Israeli soldiers stand near the entrance of her house. The curly haired teenager asks them to leave as she stares them down with fierce might. She then pushes and kicks both soldiers who passively fend off the blows. She continues to slap them in attempt to fend her home.
On Tuesday, Ahed Tamimi was detained by the Israeli Army and Border Police in occupied West Bank. Palestinians and supporters of the Free Palestine Movement are celebrating the 16-year old girl as the female leader of the Palestinian resistance.
A Young Palestinian Activist by Birth
Ahed Tamimi is young Palestinian from Nebi Saleh, a village close to Ramallah. Since her youth, she has been praised by activists and the international community for her courage during protests in Nabi Saleh – protests which have been held every Friday in the village for years.
Tamimi started attending the protests when she was just nine years old. At age 11, she rose to international prominence after a video and series of photos were published of the young activist, alongside her mother and aunt, desperately attempting to save her injured brother Mohammad from being arrested by Israeli forces. Two years later, Ahed received the Handala Courage Award in Turkey.
A photograph of Ahed Tamimi standing up to Israeli soldiers already earned her an invitation to meet then-Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In 2015, another picture of the girl biting the hand of an Israeli soldier trying to arrest her brother, became a symbolic photo shared widely around the world.
The Tamimi family are well-known in their home village. As the daughter of Bassem Tamimi, her reputation as a young activist isn’t by chance. Her father has been investigated several times by the Israeli forces. In 2012, Bassem was even termed a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International, the international rights-advocacy group, during one of his several stints in Israeli prison.
The Arrest of A Heroic Palestinian Minor
Ahed’s arrest came a day after the video of the teen, confronting Israeli soldiers during the Friday protests in Nibe Saleh, went viral. According to Bassem, Ahed’s father, 30 Israeli soldiers raided their house at 3 am in the morning. Ahed was handcuffed and led by the soldiers into an Israeli army jeep. The family was prevented from following her outside. During the raid, the Israeli soldiers confiscated family’s laptop, cell phones and computers.
An Israeli army spokesperson accused Ahed of participating in a “violent” protest where “a soldier and a IDF officer were assaulted”. Yet, Bassem Tamimi says the Israeli narrative doesn’t mention that the video was shot immediately after Israeli forces fired tear-gas canisters at their home. Moments earlier, Ahed’s 14-year-old cousin, Mohammad, had been hit point-blank in the face by a rubber bullet. He had to be put under a medically induced coma, only waking up 72 hours later.
The detention of Tamimi highlights the issue of arrests of Palestinian minors. Defense for Children International-Palestine, a local organization, states that, according to the most recent statistics released by Israeli authorities, 331 Palestinians under the age of 18 were held in military detention as of May. It said that in 2016, an average of 375 minors were in detention each month. Ironically, only last year, Tamimi was denied a visa by the State Department in Washington after she was invited to be part of a speaking tour titled ‘No Child Behind Bars/Living Resistance’.
Ahed Tamimi is our Palestinian Heroine and we wish to see her lead the Palestinian Resistance Movement!
This article is written by Haya Wakil