Government and army punish the women of the Tamimi family; awake a wave of international solidarity and support.
Sixteen year-old Ahed Tamimi and her twenty one year-old cousin, Nur Tamimi, were arrested during a military raid on their house in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh three weeks ago on the night of December 19th. Ahed’s mother, Neriman Tamimi, was arrested when she went into the police station to find out what happened to her daughter. The family’s laptops and phones were confiscated by the army.
All of this was a result of a footage documenting the two young women facing two armed soldiers with full body armor, and with bare hands trying to remove them from their home. Minutes earlier, Ahed’s relative, fifteen year-old Muhammad Tamimi, was critically wounded after he was shot in the head with a rubber plated metal bullet.
It is clear from the clip that the soldiers were not hurt or threatened at any point. They held on to their weapons, but left without arresting the women or attacking them. The publication of the incident caused an uproar among the Israeli right-wing. From the fascist far-right of Benzi Gupstein and “The Shadow” (a washed up rapper turned into a vocal proponent of the far-right on social media), to the security minister, Lieberman, and the education minister Bennet, who demanded the arrest of the girl who dared to kick a soldier out of her home in the occupied territories.
The highly covered arrests that were documented and publicized by an Israeli army spokesperson seem like a vindictive act, meant to show that the soldiers retreating from protests of unarmed residents was nothing more than a tactical move, and to deter young Palestinian men and women from fighting against the occupation, especially in lieu of the protests following Trump’s declaration (regarding Jerusalem and the location of the US embassy in Israel).
The military is accusing Ahed of five counts of “assault” against security forces and incitement. Her mother is accused of filming two instances and of “incitement” on social media. Nur was also officially accused of an alleged assault of a soldier.
Meanwhile, the women of the Tamimi family are being held in the military prison, “Ofer”, notorious for the use of questionable methods to break prisoners, such as isolation and sleep deprivation (Nur has since been released after 16 days). They will stand trial in a court martial, a court with almost a 100% conviction rate. Since the original incident for which they were arrested is not enough, even by the distorted standards of the military court system, to justify the continuation of their arrest, the military advocate office repeatedly demands to extend their arrest in order to add more offenses that allegedly happened in the past to their indictment. In these conditions, not only do they not have any chance of a fair trial, but there is a real danger they will remain in prison for years.
It is almost redundant to mention that Jewish settlers who have been documented assaulting Palestinians, Israeli left activists, or even police officers and soldiers, not only do not face a military court, but almost always don’t face any court at all for their actions.
Media coverage denies reality
The discussion in the mainstream Israeli media was mostly focused on the question of whether the officer should have immediately reacted using force towards Tamimi, or rather show restraint in front of the camera. The picture that was drawn was of a soldier innocently standing by, while two young girls are trying to confront him and cause him to react violently in front of the camera. But when looking at the facts it is clear the story is the other way around: the army was the one who provocatively entered the village to push the residents into a reaction to justify heavier oppression.
Several op-eds went further and portrayed sixteen year-old Ahed as a provocateur or a skilled actress who intentionally created situations to make IDF soldiers “look bad” in front of cameras. As if the Tamimi family invited armed soldiers to invade their home just so they would look bad, and as if there is a girl anywhere in the world who would choose to be born and live under a foreign occupation by a foreign army. Since Trump’s declaration, at least 610 Palestinians have been arrested by the Israeli army, over 170 of them are children and teenagers. Did all of them “orchestrate” their arrests just to make the soldiers look bad?
Most media outlets in Israel ignored the main issue: what was the reason the soldiers entered Nabi Saleh in the first place? Only a handful of journalists mentioned the popular protests in the village – the ones the soldiers were there to repress –against the occupation and the theft of the village well by the adjacent settlement, Halamish.
The water from the well, which lies on private Palestinian land, is used by the Palestinian farmers of Nabi Saleh, and the settlers overtaking it prevents them from working their land. The Israeli army is there to protect the theft of the spring by the settlers and to prevent residents from protesting against the injustice caused to them. Most of the time, quelling the demonstrations is done by use of brutal and often deadly force against unarmed civilians. As a result of that, two demonstrators were murdered in recent years – Mustafa and Rushdi Tamimi.
At the day of the filmed incident where Ahed and her cousin confront the soldiers, the army did not stop at suppressing the demonstrations by the spring, but invaded the village in order to make it clear to the residents that protesting will not be worthwhile. During the attempt to suppress the demonstrations against the army’s invasion of the village, Muhammad Tamimi was shot in the head. The essence of the army’s presence there is therefore to protect the settlers’ overtaking of a well that is used by the people of the area, and to enforce the oppressive order of the occupation, where Jewish settlers have a license to steal, while Palestinians are stripped of their right to even protest.
Solidarity and the future of the struggle
Ironically, the brutal and arbitrary arrests of the Tamimi women sparked the solidarity that the government and army had feared when the video of a young Palestinian women confronting an armed officer went viral. Workers and young people all over the world are following the arrest of the girl and demonstrations demanding her release were held in different countries.
This reaction reveals the limitations of power of the occupation regime when facing the civilian population and can definitely push more young people to rise up against it. “Ahed is a representative of a new generation of our people, of young freedom fighters… They must become the life line which will revive our revolution”, writes her father Ahed Tamimi, in a public letter to his arrested daughter.
The arrests of the Tamimi daughters are meant to put a “price tag” on resistance to the military regime in the occupied territories. Netanyahu’s government of settlements and big capital is arrogantly trying to break the resistance to the occupation using deadly oppression, and is trying to “manage the conflict” at the expense of the future of Palestinian workers and youth, but also of Israelis. There needs to be an end to the governmen'ts attacks, not the arrest of young Palestinian girls rising up against them. A fight to remove the army and the settlements from the occupied territories is a fight for peace.
• Yes to protest and solidarity demonstrations demanding to release the Tamimis.
• End the arbitrary arrests and incarceration without trial. End to administrative detentions. Protect the right of each prisoner for legal representation, to know the charges against them and for a fair trial.
• Get the military out of the occupied territories! End the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the settlements.
• Release all Palestinian political prisoners. A fair trial, in a designated procedure, supervised by independent workers' and human rights organizations from both sides of the conflict, for Israelis and Palestinians suspected of responsibility for horrors related to the conflict.
• Yes to an independent, democratic and socialist Palestinian state, with its capital in eastern Jerusalem, alongside a democratic, socialist Israel, with genuine equality of minorities, as part of the struggle for a socialist Middle East and regional peace.