Judge Maj. Chaim Bililati ruled that, cumulatively, the 10 counts of shoving soldiers and throwing rocks at them over around 20 months were enough to define Ahed Tamimi as dangerous for purposes of keeping her in custody pending her trial.
Bililati contended from the start with the fact that he was keeping the 16-year-old in jail despite a ruling earlier in January to release her slightly older cousin Nur Tamimi on bail.
The court wrote that Nur’s role in shoving the soldiers in the main December 15 videotaped incident that sparked the controversy was much less violent than Ahed’s, and added that Ahed had many more allegations against her, including rock-throwing.
Whereas Ahed Tamimi’s lawyer said that there were alternatives to police custody, such as being under house arrest outside of her West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on Fridays – the day protests occur – the court found that Ahed’s family has so actively encouraged her actions against the IDF that it could not be trusted to properly manage a house arrest.
The ruling was praised by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and lambasted by Palestinians, who called to add the case to a list of charges against Israel before the International Criminal Court. Any such charges would never form a separate case, but could be part of the mix used by the ICC when deciding whether to criminally probe a range of allegations against Israel.
The ruling was blasted by attorney Gaby Lasky and by B’Tselem – The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, which said that it is emblematic of broader injustices within the IDF West Bank Courts that deal with the Palestinians.
In the main incident in dispute, Tamimi can be seen pushing and kicking two soldiers, though there is no sign her small size presented any danger and the soldiers mostly ignored her.
The video evoked polarized reactions, with much of the Israeli camp expressing outrage that she and her cousin were not arrested on the spot, and much of the Palestinian camp cheering her aggressive resistance of what they view as Israeli occupation.
She has sparked such attention that dozens of media outlets in Hebrew, Arabic and English as well as diplomats from several European countries attended her Monday hearing, which was standing room only.
At Monday’s hearing on the case, Lasky, the high-profile human rights lawyer and Meretz activist who is defending Tamimi, delivered a broad indictment of the Israeli “occupation,” of US President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem declaration, and of alleged violations of her rights, in demanding her release from detention.
A major from the IDF Prosecution countered to the Judea Military Court that Tamimi has “a pattern of lawbreaking” that requires that she remain in detention until the end of her trial for shoving soldiers and rock-throwing.
Lasky told the court on Monday that the Palestinian was mostly protesting Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. She said Tamimi’s message was that “Trump needs to take responsibility” for a bad decision that led to an outbreak of Palestinian protests.
Lasky slammed Israel and the courts hearing the case as all part of an “occupation,” saying they stomp on “international law principles such as those stemming from the Convention on the Rights of the Child... and do not think about ‘what is in the best interests’ of minors” such as Tamimi.
She said that laws enforced by the IDF defining incitement for Palestinians infringe on their free speech, and that settlers who shove or throw rocks at soldiers and police are treated far more leniently.
The court rejected these arguments, saying some could be made only at trial and others did not seem to apply to Tamimi’s particular case. More specifically, the court said that Tamimi’s actions clearly constituted incitement, even if there might be a different theoretical case where Palestinian free speech would need to be defended.
Also, the court rejected cases regarding settlers who acted violently but were released as not involving the same pattern of violence. It was unclear how the court resolved this question in some cases Lasky cited where Jews had committed multiple offenses.
Lasky painted a picture in which the IDF, until the December 15 incident, viewed Tamimi merely as a nuisance, but that after the Israeli public expressed anger at the video of her shoving soldiers, the army did a sudden U-turn and made her public enemy No. 1.
The court dismissed these arguments as not addressing the broader question of whether Tamimi’s cumulative actions showed she was likely to continue breaking the law unless she received a more serious lesson.
Furthermore, the court said that the defense was unduly taking the IDF’s leniency with Tamimi in letting her off from prosecution for her earlier offenses as a sign that they were not offenses, instead of viewing the IDF as having bent over backward to give her chances to improve her behavior without needing to be prosecuted.