Israeli army brags about arresting teenage girl

Israeli occupation forces arrested a teenage girl in a night raid on the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh early Tuesday and then released a video on Twitter apparently to brag about their exploit:

“Our forces and the Border Police last night arrested a female Palestinian resident of Nabi Saleh on suspicion of attacking an officer and a soldier of the Israel Defense Forces,” the tweet states. “The suspect, who was brought to interrogation, took part in violent disturbances last Friday in which about 200 Palestinians threw stones at Israeli forces.”

The girl seen being marched out of her home by occupation soldiers appears to be Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old member of the Nabi Saleh family that has become known for its fearless defiance of the Israeli forces that regularly raid the town.

“Ahed was arrested over a video [that] went viral on social media of her slapping an armed Israeli officer during a raid on Nabi Saleh,” the Ma’an News Agency reported, citing local sources.

Israeli forces “raid[ed] my home and arrested my daughter Ahed Tamimi after the Israeli media attack[ed] her, after she [stopped] the soldier in front of our house when he shot [a] child on his head,” the well-known human rights defender and former prisoner of conscience Bassem Tamimi posted on Facebook.

Tamimi said that Israeli soldiers “beat my wife and children,” searched the house and seized the family’s phones, cameras and computers.

On Tuesday, 14-year-old Muhammad Fadel Tamimi, Ahed’s cousin, remained in a medically induced coma after being shot in the head on Friday in Nabi Saleh with a rubber-coated steel bullet, Ma’an News Agency reported.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said that on Friday nearly 900 Palestinians were injured in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, more than 650 of them during protests sparked by the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Four Palestinians were killed amid the protests.

Most of those injuries were caused by tear gas inhalation, while 29 were injured by live fire and 133 by rubber bullets. In Gaza, there were more than 200 injuries reported.

Israeli media disseminated this video filmed on Friday:

It appears to show Ahed Tamimi ordering occupation soldiers to leave the family’s property. When the soldiers fail to obey the order, several women attempt to implement it by pushing the soldiers away and then holding hands in a line to prevent their return.

Following Ahed’s arrest, Israeli forces reportedly also arrested her mother Nariman Tamimi when she went to check on her daughter.

Members of the Tamimi family reported that the Israeli military have decided to detain the pair at least until Thursday.

Prisoners solidarity group Samidoun has issued an action alert calling for pressure on Israel to immediately release Ahed and her mother.

Propaganda and spin

Notably, the Israeli army posted the video of Ahed’s arrest only on its Hebrew Twitter account, not on its internationally facing English-language account.

This may indicate that while the army wants to show how “tough” it is on Palestinians to its domestic audience, it understands how damaging images of occupation forces dragging children from their homes in the middle of the night are to Israel’s already battered international reputation.

Israeli American author Miko Peled observed that Israeli media have been “fully supportive” of the army’s “assault and arrest” of Ahed Tamimi.

Israeli journalist Edo Konrad summed up the mood in a tweet comparing the harsh treatment being demanded for Ahed Tamimi with the leniency shown toward Israeli Jewish teens who commit serious violent crimes.

Israel’s education minister Naftali Bennett told army radio that Ahed and the Tamimi women seen in the video “should finish their lives in prison.”

Israel’s propaganda machinery went into full gear to smear Ahed and the Tamimi family.

“The Tamimi family – which may not be a real family – dresses up kids in American clothes and pays them to provoke IDF troops on camera,” Michael Oren, Israel’s deputy minister for diplomacy, suggested in a bizarre tweet.

Oren, the former Israeli ambassador in Washington, has previously peddled the conspiracy theory that the 2014 Nakba Day killings by Israeli forces of two Palestinian teenagers had not really happened.

Avi Mayer, a spokesperson for Israel’s state-backed settlement organization the Jewish Agency, praised Israeli occupation forces for their supposed restraint in the face of the Tamimis’ defense of their home.

Human Rights Watch’s Omar Shakir responded: “I wouldn’t call the arrest of a young girl after an early morning raid of her house (and later her mother) and reported confiscation of the family’s phones and computers ‘quiet restraint’ … particularly given [the] army’s record of systematically abusing children in detention.”

Systematic abuse

Hundreds of Palestinian children are subjected to night raids and Israeli military detention each year, where they suffer abuse including torture and solitary confinement.

Concern over this systematic violence against Palestinian children prompted US lawmakers last month to introduce a historic bill to prevent US military aid to Israel being diverted to such practices.

Ahed Tamimi came to broad international attention after an incident in 2015 when she and several women from her family successfully prevented Israeli occupation forces from detaining another child, her brother.

This video profiles Ahed. It was published earlier this year by Friends of Sabeel North America after she was unable to obtain a visa to the United States to speak about the situation in Nabi Saleh.

The determination of the people of Nabi Saleh to resist the theft of their land for Israeli colonization has repeatedly cost members of the Tamimi family their lives and freedom.

The village’s struggle against Israeli occupation and colonization is documented in the film Thank God It’s Friday, which Belgian director Jan Beddegenoodts recently made free for all to watch online.

After Tuesday’s arrests, support for Ahed and Nariman Tamimi has spread quickly on social media:

Editor’s note: This article has been amended to give Ahed Tamimi’s age as 16, the age provided by the human rights group Defense for Children International-Palestine.

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A soldier killing a disarmed man - is praised as a hero from exactly the same people who are now whining about a girl slapping an armed soldier in the face, after the army killed her relatives and friends on a regular basis.

This are the brave soldiers of the most moral army of the world fighting for self-defense and demcracy?

I can't stop wondering how delusional those soldiers and their cheerleaders must be, not to see how ridiculous they are and how repellant such a behavior is.

Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.