Israeli Court Rejects Ahed Tamimi's Request for Public Trial 'For Her Benefit’

The military prosecution has stated that it had no objection to an open-door trial, but the court says experience proves minors benefit from closed proceedings

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi in a courtroom at the Ofer military prison near Jerusalem, February 13, 2018.
Ariel Schalit/AP

The military appeals court rejected the request of Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teenager who will stand trial for striking Israeli soldiers, to hold the proceedings in open court, claiming a lack of authority.

Last week the military prosecution told the court that it had no objection to a public trial. The decision to hold the trial behind closed doors, which the prosecution did not ask for, was made by a lower court, which said that it was for “the minor’s benefit,” even though all of her detention hearings prior to her being charged were public.

Tamimi, 17, who is charged with stone-throwing and attacking soldiers on several occasions, was arrested in December after a video showing her hitting soldiers near her home in Nebi Salah went viral. She is also charged with incitement, because, among other things, she wrote on Facebook, “Our strength is in our stone and I hope that the entire world will unite to liberate Palestine if by stabbing attacking or suicide attacks or throwing stones.” In January it was decided that she would remain in detention until the end of legal proceedings.

In explaining the appeals court’s decision, Col. Netanel Benishu acknowledged that “The appellant was identified by name when the documentation of the acts that led to her arrest were publicized, and after this her detention was documented and publicized widely by security officials One cannot deny the exceptional public interest that accompanies the appellant’s judicial proceedings.”

Nevertheless, he said, “the accumulated experience over the eight years that the juvenile military court has existed has taught us that giving the minor and his family a real chance to make their arguments in an intimate framework of proceedings that aren’t open to the general public is a basic component of conducting fair and just proceedings. In this, the judicial process in the military courts isn’t any different than the process before a civilian court.

“Therefore, even if the process before a military juvenile court is slightly different than before a civilian court I also agree that closing the proceedings in the case of minor defendants must be the rule and it usually expresses the best interests of the minor.”

He added that Tamimi’s request was denied in the absence of authority but that the defense can ask for reconsideration.