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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

No civilised nation would treat minors the way Israel treats Palestinian children

But Israel, having lurched to the very far right, is not like any other nation

Ahed Tamimi's crime was to lay her hands on a pair of heavily armed Israeli soldiers who had no business being in her West Bank village.  AP File Photo
Ahed Tamimi's crime was to lay her hands on a pair of heavily armed Israeli soldiers who had no business being in her West Bank village. AP File Photo

A teenage girl is abducted in an early morning raid on her home, charged with offences ranging from “incitement” to “harming the security of the area”, paraded before a military court, denied an open hearing and placed in indefinite detention. This is how Israel dealt with Ahed Tamimi, a teenager whose crime was to lay her hands on a pair of heavily armed Israeli soldiers who had no business being in her West Bank village. Israel’s disproportionate response was in keeping with its wretched tradition of tormenting Palestinian children. Some 8,000 Palestinian children have been prosecuted in Israeli military courts since 2000. As the UN children’s fund said in a 2013 report, military detention of children by Israeli forces is “widespread, systematic and institutionalised”.

After months of being locked up in a military prison, where she turned 17, Tamimi accepted a plea deal on Wednesday to serve eight months, including time already served, and pay a hefty fine. As Tamimi said before the deal was announced, “there is no justice under occupation”. In virtually any other civilised system, not only would she have been exonerated, but the prosecution would probably have received a stern scolding from the presiding judge. But Israel is a militarised state whose government has lurched to the extreme right.

Decades of unrepentant oppression of the Palestinians have created a society incapable of compassion or common sense when dealing with those who are different. Israeli anger, as The National reports, is now focused on thousands of refugees from Africa who are poised to be deported to places where they might be tortured or executed. A state founded on denying the rights of Palestinians is now extending the principle to others. Israel’s “justice system” has always functioned as a legitimising tool and enforcement arm of the state of Israel. The purpose of the military courts, in particular, is not to deliver impartial justice but to sanctify Israel’s atrocities against defenceless Palestinians. Every Palestinian captured brought before these courts is presumed to be guilty until proven innocent. And trying to prove innocence is a futile effort because, in Israel, only one set of people can ever be innocent in law.