Meet the teenage girls behind the viral photo from Nabi Saleh

Israel/Palestine
on 40 Comments

“The pictures went viral. That’s important,” Ahed Tamimi, 14, said, “so the world can see what happens.” Ahed is the blond teen on the far left of the widely-published photo of a violent confrontation between Palestinian women and children, and an Israeli soldier in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. In the frame Ahed is seen biting the soldier after he hits her in the face. Since the now infamous images were first published, the Tamimis, and Ahed in particular, have been visited by droves of journalists wanting to know how the Palestinian family felt when they saw 12-year old Mohammed Tamimi, also known as Abu Yazan, slammed to the ground.

Palestinians rush an Israeli soldier detaining a boy during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, August 28, 2015. (Photo: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

Palestinians rush an Israeli soldier detaining a boy during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, August 28, 2015. (Photo: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

In the photographs the Palestinian girls and women look panicked, and the Israeli soldier’s expression is frantic. Underneath him is young Abu Yazan who looks as though he is in excruciating pain, pulled and yanked by the soldier, his arm in a cast as it is pressed into a boulder. The four Tamimi women—Nariman and Nawal, middle-aged mothers, and the girls, Ahed and Nour, teenagers—had rushed the soldier who was attempting to detain Abu Yazan for stone throwing during a weekly protest against settlement land confiscations.

“When you see someone in your family in danger you don’t have time to think about it,” Nour Tamimi, 16, said as we sat on the patio of Ahed’s house. She is Ahed’s cousin and on the far-right wearing a black top in the viral images.

“He was beating me and I saw his hand on my face, so I bit him,” the soft-spoken Ahed added.

tamimi.03

Nour Tamimi (L) and Ahed Tamimi (R). (Photo: Allison Deger)

tamimi02

Ahed Tamimi. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Ahed and Nour appeared painfully shy while we talked, Ahed more than Nour. Both were dressed in jeans and a t-shirts, Ahed’s with a print of “Lola Bunny,” Bugs Bunny’s love interest. Ahed likes to play soccer and dance. She studies English in school, but is sheepish about using it. When she grows up, she wants to be a lawyer. The two fidgeted on a set of outdoor sofas, then moved into the kitchen to make an evening snack, sandwiches with lebane, a thick Middle Eastern yoghurt, and shata, a red spicy garnish. While preparing the meal, they giggled like young girls do. The night was cool and breezy, a welcome break from a heat wave that had recently covered the region. The laughter from the pair, and arrival of dozens of visitors from towns across the West Bank gave an almost festive mood to the night. It was a far cry from the tumult that had passed four days earlier.

Even so, downhill, the Israeli military was perched at a flying checkpoint, searching cars entering and exiting Nabi Saleh. Some residents were forbidden from leaving the village, including Ahed’s parents on Tuesday morning. The couple was detained for an hour and a half, before Israeli forces sent them back inside their town.

When the photos broke, international media captioned the soldiers’ use of force against a child with a broken arm as a ‘David and Goliath’ tale, while Israeli media was appalled that a group of females had put a soldier in danger. The women bit, scratched, slapped, and punched the soldier. Then they tore the balaclava off of his face. Adjacent although not pictured, and not included in a video that also captured the weekend scene, was Bassem Tamimi (husband of Nariman and father of Mohammed and Ahed) and his youngest son nine-year old Salam Tamimi who was also struck by soldiers.

In the aftermath Israel’s minister of culture and sports Miri Regev called for looser regulations on the use of live-fire for soldiers, decrying the “humiliation” the pictures brought to the Israeli army.

Yet for the Tamimi family the incident turned internet spectacle was just another Friday living under occupation, no more no less. It began with a demonstration and ended with five members of their family in the hospital. Nariman has asthma and uses crutches, after she was shot by Israeli soldiers months ago in her knee cap. She needed treatment from strikes to her injury. Bassem, Ahed, and Abu Yazan also suffered blows to their bodies. As for Salam, he was shot with a rubber bullet leaving his toe broken.

Uniformly the whole of the Tamimi family was surprised that so many from the foreign press had arrived to follow-up on the iconic pictures. What’s more, that the protest warranted attention from the Israeli government.

“They made such a big deal about this soldier’s ‘humiliation,’ but they are killing Palestinian people,” Nour said, making a reference to Regev’s statement. To the teens of Nabi Saleh, the Israeli army is already viewed as trigger-happy. In 2013 when journalist and author Ben Ehrenreich wrote a feature on Nabi Saleh for the New York Times Magazine, Nariman estimated 100 from the village have been arrested, and nearly 500 injured during demonstrations. In recent years, two of the town’s members—also part of the Tamimi clan—were killed by Israeli soldiers. Mustafa Tamimi, 27, was struck in the head at close range with a tear gas canister in 2011 and Rushdi Tamimi, 31, was killed with live fire the following year.

For young people in Nabi Salah, Mustafa and Rushdie’s death have had a lasting imprint and the hardships have made them grow up faster. “After six years we started to know how to deal,” said Nour, indicating the length of time Nabi Saleh’s resident have conducted weekly protests, which began in 2009 after settlers’ closed off access to the village’s natural spring.

“Three and a half years ago my friend died from Israeli soldiers, so I became stronger. So I said to myself ‘why don’t I be a journalist’ that sends the message of all children, to all people in the world,” Janna Jihad, 9, said, a cousin and close friend of Ahed. “Mustafa,” Jihad continued, “he was a friend to all of the children in Nabi Saleh.”

