Abbas meets with family of soldier-slapping teen

Speaking with Tamimis, PA president says ‘peaceful popular resistance’ against Israeli military rule is a powerful weapon

Khaled Abu Toameh is the Palestinian Affairs correspondent for The Times of Israel

Ahed Tamimi, at the Ofer military court in the West Bank, on December 25, 2017. (Flash90)
Ahed Tamimi, at the Ofer military court in the West Bank, on December 25, 2017. (Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met on Monday with the family of Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teenager who was filmed slapping and shoving IDF soldiers in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.

It was the first meeting of its kind between Abbas and the Tamimi family since the arrest of the 17-year-old following the December 15 incident.

Abbas saluted the courage of Ahed and her family “in confronting the might of the occupation and the assaults carried out by its soldiers,” according to a statement released by the PA president’s office after the meeting.

Abbas said that the Tamimi family’s actions were an indication of the Palestinian people’s clinging to their land, the statement added.

“The peaceful popular resistance against the occupation is a powerful weapon in the hands of the Palestinian people and exposes the falsity of the occupation,” Abbas was quoted as telling the Tamimi family.

“It shows the entire world the brutality of the occupation and the right of our people to self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state like the rest of the people of the world.”

Last month, Abbas praised Tamimi for the first time while speaking at a conference on “global support for Jerusalem” in the Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

“She attacked and struck an armed soldier and didn’t fear. Now she sits in prison,” Abbas said, implying that he considered slapping soldiers an act of “peaceful resistance.”

The Palestinian teen, who was arrested by Israeli forces after the video of her slapping and shoving IDF soldiers went viral, is slated to have her military court trial begin on February 13 after considerable delay.

Tamimi celebrated her 17th birthday in prison last week after a military judge ordered her remanded until the end of proceedings against her.

The same ruling was given against Ahed’s mother, Nariman, who also appeared in the widely shared footage. Ahed’s cousin Nour was released after being charged for her participation in the December 15 incident.

Tamimi told the court that the same soldiers featured in the video had shot her cousin in the head with a rubber bullet an hour before the filmed encounter. “Then I saw the same soldiers who hit my cousin, this time in front of my house. I could not keep quiet and I responded as I did,” she testified.

The three Tamimis are facing aggravated assault charges. Ahed’s 12-count indictment also includes a statement she gave to her mother, who was filming the incident on Facebook Live. Immediately following the squabble, Nariman asked her daughter what kind of message she wanted to convey to viewers.

“I hope that everyone will take part in the demonstrations as this is the only means to achieve the result,” she said. “Our strength is in our stones. Whether it is stabbings or suicide bombings or throwing stones, everyone must do their part and we must unite in order for our message to be heard that we want to liberate Palestine,” Tamimi said.

She has since become a cause célèbre for Palestinian supporters, and rallies have been held in several locations calling for her release. Many Palestinians see her as bravely standing up to military control over the West Bank, while Israelis accuse her family of using her as a pawn.

Jacob Magid and Dov Lieber contributed to this report.

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