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Ahed Tamimi in 2016.
Ahed Tamimi in 2016. Photo by Haim Schwarczenberg, https://schwarczenberg.com. CC BY-SA 4.0

Imagine this. You’re a teenage girl growing up under a hostile military occupation. You struggle to cover the basics: healthcare, food, water, security. You and your family resist and protest, but that makes you a government target. One day you hear that soldiers shot your cousin in the head at close range, the kind of wound that means surgery and scarring – if he lives. You’ve had enough. When the soldiers come around to your house, you tell them to leave. You slap and kick, but they’re armed with guns and you’re only armed with your fists and your words. After a video of your ineffective, teenage swatting goes viral on the internet, soldiers come and take you away in the night. That’s what happened to Ahed Tamimi.

Ahed Tamimi is the ginger-haired Palestinian girl who Israeli police forces dragged away from her family under cover of dark. Her fifteen year old cousin, Mohammed Tamimi, was shot in the head with a rubber bullet by an Israeli Defense Force soldier or border policeman only a few dozen meters away and an hour before Ahed slapped the soldiers standing in her family’s yard in Nabi Saleh, a small village near Ramallah. If this had happened in the United States of America, there would be screams of “Tyranny!” and calls for Second Amendment remedies. But Ahed Tamimi has only her wits and her conscience, and a world watching what happens to her.

The Tamimi family is no stranger to the Palestinian struggle. In April 2017, Mohammed Tamimi, then age 14, was suspected of throwing rocks at an Israeli army jeep a few days before. At 2 o’clock in the morning on April 24, 2017, Israeli soldiers forcibly broke into his family’s home, grabbed Mohammed out of bed, cuffed him and took him to a detention facility. He was interrogated without a lawyer present (which is apparently fine under Israeli law). He refused to sign forms written in Hebrew, which he cannot read. And after three months of questioning, court hearings, and detention, during which he was unable to see his family, he struck a plea bargain, agreeing to three months in prison and a fine equivalent to $860. Because that’s what happens to 14 year old boys who cop to throwing rocks at military vehicles of the world’s 8th ranked power.

What happened to Ahed Tamimi after her arrest? Posted by TRT World.

Critics invoke Mohammed Tamimi’s behavior, along with Tamimi family actions and activism, as proof that Ahed is no saint. It’s true that in 2012, an 11 year old Ahed Tamimi was filmed shaking her fist at an Israeli soldier after the military took her older brother away. A few years later she was filmed slapping a soldier who was after her younger brother. When faced with an occupation that detains children for months with little food and no access to their family or legal assistance, though, is it not understandable that people would get testy from time to time, maybe risk prison or death to throw a few rocks? One critic’s “Pallywood” is another oppressed family’s attempt to document and draw international attention to their plight.

Her detractors variously say that the soldiers she slapped acted with admirable restraint (for not shooting an unarmed teenage girl) or with weakness (for not shooting an unarmed teenage girl). But later, Ahed was arrested and taken away in an early morning raid with her mother and cousin.

Currently, Ahed Tamimi is in Israeli custody facing twelve charges, including aggravated assault against a soldier, threatening a soldier, obstructing a soldier in the performance of his duty, incitement, and that old standby, throwing rocks. She’s being shuffled around between various Israeli police stations and prisons, alone, interrogated, with her detention having been extended multiple times. If Israel is truly afraid of a sixteen year old girl who slaps soldiers, why aren’t they afraid of turning Ahed Tamimi into an internationally visible, charismatic martyr?

Sources:

The Story Behind Ahed Tamimi’s Slap: Her Cousin’s Head Shattered by Israeli Soldier’s Bullet
A Symbol of the Palestinian Resistance for the Internet Age
Ahed Tamimi: Palestinian heroine or dedicated trouble-maker?
Everything wrong with the reaction to Ahed Tamimi’s prosecution for slapping an Israeli soldier
Why Is Israel So Afraid of 16-Year-Old Ahed Tamimi?
Ahed Tamimi and Her Family Aren’t the Palestinian Saints You Want Them to Be
And if Ahed Tamimi Were Your Daughter?
Why Israel is Ranked as One of World’s 8 Great Powers for 2017

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