Soldier-slapping Palestinian girl remanded for another 4 days

Military court rules that Ahed Tamimi’s mother and cousin, who also featured in widely shared video from Nebi Saleh, to remain in custody as well

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

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

A military court on Monday extended the remand of a 16-year-old Palestinian girl, who was filmed slapping IDF soldiers, by an additional four days. Ahed Tamimi’s mother Nariman and cousin Nour, who were also featured in the widely shared video, had their remands extended until Thursday, as well.

In making his decision, Judge Haim Balilty noted police testimony according to which the three suspects were refusing to cooperate with the investigation and that they are seeking charges for a series of provocations the Tamimis have allegedly carried out over the past several years.

While Balilty said he had taken the age of the youngest suspect into account, he ruled to remand all three, in order to give police enough time to complete their investigation.

Footage from the December 15 encounter in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh shows Ahed and Nour approaching two Israeli soldiers, before shoving, kicking and slapping them, while filming on their mobile phones.

They then move backwards after Nariman arrives and begins pushing the soldiers, herself.

The armed soldiers did not respond in the face of what appeared to be an attempt to provoke them.

Ahed, the primary suspect of the case, has been accused of “assaulting a soldier, harming the security of the area, incitement, and other felonies,” according to court documents.

In her version of the incident, shared in front of the court during a hearing last week, Ahed said that the same soldiers featured in the video had shot her cousin in the head with a rubber bullet an hour prior to 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,” the 16-year-old testified.

Photos of Ahed’s cousin Muhammad Tamimi have been widely shared on Palestinian social media, showing the young boy’s face badly bruised and scarred. The Palestinian Ma’an news outlet reported that he was in an induced coma due to the injuries.

Speaking with Israel Radio following Monday’s ruling, Ahed’s father, Bassem, called the hearing “a theater of the absurd.”

“The Israeli courts have become part of the law enforcement apparatus that operates in the service of the occupation,” he said. “The decision is the result of propaganda coming from the extreme right in Israel.”

Ahed’s attorney Gaby Lasky told The Times of Israel that Monday’s ruling is simply punitive, given that the police have already investigated the December 15 incident in its entirety. “The fact that a 16-year-old girl managed to bring the occupation into the living room of all citizens after years of neglect played a significant role in her arrest,” she said.

Lasky added that her client should have been released under restrictive conditions.

Four days after the incident, Israeli security forces arrested Ahed at her home, confiscating cellphones, laptops, and cameras.

Ahed first appeared before the Ofer Military Court last Tuesday. Explaining her decision to remand her at the time, Judge Lidor Drachman of the Judea region Juvenile Military Court said that while Ahed Tamimi did not pose any danger, concern that the teen would try to obstruct the investigation justified keeping her locked up.

Gaby Lasky, attorney of 16-year-old Palestinian girl, Ahed Tamimi, speaks with Tamimi’s father, Bassem, outside the Ofer Military Court on December 20, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Lasky then told The Times of Israel that the military court was investigating previous altercations the teenager had had with Israeli soldiers, which also played into the decision to have her remand extended.

Nabi Saleh — 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Ramallah — has been a frequent staging ground for clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians, specifically members of the Tamimi family, which has a history of involvement in highly publicized clashes with the IDF.

In August 2015, an IDF soldier was caught on film trying to arrest Ahed’s 12-year-old Muhammad Tamimi, who had been throwing rocks during a violent protest.

In 2012, Ahed gained fame among Palestinian activists for an incident in which she led a group of children, including her younger brother, in arguing with Israeli soldiers. In a video of the incident, she can be seen repeatedly raising her balled fist at a soldier, poised to hit him, but never actually doing so.

Videos of the December 15 alleged assault were widely picked up by Israeli media, which often accuse Palestinian protesters of seeking to provoke the army into responses, only to be filmed.

Israeli politicians hailed the restraint of the soldiers as evidence of the military’s values, though some called for tough responses in the face of seeming humiliation.

Palestinians on social media criticized Ahed’s arrest in the middle of the night, and have asserted it is the people’s right to resist military occupation.

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