Non-violence activist tells Israeli court charges ‘ridiculous’


BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Non-violence activist Bassem Tamimi appeared before an Israeli military court on Sunday to deny charges of incitement and organizing “illegal protests” in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.

Tamimi told Israel’s Ofer court that the accusation he organized 500 villagers into “battalions” during protests was “ridiculous and makes no sense,” the Popular Struggle Committee said.

Recognized by the EU as a human rights defender, Tamimi, 44, was detained by Israeli forces from his home on March 24.

His village, Nabi Saleh, holds weekly protests against the seizure of their land by nearby Israeli settlement Halamish.

Based on the interrogations of two children from the village — which an Israeli court ruled was admissible evidence despite violating minor’s rights — the Israeli authorities accuse him of soliciting youth to throw stones at Israeli forces during protests.

Tamimi questioned on Sunday why Israel had failed to follow up on this charge. “No one continued to look into this issue to try and dismantle this ‘army’ of mine,” he remarked to the court.

In his testimony, he challenged the Israeli regulations that deem any gathering of more than 10 people an illegal demonstration.

“International law gives us the right to peaceful protest, to demonstrate our refusal of the policies that hurt us, our daily life and the future of our children,” Tamimi said.

“I do not know and do not care if (the protests) are permitted by your law, as it was enacted by an authority I do not recognize.”

“True justice would not have me stand here before this court at all, let alone while I am imprisoned and shackled. This case is baseless and made up with the sole goal of putting me behind bars,” he added.

Since protests began in Nabi Saleh in December 2009, Israeli forces have detained more than 80 residents, around 10 percent of the entire village, according to the Popular Struggle Committee.

Two of Tamimi’s sons have been injured by Israeli soldiers at protests, and his wife has been detained twice. Israeli’s Civil Administration has ordered the demolition of Tamimi’s home, which was built in 1965.

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