News & Politics

Israel Victim Blames 16-Year-Old Ahed Tamimi

She stood up for her family and her people.

Photo Credit: Screenshot / YouTube

It’s been called the “slap heard around the world.” For wielding a bare-handed slap, Israeli soldiers ripped 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi out of her bed in the middle of the night, threw her into the back of a military jeep and locked her up in a prison isolation cell. Yesterday, the Israeli military court, notorious for its 99.7 percent conviction rate, indicted Ahed on 12 charges.

Israel claims Ahed is a violent and dangerous criminal. The crimes she is charged with, such as assault of a soldier, stone throwing and incitement, could result in a lengthy prison sentence.  

Before we consider whether Ahed deserves a life behind bars, we must first take a closer look at what is a criminal action and what is a life of enduring state violence. Is the criminal a 16-year-old girl who dares to raise her hand to an armed Israeli soldier, or an ongoing illegal occupation that places soldiers in the lives of unarmed teenage girls?

In 2011, Ahed Tamimi was 10 years old when Israeli soldiers arrested her father and charged him with the crime of organizing weekly demonstrations in their village to oppose the theft of its land for the benefit of a neighboring Israeli settlement. It would be 13 months before he was released and she would see her father again.

That same year, Israeli soldiers shot Mustafa Tamimi, Ahed’s 28-year-old cousin, in the face with a high-velocity tear gas canister. Half of Mustafa’s face was destroyed. He died the next morning at the hospital.

The following year, when Ahed was 11 years old, Israeli soldiers shot her uncle, Rushdi Tamimi, in his lower back with live ammunition. The bullet lodged in his stomach and he died the next morning in the hospital.

Ahed was 13 when Israeli soldiers shot her mother, Nariman Tamimi, in the leg with a 22-caliber bullet. Her mother had to rely on crutches for a number of years until she regained use of her legs.

These are only a few of the tragedies of violence that Ahed has witnessed and suffered as a child growing up under Israel occupation. 

Just before the “slap heard round the world” on December 15, 2017, Ahed’s 14-year-old cousin, Mohammed Tamimi was hit in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet. During the incident, Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters at Ahed’s house, shattering many of its windows. 

Mohammed was finally released from the hospital last week. Stitches and deep purple bruising cover the front of his face as he recovers.

Israel is notorious for claiming it is being oppressed by the people it holds hostage. In this case, it has taken aim at a 16-year-old girl, claiming she is a larger-than-life threat to them and their first-class military might. As Ahed’s trial continues, we must remember who is the occupier and who is the occupied. We must demand freedom for Ahed and for all of Palestine, and understand why a 16-year-old girl would want to hit the police who are occupying her land and home and killing her family.

Ariel Gold is a staff member of CodePink. She brought Bassem Tamimi, Ahed's father, to the U.S. for a speaking tour in 2015.

Taylor Morley is the coalition and locals coordinator for CodePink and a steering committee member of #MeToo in Los Angeles.

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