An Israeli military court indicted on Monday, January 1, a teenage Palestinian girl who was videoed kicking and slapping Israeli soldiers in front of her village home in the occupied West Bank. The incident, which occurred two weeks ago, has made 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi a hero and a symbol of Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation.
The 12 charges filed against Tamimi in an Israeli military court relate to the events depicted in the December 15 video, as well as five other incidents which took place over the past two years. Ahed’s mother, Nariman, was also charged with incitement as was her cousin Nur. Following the incident, far-right Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett told the Israeli army radio station that the women involved “should finish their lives in prison.”
The video shows Ahed Tamimi and her cousin telling two Israeli soldiers to leave the home and then begin pushing, slapping and kicking them. The soldiers moved backward after Ahed Tamimi’s mother, Nariman, got involved. The soldiers responded with marked restraint, something that particularly infuriated right-wing Israelis who were outraged by what they interpreted as signs of weakness on the part of the soldiers.
Tamimi’s father, Bassem, also an activist against the occupation, has said that the incident took place on their family property three days after soldiers had fired a rubber bullet at close range in the face of Mohammed Tamimi, Ahed’s 15 year old cousin, critically wounding him. Palestinian Surgeons later succeeded in removing the bullet that had lodged in Mohammed’s brain after entering his mouth, according to hospital officials.
Ahed Tamimi’s Israeli lawyer, Gaby Lasky, said it was “odd” that prosecutors decided to file charges on previous incidents against her client only after the December 15 incident was videoed and created a public uproar in Israel. She maintained that “[b]ecause Ahed suddenly became a kind of symbol of Palestinian resistance, the military wanted to find a way to keep her locked up for as long a time as possible.”
Basem Tamimi said he fears that his daughter will be made an example of and will face lengthy imprisonment because the issue has become “a case of public opinion” in Israel. Hadash MK Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List, the third largest bloc in the Knesset, said, “This legal process is entirely motivated by the desire to seek revenge against this courageous young woman whose behavior has harmed nothing, other than the pride of the occupier.”
Responding to the indictments, Hadash MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) told the Knesset plenum that Tamimi deserves a medal of valor “for the bravery she displayed while trying to evict the soldiers from her home.” Jabareen said “I remind everyone: Prior to the altercation, Israeli soldiers came to her home and fired rubber bullets, seriously wounding her cousin. What did they expect – to be greeted with flowers and a warm welcome?”