After having served 877 days in prison on spurious charges, Tali Fahima, an Israeli citizen who independently crossed the lines with Palestine to befriend a chief militant and to initiate humanitarian work in the Jenin refugee camp, was yesterday released from prison.
Fahima's plea bargain meant that her release was supposed to have occured on September 13th, but it was delayed due to an incident in which she was "rude to a warden." This was just the latest step in a campaing to leave her in perpetual custody, ever since she was imprisoned on August 9th, 2004 for allegedly plotting to take part in a terrorist attack. This time, however, the State decided not to contest her release, and after the usual delay expected from the Israeli prison authorities, she was, indeed, set free, albeit under restrictions which would prevent her from continuing her previous activities.
It is clear to most commentators and to people close to the case that rather than any specific crime she has committed, the real reason for Fahima's persecution was the result of her association with Zakaria Zubeidi, head of the Al Aqsa Martir's Brigade in the Jenin refugee camp. Their friendship became public when she offered to act as a human shield for him after he was injured in the third attempted assassination by the IDF. She has repeatedly asserted throughout her ordeal that GSS1 agents have interrogated her and pressured her into either giving up on her political views or becoming an agent for them herself. The fact that she acted alone and directly, that she was part and parcel of a demographic which is traditionally entrenched in right-wing sentiments (lower-class Jewish-Arabs) and that she was not afraid to stand up for her views in public, in all likelihood make her especially dangerous to the regime, as there is a clear danger that others will follow in her steps.
Fahima first heard of Zubeidi when he was interviewed for an Israeli newspaper, right after a heavy Israeli offensive in the Jenin refugee camp. She decided to contact him personally, in order to see for herself how Palestinians really fared under occupation. From a consistent Likud voter she became an ardent leftist activist for the camp, repeatedly visiting the camp, doing humanitarian work for the children there, and occasionally suffering through IDF raids. This all stopped once she was arrested. She was held for four months without trial for "security reasons," in a procedure known as "administrative arrest." Eventually she was tried on charges of assisting the enemy, aiding a terrorist organization, contact with an enemy agent, divulging information to the enemy and disobeying a lawful order, which in all could have cost her life in prison.
The first two charges were eventually dropped, leaving her to face at most three years in prison, two with parole, and with her administrative arrest taken into account, meaning she only had ten months left inside. The incident she pled guilty to was translating a document dropped by the IDF identifying certain wanted Palestinian militants and their locations for Zubeidi. Why he would need for her to translate that document, as he is a fluent reader and speaker of Hebrew, and why he would need her to tell him that he and his friends are wanted by the IDF in the first place, are apparently not questions the Israeli legal system is interested in pursuing.
Coming out of prison, she was greeted by friends, family, and roughly a hundred supporters, as well as reporters from all Israeli media outlets. She was exhausted but acerbic as ever. She told reporters that she did not regret her actions, that she sees the GSS as her only enemy and that she would rather be in prison than work for them, that she will no longer act outside the law (suggesting that the GSS is likely to keep an eye on her) and that she will therefore dedicate herself to legal humanitarian work.