Nariman Tamimi, 43, and her niece Nur Naji Tamimi, 21 appeared in an Israeli military court on Thursday, December 21, after a viral video was posted showing Nur and her 16 year old cousin, Ahed, Nariman’s daughter, kicking and slapping Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied territories. The Tamimi women were detained in a case that has ignited Israeli and Arab social media.
The village of Nabi Saleh has been the site of weekly demonstrations against the occupation since 2009, following a takeover of the village’s natural spring by settlers from the adjacent settlement of Halamish. Every Friday thereafter, the Israeli army has deployed troops to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the spring or the road used by the settlers. On Friday, December 15, 15 year old Mohammed Tamimi, a relative of Ahed and Nur, was shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet fired by Israeli troops during a weekly protest and was hospitalized in serious condition and unconscious.
Even though the Tamimis are well known in Nabi Saleh and the vicinity for their committed political activism and resistance to the occupation, and Ahed, in particular, appears on social media confronting Israeli solders from a much earlier age, presumably it was the wounding of Mohammed that prompted the assault by Nur and Ahed on the Israeli soldiers three days later, on Monday December 18. The video showing how the two young women approach a couple of Israeli soldiers and begin shoving, kicking and slapping them while recording the action on their mobile phones rapidly went viral on social media, and began making headlines on mainstream around the world almost immediately.
Israeli Border Police officers arrested Ahed in a night-time raid on the Tamimi family home in the early hours of Tuesday, December 19. Her mother, Nariman, was arrested while accompanying Ahed to an Israeli police station. On Tuesday night, Nur Tamimi, Ahed’s 21 year old cousin who appeared with her in the now-famous video, was also arrested. Following Ahed’s arrest, the Ofer Military Court extended her detention by five days even though she is a minor; in fact, the police had asked the court to extend her detention by 10 days.
The Thursday session in which Nariman and Nur Tamimi were arraigned was attended by Hadash MK Ayman Odeh, who heads the Joint List in the Knesset. Odeh said that he came as a sign of solidarity and support for the women, whom he described as freedom fighters. Odeh was greeted warmly by the detainees. “I’m with the Tamimis from Nabi Saleh. I was told by them that ‘the struggle is a way of life, for our children and for the older ones among us, who will not stop until the end of the occupation’” tweeted Odeh. During the past week all Hadash Members of the Knesset have demanded the release of the members of the Tammimi family who were imprisoned.
During a military court hearing on Wednesday, December 20, a police spokesperson said that Ahed’s father, Bassem Tamimi, would also be called in for questioning the following morning. Attorney Gaby Lasky, who is representing Ahed Tamimi, argued that even if the police intend to continue their investigation against her client, it is unnecessary to keep Ahed in prison. “The police claim this is a unique incident carried out shamelessly and spitefully. But obviously neither shamelessness nor spite justify imprisonment,” Lasky said. “Israeli hilltop youth settlers have engaged in similar behavior and the police and the army chose not to arrest them or to consider their behavior justification for keeping a minor remain incarcerated.”
Lasky also criticized the manner in which Ahed Tamimi was arrested, as well as the request by the police to carry out the hearing behind closed doors. “Given that the incident in question occurred during the day, it would have been possible to carry out the arrest right after the incident or a few hours later. Instead, the army and the police chose to carry out an illegal, offensive, nighttime raid.”
“It is unacceptable that the military authorities decided to video-tape the arrest of a minor and send the clip to media outlets as punishment,” Lasky said in response to the state’s request to hold the hearing behind closed doors. “Now the police are suddenly worried about protecting the rights of a minor… It seems that this is all to prevent anyone from seeing what happens inside the courtroom.”
Bassem Tamimi, Ahed’s father, said on Wednesday that he is proud of his daughter but is also worried about her. “I don’t trust this court because it is a part and parcel of the occupation — it helps the occupation and the occupier,” Tamimi said. “It is used to give legitimacy to the arrest of Ahed, a minor.” Noting that, in addition to the arrest of both his wife and daughter, he too has been summoned for questioning, and added: “I ask that they keep us all together; that we remain together as a family in jail.”