An Israeli court sentenced Israeli activist Yifat Doron to eight months in prison on Wednesday for slapping a military prosecutor during the trial of Ahed Tamimi in March 2018.
The incident took place during a sentencing hearing for Ahed’s mother, Nariman, who was arrested for filming her daughter slapping an Israeli soldier who had entered their yard during a demonstration in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh in 2017.
Doron, who was in Ofer Military Court on March 21, 2018 to support the women of the Tamimi family, approached military prosecutor Lt. Col. Issam Hamad at the end of the hearing, shouted “Who are you to judge her?” and slapped him. She was immediately arrested and released two days later. Doron refused any legal representation and did not sign any terms of release. On Wednesday, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ordered her to pay NIS 3,000. She will begin serving her sentence on July 1.
Ahed and her mother were arrested in December 2017 after a video of Ahed slapping an Israeli soldier went viral. The incident took place a few hours after soldiers shot Ahed’s cousin, Mohammad Tamimi, in the head with a rubber bullet, shattering his skull. Shortly thereafter, soldiers showed up in the Tamimi family’s home. Ahed and her cousin Nur confronted the armed soldiers, after which Ahed slapped one of them while Nariman filmed the incident. Ahed, Nariman, and Nur each served eight months behind bars.
Nabi Saleh is one of several villages in the occupied West Bank that took part in weekly, unarmed protests against the occupation, particularly the takeover of the village spring by the nearby settlement of Halamish. A number of Nabi Saleh’s residents have been killed and many were wounded by Israeli soldiers during those demonstrations over the years.
In November 2019, the court convicted Doron of assaulting a public servant under aggravated circumstances. During the trial, Doron chose to represent herself and refused to respond to the accusations against her. Judge Aharon Cohen ruled that Doron committed the act to “interfere with the prosecutor’s role in the trial,” noting that her action was directed against the entire military prosecution.
“I will never regret the fact that I stood alongside my friends and acted according to my moral compass,” Doron said in a short statement she gave to the court in early May. “It is a badge of honor to join a list of women whom I respect and admire who have been convicted of violent crimes in the Zionist court.”
At that hearing, Doron rejected Judge Cohen’s offer to sentence her to community service. Moreover, Atty. Efrat Filzer, who represented the military prosecution, claimed that the assault on Lt. Col. Issam Hamad at Ofer Military Court “was not accidental,” and was done because he is the head of the military prosecution in the West Bank. “The very act against him is in fact a challenge to the entire military system,” Filzer told the court. “The purpose here is to undermine and delegitimize the legal system.”
In the 12-page sentence, Judge Cohen referred to the political nature of Doron’s actions: “It is an error to treat the case before us as a routine one in which one person attacks another. The act must be viewed in the broader context as one that seeks to undermine the principles of government in the occupied territories and is intended to damage them.”
The judge added that “there can be no connection between violence and legitimate political protest” and that “such acts of political nihilism, which are intended to undermine the values of the state and its institutions, should be treated as a grave matter.” These things hold true, Cohen wrote, even if the act is “directed at the regime in the [West Bank.]”
In an interview last year, Doron said that she wasn’t trying to make a political statement when she slapped the Israeli officer: “The way I see it, this was in reaction to seeing my friend in distress.”
This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.