On December 15, 2017, 15-year-old Mohammed Tamimi sustained a severe head wound during a demonstration in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.
Like most Fridays in Nabi Saleh, demonstrators headed toward the village’s fresh water spring which Israeli settlers took over a number of years ago. The Israeli soldiers who came to suppress the protest that day did not make do with just defending the expropriated spring or the nearby settlement of Halamish. Instead they invaded the village and commandeered a home, from which they opened fire at young demonstrators who threw stones at them.
An Israeli army rubber-coated metal bullet struck Mohammed Tamimi in the head, and he was hospitalized in serious condition. We know this because the hospital produced a detailed report of the medical procedure, a CT scan of his head showing the bullet lodged inside, a photo of the bullet after it was removed in surgery, and the first-hand testimonies of those who witnessed the incident
A couple of days after the shooting, Mohammed’s cousin Ahed Tamimi tried to expel soldiers from the courtyard of her family home — and the rest is history. We know that just hours after the video of her slapping the soldiers went viral, 17-year-old Ahed was pulled out of her bed and arrested by Israeli soldiers. She is still in prison awaiting the resumption of her military trial.
In an overnight raid in Nabi Saleh last Monday, Israeli soldiers arrested Mohammed Tamimi and eight other Palestinian youths. Mohammed was interrogated by Israeli police — without a parent or lawyer present — and was released after a few hours.
According to Major General Yoav “Poli” Mordechai, the head of Israel’s military government charged with ruling over Palestinians in the West Bank, during his interrogation Mohammed Tamimi confessed that his head injury was the result of a bicycle accident. Major General Mordechai released a post in Arabic on his Facebook page Monday night claiming that the Tamimi family has a culture of “lying and inciting.”
“Amazingly, today, the boy Mohammed al-Tamimi himself confessed to the police and COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) that in December he was injured in his skull while riding his bicycle, as a result of falling and hitting his head against the handlebar. The culture of lies and Palestinian incitement never ceases among the young and the old in the Tamimi family,” Mordechai wrote.
Hadash MKs Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, and MK Dov Khenin, attacked Mordechai for his claim that the boy’s disfigurement was not the result of a rubber bullet but of a bike accident. The family meanwhile provided a copy of the report from the Ramallah hospital and released an English copy of his medical records regarding the injury from Istishari Medical Hospital in Ramallah, which stated that it had treated him for a bullet injury.
“Patient underwent craniotomy with bone fragments gently removed, dura sutured to the bone edges around the window,” the medical record stated. “Patient also underwent bullet removal with left maxillary sinus repair. Wound closed by layers, patient intubated and transferred to ICU,” it said. MK Odeh added that there were also a number of witnesses to the shooting.
In response to the allegations of Major General Mordechai, the Tamimi family said: “Israel has gone out of its mind in its attempt to discredit our family. What began as a far-fetched claim that we are not a real family has descended into an attempt to deny documented reality. Poli Mordechai and the State of Israel have proven only one thing – that they will stoop to any depth to harm our just struggle for freedom and an end to the occupation.”
Attorney Gaby Lasky, who represents members of the Tamimi family including Ahed, said that Muhammad was questioned without the presence of a parent or any other adult. He is still recovering from his surgery and is expected to undergo another operation next week, she said. “I sent the police Muhammad’s medical records and reports, so they would understand his condition,” she said.
Lasky said she has not seen Muhammad’s confession but said the teen was suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder related to the shooting and appears to have referenced a bicycle accident to ensure that he would be released. The cynical exploitation of this situation by a major general in the IDF only shows how far the Israeli authorities are willing to go to harm the Tamimi family, she said.