of legal proceeding, have helped decrease the severity of Israeli abuses in the past.
|At the last hearing that, which took place on Wednesday, 17th of January, the military Court judge approved the prosecution’s request to keep Ahed Tamimi in custody for the duration of the proceedings. This means that Ahed is likely to remain held in custody after the investigation has been concluded and an indictment filed, until all legal proceedings, including judgment and sentencing are over. While this remand in custody should be the exception since a person should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, in the Israeli military courts in the West Bank, this is the rule with respect to Palestinians such as Ahed.
Ahed’s case is not the first nor the last of a series of continued human rights and children rights’ violations by the Israeli military courts in the West Bank.
“The Israeli military court system is not a justice system. A system interested in justice does not place children in solitary confinement, subject them to prolonged interrogation sessions, deny them access to counsel, and prosecute them relying on statements obtained through coercion.” Ayed Abu Eqtaish, DCI-
While Ahed’s future is not clear, we may cite the following cases for Palestinian children prosecuted in military courts:
- Ahmad Manasra arrested at the age of 13 is serving 12 years prison sentence
- Shadi Farrah, arrested at the age of 13 is serving 3 year prison sentence
- Norhan Awwad, arrested at the age of 16 is serving 13.5 years prison sentence
- Malak Salman, arrested at the age of 16 is serving a 10 year sentence
- Shadi Alqam, arrested at the age of 16 is serving 6 year prison sentence
- Jalal Sharawneh, arrested at the age of 16 is being held is prison for almost 2.5 years and still not sentenced yet, Jalal’s leg amputated due to intended negligence in treating him during interrogation;
- The Hares brothers case, five boys aged 16-17 were arrested from Hares village and are now serving 15 years prison sentence
These are classic cases of kidnap, interrogation, abuse, forced ‘confessions’ within the context of a 99.7% indictment rate at Israeli military courts.
As such, we are seeking your support in regard to exercising pressure on the Israeli government in order to stop these violations and the inhuman treatment of Palestinian children. In particular, we hope to put an end to the arrest of Ahed Tamimi and the proceeding being undertaken against her in the military court.
Such proceedings contravene Israel’s international obligations set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as was recalled by the Committee in its Concluding observations adopted upon the consideration of the second to fourth periodic reports of Israel at its sixty-third session (27 May – 14 June 2013). Within the observations, the Committee expressed its concern “that the State party fully disregarded the recommendations it made in 2002 and 2010 in relation to arrest and detention of Palestinian children and their detention conditions and has continued to deny all these guarantees and safeguards to children living in the OPT who remain subject to military orders…”. Accordingly, the Committee “…urges the State party to comply with the recommendations it made in 2002 and 2010 and which have been constantly reiterated by all human rights mechanisms, the United Nations Secretary General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights and in particular that it:… Ensure that detained children have effective access to an independent judicial review of the legality of their arrest and detention within 24 hours of their arrest and are provided with adequate free and independent legal assistance immediately after their arrest and can contact their parents or close relatives…” (CRC/C/ISR/CO/2-4, paras.73-74).
Ahed’s case is in process, Ahed and all Palestinian children seek your support for better justice and a reclaimed childhood.
With the assurance of our respect and consideration.