Palestinian youth persecuted and imprisoned for dissent against Israeli occupation
Peaceful Assembly and Association
On 19th December 2017, Ahed Tamimi, a sixteen year-old Palestinian activist, was detained after confronting two Israeli soldiers on her family's property in the West Bank. Tamimi and her mother were later arrested during a nighttime raid by Israeli security forces for participating in a "violent riot", allegedly throwing stones during protests against Israeli forces on a previous day.
On 17th January 2018, Tamimi was denied bail and charged with twelve counts, including assault and throwing stones. If convicted, the sixteen year-old could face up to ten years in prison. The video below documents Tamimi's case:
Tamimi's case has sparked a debate over the treatment of Palestinian child prisoners and the deprivation of their liberty on spurious allegations. According the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, since 2015 there has been a sharp increase in the number of children detained by Israeli authorities, with 440 documented minors behind bars in February 2016. On 12th January 2018, the European Union Representative and the EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a statement on the issue of Palestinian child prisoners, declaring:
"...deep concern regarding the circumstances of the recent arrests of two Palestinian minors, Ahed Tamimi and Fawzi Muhammad al-Juneidi, as well as the fatal shooting by Israeli security forces of another Palestinian minor, 17-year old Musaab al-Tamimi, during protests in the occupied West Bank on 3 January. It is estimated that more than 300 Palestinian children are currently being held in Israeli military detention".
Israel will have its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council on 23rd January 2018. A joint submission by CIVICUS, CIVICUS Monitor partner - Arab NGO Network for Development - and the Palestinian NGO Network illustrates the serious human rights violations committed under the Israeli occupation. In particular, the submission highlights that civic space is systematically violated as:
"Israeli authorities continue to willfully undermine the operating environment of Palestinian civil society groups monitoring and documenting human rights violations”.
The report also states that there has been little or no progress in the implementation of recommendations on the respect to the rights of association, expression and peaceful assembly since Israel's last UPR review.
In the context of the heightened tensions between Israel and Palestine, 20 organisations linked to Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement were banned entry to Israel. The so-called "blacklist" bans a number of organisations that are openly critical of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. There are claims that given the backing of the Trump administration, the Israeli authorities have become bolder in their attempts to silence dissent from pro-Palestinian groups.
The U.S. administration's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has caused unrest throughout the region and local groups in Israel and Palestine in particular have documented a drastic decline in the safety for journalists and media outlets reporting and covering the protests. For example, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) documented incidents of physical attacks against journalists in a press statement that noted:
"The total number of violations [...] in December 2017 amounted to a total of 89 violations committed by the Israeli occupation, 84 of them, noting that the Palestinian official authorities did not commit any violations during this month. 5 of the incidents consisted of the injuries of five journalists from stones thrown by demonstrators during clashes with the Israeli occupation army".