OFER MILITARY BASE — An Israeli military court Tuesday sentenced a Palestinian protest leader to 13 months in jail, time he already had served for urging youths to throw rocks at Israeli soldiers.
Bassem al-Tamimi, 45, walked free because he already spent that much time in jail while awaiting trial. The activist led weekly marches in his West Bank village of Nabi Saleh for years to protest Jewish settlers seizing a nearby well for their own use, mirroring other protests in Palestinian villages.
The court said he was convicted mostly on the basis of a confession given by a 15-year-old. The teen was interrogated without a lawyer present, his relatives and activists said.
The case against him sparked European Union criticism of Israel’s policy of imprisoning Palestinian protest leaders.
Many of those protests turn into clashes between stone-throwing youths and Israeli soldiers firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Typically, youths appear to act on their own, while protest leaders do little to halt them.
Mr. al-Tamimi said the sentence highlighted the “absurdity” of the case, matching the time he spent in prison before his 85-year-old mother suffered a stroke, prompting his conditional release in April.
Mr. al-Tamimi said he was at the mercy of statements taken from vulnerable youths interrogated by Israeli forces.
Mall fire probed as victims mourned
DOHA — Investigators in Qatar carried out their first extensive probes through a fire-ravaged daycare center and other charred areas inside the country’s biggest mall Tuesday after a blaze that killed 19 people, including 13 children.
The blaze and equipment failures that hampered firefighting raised questions about safety measures in the megastructures across the wealthy Gulf.
The findings from the state-ordered inquest are expected within a week, the official Qatar News Agency said.
But commentators quickly called for extensive safety reviews after the sprinkler system malfunctioned during Monday’s fire.
The tragedy also is likely to push authorities across the Gulf to further examine fire safety rules in a region where the drive to build fast and big has brought concerns about the level of emergency planning.
Rescue crews in Qatar’s capital Doha had to hack through the roof of the mammoth Villaggio mall to reach the child care facility, where the victims included 2-year-old New Zealand triplets and three Spanish siblings. Two firefighters also were killed.