Palestinian Teen Maintains Innocence Despite Assaulting Israeli Soldiers

Palestinian activist and campaigner Ahed Tamimi, 17, listens during an interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP) in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on July 30, 2018, following her release from prison yesterday after an eight-month sentence for slapping Israeli soldiers, an episode that made her a symbol of resistance for Palestinians. ABBAS MOMANI / AFP

 

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi said Monday she was deeply changed by her eight-month sentence in an Israeli jail for slapping two soldiers but does not regret any of her actions.

Tamimi, who was 16 when she was arrested in December for hitting and kicking soldiers in front of her house in the occupied West Bank, was released Sunday and swarmed by media from across the globe.

In an interview the day after her release, the now 17-year-old told AFP that she understood she had become a “symbol” of the Palestinian cause.

“Of course my life has been changed a lot. I changed a lot in prison,” said Tamimi.

“I became more focused, more aware also. Prison ages a person. In one day you age 100 years,” she said in the backyard of her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.

Asked if she would have done the same thing if she had known it would land her behind bars for months, she said yes.

She pointed to the circumstances in which the soldiers had entered the garden of her house in December during a day of major protests that saw her cousin shot in the head with a rubber bullet.

“I didn’t do anything wrong that I should regret,” she said.

“If I had known I would be in jail eight months, of course, I would have done it because it was a natural reaction to a soldier being in my house shooting at people, people from my village,” she said.

“Any person in this situation — I hit him, maybe there are people that would have killed him.”

Israel’s military said the two soldiers had been in the area to prevent Palestinians from throwing stones at Israeli motorists.

The video of the altercation does not show the soldiers reacting to Tamimi’s actions or using their weapons, and the teenager was arrested four days later.

Tamimi said she hoped to study law to expose the issue of Israel’s occupation to the rest of the world.

Israel has long said Tamimi and her siblings have been manipulated by her parents — longtime activists — and used as pawns in staged provocations.

When she was only 14, a picture of her biting a soldier’s hand to prevent him from arresting a family member went viral.

She denied claims that she had been exploited.

“My family never exploited me once,” she said.

“I am mature enough and I know the cause. I know the consequences that will stem from choosing this path. I am not a child.”

Tamimi and her mother Nariman were sentenced to eight months by an Israeli military court in a plea deal following the December incident, which was recorded and went viral online.

It led Palestinians to view the teenager as a hero standing up to Israel’s occupation.

AFP

Crowds Greet Palestinian Teen After Release From Israeli Prison

Palestinian activist and campaigner Ahed Tamimi (R) is hugged by her Israeli lawyer Gaby Lasky in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on July 29, 2018, upon her release from prison after an eight-month sentence. ABBAS MOMANI / AFP

 

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi left prison Sunday and was greeted by crowds of supporters after serving eight months for slapping Israeli soldiers, an episode that made her a symbol of resistance for Palestinians.

Tamimi, 17, and her mother Nariman, who was also jailed over the incident, arrived in their village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank, where they were mobbed by journalists.

Easily recognisable by her shock of reddish hair, Tamimi wore a Palestinian-style keffiyeh around her neck, at times appearing relaxed but at other moments overwhelmed as television cameras followed her.

“The resistance continues until the fall of the occupation, and of course the (female) prisoners in jail are all strong,” Ahed Tamimi said, her voice barely audible above the crowd.

“I thank everyone who supported me in this sentence and supports all the prisoners.”

Her father Bassem put his arms around Ahed and her mother as they walked together along a road, while a crowd of around 100 chanted “we want to live in freedom”.

At a press conference later at a square in the village, Tamimi sat at a table behind a forest of microphones, a translator providing an English version of her remarks.

She declined to take questions from journalists from the Israeli media because of what she said was unfair coverage of her and her family’s cause.

She said she planned to study law to hold Israel’s occupation accountable.

“Of course I am very happy that I came back to my family, but that happiness is partly because of the prisoners who are still in prison,” she said.

Tamimi also visited the tomb of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah and laid flowers there, before meeting Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

 ‘Jailing of a child’ 

Israeli authorities appeared keen to avoid media coverage of the release as much as possible, and conflicting information had meant supporters and journalists scrambled to arrive on time at the correct location.

Tamimi and her mother had been driven early on Sunday from Israel’s Sharon prison into the West Bank, authorities said.

But the location of the checkpoint where they were to cross into the territory was changed three times before it was finally announced they were being taken to a crossing at Rantis, about an hour’s drive from the initial location.

In a sign of the sensitivity of the case, Israeli authorities on Saturday arrested two Italians and a Palestinian for painting Tamimi’s image on the Israeli separation wall cutting off the West Bank.

Both Tamimi and her mother were sentenced to eight months by an Israeli military court following a plea deal over the December incident, which the family said took place in their garden in Nabi Saleh.

