IDF arrests nine in Nebi Saleh raid, including cousin of soldier-slapper Tamimi

Army says predawn detentions came in response to increase in violent riots, rock-throwing attacks coming from the West Bank village

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

IDF soldiers conduct a raid on the Palestinian village of Nebi Saleh, which is a regular site of protests, arresting nine residents on February 26, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF soldiers conduct a raid on the Palestinian village of Nebi Saleh, which is a regular site of protests, arresting nine residents on February 26, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli military conducted a predawn raid in the restive Palestinian village of Nebi Saleh on Monday, arresting nine residents, the army said.

According to the left-wing B’Tselem human rights group, among the detainees was 15-year-old Muhammad Tamimi, who was apparently shot in the face with a rubber bullet by an IDF soldier late last year and whose cousin Ahed Tamimi is currently on trial for slapping an IDF soldier in December.

According to the army, in a total of nine suspects were arrested from the village for participating in violent demonstrations or taking part in “popular terrorism,” a catch-all term used by Israel to signify throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli troops or roadways.

The army said the raid was conducted “in light of the increase in the number of riots and popular terrorist acts coming from the village of Nebi Saleh.”

Elsewhere in the West Bank, IDF forces arrested seven other Palestinian suspects believed to have taken part in violent protests or rock throwing attacks and seized thousands of shekels in the city of Bethlehem earmarked to fund terror activities, the army said.

The military would not confirm that Muhammad Tamimi was among those arrested.

According to the family, on the morning of December 15, Muhammad Tamimi was shot in the head with a rubber bullet while taking part in a violent demonstration in the village. The round caused a severe head injury, requiring doctors to put him in a coma and remove a portion of his skull.

According to B’Tselem, “he is still waiting for surgery to replace the piece of his skull that was removed.”

Later that day, his cousin Ahed Tamimi, who has an extensive history of publicly clashing with the IDF, was filmed berating two soldiers who were standing in the garden outside her house, eventually slapping one of them across the face. The video of the encounter was shared widely on social media, turning the then-16-year-old into a cause celebre.

During her trial, which is being held behind closed doors, Ahed Tamimi pointed to what happened to Muhammad as the reason for her actions against the soldier.

“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,” the 16-year-old testified in December.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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