The twelve Israeli activists arrested in connection to the protest at US ambassador’s home on Saturday night have been released from jail on no bail. The charges included illegal weapons possession and distributing public order were not dropped, but the judge argued that there was no evidence for the charges to hold up in a trial.
The state requested that the activists pay 3,000 NIS as well as serve a ten day house arrest sentence. However, the judge released the activists on a condition that they stay 200 meters away from any US institution for the next 30 days. The state could push for a trial against the activists, but that seems highly unlikely at this point.
The protest action signaled an aggressive new strategy by members of the Israeli left, which highlights the foreign funding of Israeli military strategy in the West Bank. After a demonstration in central Tel Aviv that blocked portions of the road in front of the Defense Ministry on Saturday evening, roughly 25 activists protested in front of the US ambassadors house demanding an end to US military aid to Israel. During the action, protesters ‘returned’ empty tear gas canisters which were manufactured in the US and involved in the killing of 36 year old Jawahar Abu Rahmah during last Friday’s unarmed demonstration in Bil’in.
11 protesters were arrested on the spot and have been held in a Tel Aviv jail since Saturday night. One activist, who was not present at the ambassador’s house, was arrested yesterday afternoon on conspiracy charges related to the planning of the action. All have been released as of the posting of this item.
The US State Department was asked during a routine press briefing by AP’s Matt Lee if they were aware of the protest. The repose is below in full:
QUESTION (Matt Lee, AP): Were you aware of this protest that happened at Ambassador Cunningham’s house? At his residence in Tel Aviv over the weekend, a bunch of protestors tried to, quote-un-quote, “return teargas canisters” that were fired at them that led to the death of a protestor.
MR. PAT CROWLEY, US State Department Press Officer: I’m not, actually.
QUESTION: Okay. The reason I ask is that the Israeli police say that some of the teargas canisters were still active and that they were treating it as an attack on a diplomatic facility.
MR. CROWLEY: And —
QUESTION: Can you —
MR. CROWLEY: — we certainly support the investigation. I mean, I am aware of the episode in terms of the teargas, but I’m not aware of the protests. But I’m – we understand it’s being investigated.
QUESTION: Do you – so you – I’m sorry, you’re aware of the protest at the Ambassador’s residence or —
MR. CROWLEY: No, I do understand that there was teargas that was led off in conjunction with a protest – I didn’t know the location of the protest – and that I believe at least one person was killed as a result of that. And I believe it’s being investigated.
QUESTION: Well, this was – this is – there are two separate incidents.
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.
QUESTION: There’s the one where the teargas was fired and then there was this one in front of – can you —
MR. CROWLEY: I did not know anything about the other —
QUESTION: Okay. Can – is it possible to check to see if you guys are treating this as an attack on one of your diplomatic facilities?
MR. CROWLEY: Okay.