They were released some three weeks early, a common practice by Israeli authorities due to overcrowded prisons, Tamimi’s lawyer Gaby Lasky said.

Video filmed by Tamimi’s mother of the December incident went viral, leading Palestinians to view the teenager as a hero standing up to Israel’s occupation.

But for Israelis, Tamimi is being used by her activist family as a pawn in staged provocations.

They point to a series of previous incidents, with older pictures of her confronting soldiers shared widely online.

Many Israelis also praised the restraint of the soldiers, who remained calm throughout, though others said her actions merited a tougher response.

Rights activists condemned Tamimi’s jailing.

Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch tweeted on Sunday that “Israel’s jailing of a child for 8 months — for calling for protests and slapping a soldier — reflects endemic discrimination, absence of due process and ill-treatment of kids.”

“Ahed Tamimi is free, but 100s of Palestinian children remain locked up with little attention on their cases,” he said.

Embassy protests 

Tamimi was arrested in the early hours of December 19, four days after the incident in the video. She was 16 at the time.

Her mother Nariman was also arrested, as was her cousin Nour, who was freed in March.

Israel’s military said the two soldiers had been in the area on the day of the incident to prevent Palestinians from throwing stones at Israeli motorists.

The video shows the cousins approaching them and telling them to leave, before shoving, kicking and slapping them.

Ahed Tamimi is the most aggressive of the two in the video.

The heavily armed soldiers do not respond in the face of what appears to be an attempt to provoke rather than seriously harm them.

They then move backward after Nariman Tamimi becomes involved.

The scuffle took place amid clashes and protests against US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Relatives say that a member of the Tamimi family was wounded in the head by a rubber bullet fired during those protests.

AFP

Israel Arrests Italians For Painting Palestinian Teen

Palestinian activist and campaigner Ahed Tamimi speaks during a press conference on the outskirts of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on July 29, 2018, upon her release from prison after an eight-month sentence. ABBAS MOMANI / AFP

 

Israeli forces have arrested two Italians for drawing a giant mural of a Palestinian teenager seen as a symbol of resistance on the separation wall in the occupied West Bank, police said.

The roughly four-meter (13 foot) image near Bethlehem in the West Bank depicts Ahed Tamimi, 17, who was released from prison Sunday after an eight-month sentence for slapping two Israeli soldiers, an episode captured on video.

On Saturday, Israeli border police arrested two Italians and a Palestinian “on suspicion of damaging and vandalising the security fence in the Bethlehem area,” a statement said.

The three, whose faces were masked, “illegally drew on the wall, and when border policemen took action to arrest them, they tried to escape in their car, which was stopped by the forces,” the statement said.

On Wednesday, a man drawing the mural had identified himself as Italian street artist Jorit Agoch.

A message was posted to a Facebook page under his name saying he had been arrested and pleading for help.

The Italian foreign ministry said on Sunday it was in contact with Israeli authorities and following the arrests “with great attention”.

The Italian consul and a lawyer visited the two at their place of detention in Jerusalem late Saturday and offered “all possible assistance,” the ministry said.

On Sunday afternoon the three were still being held by Israeli forces.

At the same time, Tamimi and her mother Nariman were taken from the Sharon prison inside Israel to their home village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank after serving their sentences.

Palestinians see Tamimi as a symbol of resistance to Israeli occupation of the West Bank and she was greeted by a crowd of supporters.

For Israelis, Tamimi is being used by her activist family as a pawn in staged provocations.

The separation wall cutting the West Bank off from Israel is filled with graffiti in support of the Palestinian cause.

Secretive British street artist Banksy is among those who have painted on the wall.

AFP

Israel Releases Palestinian Teen Jailed For Slapping Soldiers

Palestinian Ahed Tamimi (C), 16-year-old prominent campaigner against Israel’s occupation, appears at a military court at the Israeli-run Ofer prison in the West Bank village of Betunia on December 28, 2017. Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP

 

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi was released from prison Sunday after serving eight months for slapping two Israeli soldiers, an episode captured on video that made her a symbol of resistance for Palestinians.

Tamimi, 17, and her mother Nariman arrived in their village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank, where they were met by crowds of supporters and journalists.

“The resistance continues until the fall of the occupation, and of course the (female) prisoners in jail are all strong,” Ahed Tamimi said, her voice barely audible above the crowd.

“I thank everyone who supported me in this sentence and supports all the prisoners.”

Her father Bassem put his arms around Ahed and her mother as they walked together along the road, the crowd chanting “we want to live in freedom”.

Tamimi later visited the tomb of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah and laid flowers there, before meeting Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Abbas “praised Ahed and described her as a model of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, independence and statehood,” according to a statement on official news agency WAFA.

“He stressed that non-violent resistance which Ahed embodies has proven to be an ideal and vital weapon in facing the repression of the Israeli occupation.”

