Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi in custody after video of her goading Israeli soldier goes viral
The Israeli army has detained 17-year-old Palestinian Ahed Tamimi, after a video of her harassing two Israeli soldiers went viral on social media. The video shows Ahed shouting at, kicking and slapping the troops who were standing at the entrance of her house in Nabi Saleh, located east of Ramallah. Three days after the incident, the Israeli military arrested her and she remains in custody. Ahed’s mother, Nariman, is also being held on charges of assault and “incitement.”
When contacted by The Media Line, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson refused to comment on the issue, however, the army posted a message to its website saying, “it was wrong not to arrest her [Ahed] immediately, because she tried to block the soldiers’ mission.”
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman added that, “no one involved—not only the girl but also her parents and those around them—will escape from what they deserve. Whoever goes wild during the day, will be arrested at night,” he asserted.
Ahed’s father, Bassem Tamimi, revealed to The Media Line that he has not been told which jail his wife and daughter are being held in. “Our lawyer tried to locate them, but no information has been given until now. If the soldier decides to sue Ahed she will spend a long time in prison.”
Bassem described Ahed’s arrest as an effort by the Israelis to break the will of the Palestinian people by humiliating them. He further claimed that the soldier Ahed slapped had previously shot her cousin Mohammed in the face with a rubber bullet and that he remains hospitalized.
“The soldiers were shocked and confused,” he elaborated, “and they are not usually calm or nice. This is because one of them came to hide after shooting a child—he was not feeling like himself.” Regarding his wife, Bassem added that he does know why she was arrested.
Nabi Saleh has been a frequent staging ground for provoked clashes between Palestinians and Israelis, with members of the Tamimi family in particular known for their involvement in highly-publicized altercations with the IDF.
For her part, Ahed has been politically active since she was very young and is considered a national hero by many Palestinians. In 2012, she gained notoriety when a video of her leading a group of children in a verbal confrontation with Israeli soldiers became an Internet sensation. Two years ago, she again made international headlines when a picture of her surfaced biting the hand of an Israeli soldier holding down a Palestinian boy who had been throwing stones.
Palestinian activists have praised Ahed’s actions, while many in Israel accuse the Tamimi family of using her as a propaganda tool. Following Ahed’s arrest the hashtag #FreeAhedTamimi was trending on both Twitter and Facebook.
Issa Qaraqe, the head of the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs, believes that Ahed’s detainment is part and parcel of a broader campaign targeting the Tamimi family and the town as a whole. “Israel does not like how the villagers defend their lands and fight the settlers from expanding. By arresting Ahed they are trying to hurt the Palestinian resistance,” he told The Media line.
Qaraqe denounced the IDF soldiers as “machines without any feelings” and confirmed that a lawyer has been hired on behalf of Ahed and her mother. He also is lobbying international officials and human rights organizations to work towards pressuring the Israeli government to release them both.
By contrast, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett asserted that “these girls [Ahed and her cousin] should spend the rest of their lives in prison.” In response, a Jordanian prince tweeted, “is this what really scares Israel? A young girl who has the courage to stand up for her rights against an illegal occupation that breaks international laws. Release her.”