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Mariam Barghouti released on bail


By Beth Staton - April 16, 2014
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Nabi Saleh] [popular resistance]

Mariam Barghouti (wearing grey) greats family members outside Israel's Ofer prison on Thursday 17 April 2014 | Dylan Collins

Mariam Barghouti, a 20-year-old student was released from military prison this evening, nearly one week after she was arrested by Israeli forces near the village of Nabi Saleh.

Barghouti was detained along with three foreign journalists and a young Palestinian citizen of Israel, Abir Kopty, as they left the village on Friday 11 April after reporting on a protest held earlier in the day. Barghouti, who holds American citizen and is a resident of the West Bank, was the only one to be arrested. She was charged with throwing stones and entering a closed military zone.  

The charges were stridently denied by Barghouti, and appear to have rested on no evidence but a soldier’s testimony. In a press release from the International Solidarity Movement, Kopty reported that one of the soldiers carrying out the detention told her “I’m going to mess up your life.” It was “obvious”, she said, that he was able to, and would, “fabricate everything for his own purposes” in this case.

A Military Court ruled Wednesday morning that she was to be released on bail, reportedly stating there were “doubts” as to whether “the evidence supports the prosecution’s charges.” Military prosecutors appealed the court's decision Thursday morning, increasing her initial bail of 8,000 NIS to 15,000 NIS.  

During her detention, Israeli authorities prohibited all contact between her and her family. In between court hearings at Israel's Ofer prison just outside of Ramallah, Barghouti was held in Hasharoun prison in the northern West Bank.

“They don’t even allow her to make a phone call,” Mariam’s older sister, Reham, told Palestine Monitor after an initial hearing on Sunday. “The only time I’ve seen her or heard from her was during the hearing, and she was crying for the whole thing. She was also really cold, as she was wearing the same clothes she was arrested in.”

Barghouti was arrested in the midst of an intensification of crackdowns on the village of Nabi Saleh. The day after she was detained, the the Israeli military declared the village a closed military zone and subjected it to a three day siege, a closure which was eventually broken after a peaceful protests from residents and their supporters.

During the siege, which reportedly began “suddenly” on Saturday, residents were subjected to fire from sound grenades, rubber bullets, and a closure of the main road connecting the village to the nearby city of Ramallah.

“The restrictions made it difficult for villagers to continue their life normally,” Bassam Tamimi, a leader of Nabi Saleh’s popular resistance, told Palestine Monitor. “To leave the village for work, to go to hospital, takes a long time and is expensive.” When villagers tried to leave via alternative routes, he said, they were frequently fired upon by soldiers.

A video uploaded to YouTube by Tamimi Press shows the demonstration that preceded the reopening of the checkpoint. It shows soldiers firing sound grenades at the protesters, who approached the barrier by foot, waving flags and chanting slogans. The troops attempt to force back the crowd, violently pushing men and women away and to the ground, manhandling protesters and dragging others away from the group.

“I’m not touching you, you are touching me,” a woman is seen telling a soldier. “This is my land, this is my house, I’m staying here. Don’t ever dream that I am going to leave.”

 

Nabi Saleh is known as one a hotpoint of Palestinian popular resistance. The small village of about 500 people holds weekly protests against the confiscation of a spring and village lands by the nearby settlement of Halamish. In recent years, two of the village’s residents have been killed and many more arrested by Israeli forces in the area.

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