 ‘Jailing of a child’ 

Israeli authorities appeared keen to avoid media coverage of the release as much as possible, and conflicting information had meant supporters and journalists scrambled to arrive on time at the correct location.

Tamimi and her mother had been driven early on Sunday from Israel’s Sharon prison into the occupied West Bank, authorities said.

But the location of the checkpoint where they were to cross into the territory was changed three times before it was finally announced they were being taken to a crossing at Rantis, about an hour’s drive from the initial location.

Family members and supporters gathered at the checkpoint to greet them, but the military vehicles driving them did not stop, instead continuing towards Nabi Saleh.

There had been slight tension at the checkpoint before Tamimi’s arrival as a few men with Israeli flags approached supporters holding Palestinian flags. Words were exchanged but there was no violence.

In a sign of the sensitivity of the case, Israeli authorities on Saturday arrested two Italians and a Palestinian for painting Tamimi’s now-familiar image on the Israeli separation wall cutting off the West Bank.

Both Tamimi and her mother were sentenced to eight months in an Israeli military court following a plea deal over the December incident, which the family said took place in their garden in Nabi Saleh.

They were released some three weeks early, a common practice by Israeli authorities due to overcrowded prisons, Tamimi’s lawyer Gaby Lasky said.

Video of the December incident went viral, leading Palestinians to view her as a hero standing up to Israel’s occupation.

But for Israelis, Tamimi is being used by her activist family as a pawn in staged provocations.

They point to a series of previous such incidents involving her, with older pictures of her confronting soldiers shared widely online.

Many Israelis also praised the restraint of the soldiers, who remained calm throughout, though others said her actions merited a tougher response.

Rights activists condemned Tamimi’s jailing.

Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch tweeted on Sunday that “Israel’s jailing of a child for 8 months — for calling for protests & slapping a soldier — reflects endemic discrimination, absence of due process & ill-treatment of kids.”

“Ahed Tamimi is free, but 100s of Palestinian children remain locked up with little attention on their cases,” he said.

Embassy protests 

Tamimi was arrested in the early hours of December 19, four days after the incident in the video. She was 16 at the time.

Her mother Nariman was also arrested, as was her cousin Nour, who was freed in March.

Israel’s military said the soldiers had been in the area on the day of the incident to prevent Palestinians from throwing stones at Israeli motorists.

The video shows the cousins approaching two soldiers and telling them to leave, before shoving, kicking and slapping them.

Ahed Tamimi is the most aggressive of the two in the video.

The heavily armed soldiers do not respond in the face of what appears to be an attempt to provoke rather than seriously harm them.

They then move backwards after Nariman Tamimi becomes involved.

The scuffle took place amid clashes and protests against US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Relatives say that a member of the Tamimi family was wounded in the head by a rubber bullet fired during those protests.

AFP

Palestinian Teen’s Family Shows Video Alleging Israeli Harassment

FILE COPY Israeli lawyer Gaby Lasky (C-L) speaks with her client sixteen-years-old Ahed Tamimi (2R) before she stands for a hearing in the military court at Ofer military prison in the West Bank village of Betunia. Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP

 

The family of a Palestinian teenager jailed for slapping two Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank claimed Monday she was verbally harassed during interrogation, as they released a video of her being questioned.

Ahed Tamimi’s case gained international attention when footage emerged of her slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers next to her house in the West Bank in December, with the soldiers not responding to the provocation.

She was later arrested and eventually accepted a plea bargain in which she was sentenced to eight months in prison. She is expected to be released this summer.

In the two-hour interrogation video, Ahed, aged 16 at the time, is seen without a lawyer or guardian being questioned by two Israeli interrogators.

She repeatedly refuses to give her name or respond to their question as they try to put pressure on her to speak.

“The rounds of interrogation came after various methods of physical and psychological pressures put on her,” he father Bassem told a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

He said she had been kept in isolation and regularly moved between locations.

“She was deprived of sleep for long periods of time. In the final round of interrogations it was more than 34 hours without sleep,” he said.

The campaign for her release said their lawyers had received the two-hour video as under Israeli law they have access to certain amounts of material.

They said they had chosen to release the video to show the interrogation of children in Israeli prisons.

“This is to reiterate Ahed’s message, the message of her generation, that we are not victims, we are fighters for the cause, for freedom,” her father said.

The Israeli army said they had recently received from the justice ministry a complaint filed by Ahed Tamimi’s lawyer “with allegations of improper conduct by an (Israeli) officer”.

“The claims are being thoroughly examined,” the army said in a statement.

The video of the December incident filmed by her family went viral, with some Israelis saying it was an example of the army not responding to provocations, but others saying the soldiers were humiliated.

Palestinians said she repeatedly told the soldiers to leave her land, which is considered occupied in international law.

