Editorial

Ahed Tamimi Is the Victim

It seems the military prosecutors have gone out of their way to prepare a substantial case against a 16-year-old girl for slapping soldiers, a girl who has spent her whole life under an occupation

Sixteen-year-old Ahed Tamimi stands for a hearing in the military court at Ofer military prison in the West Bank village of Betunia on January 1, 2018.
AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP

On Monday, military prosecutors filed charges against Ahed Tamimi, the 16-year-old girl from Nabi Saleh in the West Bank, and against her mother, Nariman Tamimi. Ahed is charged with five counts of assaulting security forces and with incitement. Her mother is accused of photographing two incidents and incitement on social media.

Also indicted was a cousin, Nur Tamimi, who took part in the incident. It seems the military prosecutors went out of their way to prepare a substantial case against Ahed, who – since her arrest and the publishing of the video that went viral – has become a new heroine of the Palestinian struggle.

According to Ahed’s attorney, Gaby Lasky, the incident did not warrant a long detention. As she told Haaretz on Monday, “they held her to find material from past incidents, and indeed they filed an indictment concerning events that occurred a year and a half ago and earlier, which until her current arrest had not been reported and for which she had not been arrested. There were no complaints or reports about them.”

In the video, Ahed is seen slapping soldiers and trying to kick them, while they contain the girls’ violence and, commendably, don’t strike or detain them. Against the backdrop of life under the occupation and the usual pictures of violence between Palestinians and soldiers, these were hope-inspiring sights, which is how they were perceived around the world.

Still, many people in Israel saw things differently. Instead of restraint and self-control, the right wing saw frailty, cowardice and weakness. Following this criticism the army arrested the Tamimi girls.

Ahed’s father Bassem has written in Haaretz that although “it is Ahed’s first arrest, she is no stranger to your prisons.” He reminded readers that his daughter has spent her entire life under the oppressive shadow of Israeli jails, which have sucked in her father, mother, brother and friends at different periods. “So her own arrest was just a matter of time,” he added,” an inevitable tragedy waiting to happen.”

In stark contrast to the soldiers in the video, who did everything they could to block the tragic inertia of the occupation and the automatic cycle of violence, Israel seems bent on playing the villain in the Tamimi tragedy, dropping any pretense of trying to change the outcome.

Military prosecutors are determined to turn a few slaps by an adolescent who was born and grew up in an occupation into “aggravated assault.” They are using Tamimi to placate a vengeful public and send a deterrent message to young Palestinian men and women so they don’t dare rise up against the occupation.

Instead of putting an end to this wrong Israel perpetuates it. The problem is not Tamimi but the occupation. Not only was there no justification for indicting Tamimi, she should be released immediately.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel