PALESTINIAN PROTESTER Nariman Tamimi 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
For a number of days multiple media outlets have been providing coverage of a
trial of two Palestinian women who were arrested by the IDF for nonviolent
protest in a closed military zone.
The events surrounding the case, how
it is being covered, as well as court documents, news reports and a release from
the B’Tselem human rights group indicate that much more is at stake here than
the fate of these two women, who have been essentially released to partial house
arrest and, even if convicted, cannot be given any severe
Nine years ago the International Court of Justice ruled that
Israel’s West Bank security barrier is illegal under international
According to the Palestinian side, what is at stake in this trial is
its right to nonviolently protest that Israel is violating its rights by
maintaining the barrier and by refusing to comply with the ICJ
The Nabi Salah village – regarding which the women were arrested
– has been a major area of protests since the Palestinians claimed that Jewish
settlers took over a spring and lands connected to the village in
There are indications that the Palestinians may be timing a spike
of larger protest to coincide with the anniversary of the ICJ’s ruling, and
there are indications that the IDF has stepped up the aggressiveness of its
responses to what it perceives as a deeper threat to its ability to maintain
order in the West Bank.
In one of the remand hearings, the women’s
lawyer, Nery Ramati, even attacked the arrest as an unconstitutional violation
of their right to protest.
The head prosecutor for the IDF in the West
Bank made an extremely unusual personal appearance at the hearing, in which he
argued the issue, which the court put off, to be decided at trial.
two Palestinian women are also not unknowns. Nariman Tamimi is the wife of
Bassam Tamimi, who is revered by Palestinians as their Gandhi and leader of
nonviolent resistance but is considered highly problematic by the IDF, which
claims that he morphs from encouraging nonviolence to coordinating rock-throwing
attacks and worse.
The second woman, Rana Hamadi, is a dual
Palestinian-Canadian citizen. Because such foreign citizens often draw greater
foreign government and media attention, Israel generally tries to avoid
prosecuting persons who are citizens of other countries.
military appeal’s court order releasing her from arrest does not directly
prevent her from returning to Canada to avoid trial.
So the two women
have a high enough profile to attract outsized attention compared to others
arrested, and they are about as sympathetic cases as can be presented to make
the argument about the ICJ ruling and nonviolent protest; for, unlike some
cases, there are no allegations that they attacked IDF soldiers or threw any
The IDF, on the other hand, appears to want to draw a line in the
sand, both because, according to court records, the two women have prior
indictments or convictions, and to show its resolve in the face of potentially
In this case, the IDF’s efforts appear to have mixed
results, with the Military Appeals Court declaring the two women not dangerous,
reversing the lower Judea Court ruling on that issue, but also finding that
there was substantial evidence that they had violated the closed military zone
order – implying that the violation was done knowingly.
Part of the fight
is also whether the IDF orders are clear enough about where protests are legal
and illegal and whether Palestinians should have to apply for a permit to
The IDF would likely say that Palestinians purposely do not
apply for permits, as it is against their principles that they should need such
permission for protests on Palestinian land, and they therefore knowingly
violate the law.
The IDF would likely add that the boundaries of the
closed military zone have been published for months, and that the women were
warned not to approach, and yet they specifically approached an area closer to a
street that the IDF considers a potentially dangerous area.
Palestinians would say that the IDF changes the boundaries often, and that IDF
orders are not clear enough or publicized in such a way that puts them on proper
With neither side backing down, it seems that another major legal
public relations battle is off and running.