Her cousin had been shot by Israeli forces with a rubber bullet in clashes earlier that day leading to her anger, her lawyers argue.

She has been hailed as a hero by Palestinians who see her as bravely standing up to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

Israelis accuse her family of using Tamimi, now 17, as a pawn in staged provocations.

AFP

Palestinian Teen In ‘Slap Video’ Pleads Eight Months Jail

FILE PHOTO Palestinian Ahed Tamimi (C), a 16-year-old prominent campaigner against Israel’s occupation, appears at a military court at the Israeli-run Ofer prison in the West Bank village of Betunia on December 28, 2017.  Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP

 

A Palestinian teenager arrested after a viral video showed her hit two Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank has reached a plea deal with prosecutors to serve eight months in jail, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

The Israeli military court where Ahed Tamimi is being tried had not yet decided on whether to accept the agreement reached with prosecutors, HRW’s Omar Shakir told AFP.

Tamimi was 16 at the time of the December incident. She has since turned 17.

Palestinian Teen In ‘Slap Video’ Back At Centre Of Propaganda War

Palestinian Ahed Tamimi (C), 16-year-old prominent campaigner against Israel’s occupation, appears at a military court at the Israeli-run Ofer prison in the West Bank village of Betunia on December 28, 2017. Ahed is only a teenager, but has repeatedly been at the centre of the seemingly endless propaganda war between Israelis and Palestinians, with a video of her slapping soldiers the latest example.
Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP

Ahed Tamimi is only a teenager, but has repeatedly been at the centre of the seemingly endless propaganda war between Israelis and Palestinians, with a video of her slapping soldiers the latest example.

Tamimi, 16 and recognisable by her shock of blonde hair, has been held up by Palestinians and other supporters as a hero and brave opponent of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

On social media, they have described the teenager as “worth a thousand men” while hailing her for her “bravery against villains who judge children”.

A years-old photograph of her raising her fist at a soldier was widely published and led to her being received by then Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2012.

She was also photographed while wearing a Tweety Pie shirt and biting the hand of an Israeli soldier in 2015 to try to stop the arrest of a brother.

But for Israeli officials, she is being made to star in staged provocations by her family, prominent activists who have been at the forefront of protests in their village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah.

The latest incident led to her arrest on December 19 along with that of her mother and, the following day, her cousin.

On Thursday, a military court extended the arrests of Tamimi and her mother until Monday. Her cousin is to be released on Sunday if no new evidence is presented.

The three appeared in a video that went viral after it was recorded on December 15 in Nabi Saleh. It appears to have been filmed near the Tamimi house.

It showed Tamimi and her cousin approaching two Israeli soldiers and telling them to leave before shoving, kicking and slapping them.

The heavily armed soldiers do not respond in the face of what appears to be an attempt to provoke rather than seriously harm them.

They then move backwards after Tamimi’s mother Nariman becomes involved.

Tamimi’s father argues that her blonde hair and Western dress have contributed to the attention she has received.

“If she was veiled and dark-skinned, would she have got the same attention?” Bassem Tamimi told AFP.

“The Zionist propaganda machine always depicts the Palestinian as dark-skinned and ugly, attacking the blonde victim, but now she is blonde.”

Regarding criticism of his family, Bassem Tamimi said “we don’t have to respond or defend ourselves,” calling it an attempt to distract from their cause.

– ‘Case of public opinion’ –
Since the incident, responses from either side could not be further apart.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has called her father and commended the family’s resistance against Israel’s occupation, official news agency WAFA reported.

Supporters have accused Israeli authorities of arresting a teenager standing up for the rights of her fellow Palestinians.

“The Tamimi women and girls are not afraid of soldiers. They are not afraid of jail,” Palestinian activist Issa Amro wrote on Twitter.

“They are devoted to the struggle until we all are free.”

Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States and currently a deputy minister for diplomacy, accused the Tamimis of using children as pawns, however.

He alleged on Twitter that the family “dresses up kids in American clothes and pays them to provoke (Israeli) troops on camera.

“This cynical and cruel use of children constitutes abuse. Human rights organisations must investigate!”

The incident occurred during a day of clashes across the West Bank against US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Violence since Trump’s decision has left 12 Palestinians dead, with most killed in clashes with Israeli forces.

The Tamimi family says a relative was shot in the head with a rubber bullet during protests on the day the video was filmed.

Israelis were divided over the viral video, with some praising the soldiers’ restraint and others saying it showed weakness and merited a tougher response.

Bassem Tamimi describes his daughter as “shy”, but “someone who is mature enough to reject the occupation responsibly”.

She had in the past wanted to become a professional football player, but has since decided to study law to defend her family and village against an Israeli occupation that has lasted more than 50 years, he said.

But he said he fears his daughter will be imprisoned over the latest incident, particularly because it has become “a case of public opinion” in Israel.

AFP