Posted by: Lister | September 4, 2008

Salam Amira

Salam Amira is the Palestinian teenager (there seems to be some confusion as to her age: 14-17) who filmed a bound Palestinian prisoner being shot at with a plastic bullet.

Her home is now under attack by the IDF, according to Jonathan Cook:

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, has accused the Israeli army of seeking “revenge” for the girl’s role in exposing the actions of its armed forces in the West Bank.

It may also be hoping to dissuade other families from airing similar evidence of army brutality, particularly since B’Tselem began distributing dozens of video cameras to Palestinians across the West Bank.

[…] The village of Nilin has been the focus of the Israeli army’s actions since May, when its 4,700 inhabitants began a campaign of mainly non-violent demonstrations to halt the building of Israel’s separation wall across their land.

[…] Mr Amira is among at least 100 farmers whose livelihoods will be devastated by the wall. He will lose all 14 hectares of his land, fields on which his ancestors have made their living by growing olives, cucumbers, aubergine and tomatoes.

But Salam’s five-minute film of the roadblock incident, taken during a four-day curfew imposed on the village, has only intensified the family’s troubles.

Three days after the video was aired, the army arrested her father during a peaceful protest. He was the only one seized after the army claimed the demonstrators had entered a closed military zone. Mr Amira was also charged with assaulting a soldier.

He was held for three and a half weeks before an Israeli military judge rejected the army’s demand that he be remanded for a further three months until his trial.

In an almost unprecedented rebuke to the prosecution, the judge questioned the army’s case, saying he could see no evidence of an assault. He also asked why Salam’s father was singled out from all of those protesting.

Mr Amira’s lawyer, Gabi Laski, said the decision confirmed “our preliminary claim that the arrest was out of vengeance and punishment for the video filmed by the girl”.

Nonetheless, Mr Amira still faces a military trial. A report last year by Yesh Din, a human rights group, found that in only 0.25 per cent of cases heard by military tribunals was the defendant found innocent. Even if acquitted, Mr Amira is expected to face legal costs amounting to nearly US$10,000 (Dh36,700), a sum the family says it cannot pay.

In contrast, the two soldiers responsible for the shooting of the detainee at the roadblock have been reprimanded with the minor charge of “unbecoming conduct”. Neither will stand criminal trial. B’Tselem has called the decision “shameful”.

[…] Meanwhile, the villagers said the army’s behaviour would not dissuade them from protesting or cause them to renounce their commitment to non-violence.

Salah Hawaja, a protest organiser, said: “When we started our demonstrations, maybe 50 soldiers showed up. Now there are hundreds stationed permanently around us. Israel is treating us like a major war zone, even though we are using non-violence.”

Haaretz has the story of Mr Amira’s release:

The Israel Defense Forces court of appeals has ordered the release from detention of the father of the Palestinian girl who filmed an IDF soldier shooting a bound Palestinian youth from point-blank range.

Jamal Amira, father of 17-year-old Salam Amira who caught on tape the shooting incident two months ago, was arrested July 23 for his involvement in the protest against the separation fence, in the West Bank village of Na’alin. Amira was then charged with harming local security, wounding a Border Police officer and violating a closure decree in the area.

“One cannot overlook the fact that out of all the protestors, only Amira was arrested,” the military judge read from his ruling Sunday. The judge called the confrontation between Amira and the Border Police officer “completely unprofessional,” adding “I find that the confrontation somewhat strengthens the position of the appealer [Amira].”

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