Jihad, a spunky and confident girl who was raised between Nabi Saleh and West Palm Beach, Florida then pronounced, “I’m the smallest journalist in the world!” She has a Facebook page with close to 20,000 followers who read her updates and view her pictures of Nabi Saleh’s protests. Her timeline is filled with images of her relatives and classmates running from tear gas typically fired at protesters during the weekly marches. When she grows up, Jihad said she wants to report for CNN or Fox, to have a platform to reach people about the ways children suffer from occupation. Mustafa’s killing, Nariman’s shooting, Salam’s shooting, the shooting of another relative three weeks before who was struck with five bullets in the stomach, had left Jihad with the impression that her village is in chaos “everyday, everyday, everyday. So it’s not a life.”

As we spoke Ahed re-joined the group of children that had gathered on a hillside overlooking the settlement of Halamish, built on Nabi Saleh’s land. The settlement was established by hardliners from Gush Emunim in the 1970s and since has flourished into a pristine suburb equipped with swimming pools, sidewalks and armed guards at the front gates. In Nabi Saleh, most of the roads are unpaved. The disparity in wealth is blisteringly apparent.

Back when Bassem, Ahed’s father, was young, he used to play on the slopes that is now covered in cookie cutter Halamish homes. The low valley was clothed in wheat fields and patch vegetable gardens.

“There’s a relationship between us and this land,” he said, between conversations with neighbors about a future one-state or two-state in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory and how to broaden the non-violent struggle of weekly demonstrations. Bassem supports one-state, what he sees as a logical endpoint to the occupation that began when he was an infant. His hope is that demonstrations like Nabi Saleh will spread like wildfire and usher in the conditions, and urgency, to end an occupation that commentators are saying has shifted from temporary to permanent. Until then he will keep on protesting every Friday—come what may.

 

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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40 Responses

  1. Chisna
    September 1, 2015, 3:48 pm

    It takes a lot of courage to do what these two
    young ladies did…. I applaud and support peaceful
    protests by the Palestinian people. Every single U.S.
    president going back to Johnson has voiced their opposition
    to the occupation and settlement of Palestinian land.
    And it’s way past time that the U.S., begin to back up those
    words with something like sanctions against Israel.

    And what kind of inhuman monster ( Miri Regev ) supports live-fire
    in cases like this because she feels soldiers are being humiliated.
    But she can’t understand why the Palestinian people protest the theft
    of their land and why they might even throw rocks at those occupying
    and building settlements on their land ?

  2. ritzl
    September 1, 2015, 5:58 pm

    Probably just me, but Ahed looks a bit like the [woman who modeled for] the Statue of Liberty.

    http://images.nymag.com/daily/intel/20090508_liberty_250x375.jpg

  3. JLewisDickerson
    September 1, 2015, 6:07 pm

    RE: “In the aftermath Israel’s minister of culture and sports Miri Regev called for looser regulations on the use of live-fire for soldiers, decrying the ‘humiliation’ the pictures brought to the Israeli army.” ~ Allison Deger

    SOME BACKGROUND: “Israeli Troops Furious at New West Bank Rules of Engagement”, by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, August 12, 2015
    Troops Can’t Shoot Fleeing Palestinians in the Back Anymore

    Israeli soldiers are acting with outrage tonight after news that the military has temporarily revised the rules of engagement for combat soldiers in the occupied West Bank, centering on efforts to prevent gunfire except in genuine cases of threats to the lives of soldiers.

    The ban, for instance, explicitly forbids shooting fleeing rock-throwers in the back, and likewise warns that if a car runs through a checkpoint without trying to run people over, the military isn’t to just fire willy-nilly into the sides of it. This is a huge change for the Israeli military’s standard operations in the West Bank.

    Israeli soldiers termed the new rules “bizarre,” saying they are all in “total shock” at the sudden efforts to tamp down shooting at Palestinians, and with several saying they believe that the reduction in shootings will lead to more terror attacks across Israel.

    The Israeli military has downplayed the change, saying the new specific rules were only meant to clarify what was supposed to be policy all along, that troops not fire unless there is a “clear and immediate danger.” Given how broadly soldiers have previously interpreted their freedom to fire on Palestinians, and done so with impunity, it seems the clarification was a long-time coming.

    SOURCE – http://news.antiwar.com/2015/08/12/israeli-troops-furious-at-new-west-bank-rules-of-engagement/

  4. a blah chick
    September 1, 2015, 9:14 pm

    Zionism started this fight, the Tamimi women are just trying to finish it.

  5. echinococcus
    September 2, 2015, 1:18 am

    Alison,

    Take good care of yourself. You are irreplaceable.
    And thanks.

  6. Accentitude
    September 2, 2015, 5:37 am

    “In the aftermath Israel’s minister of culture and sports Miri Regev called for looser regulations on the use of live-fire for soldiers, decrying the “humiliation” the pictures brought to the Israeli army.”

    Oh of course, to avoid future embarrassment in situations where an armed occupation soldier in the most moral army in the world might find himself a victim of evil terrorist women and children while in the process of gently apprehending a little boy with a broken arm, there should be looser restrictions that enable said soldier to just outright shoot the women and children. You see, if they’re all dead then we can just say that they were involved in “terrorist actions” and naturally they can’t defend themselves or dispute the “evidence” of Israeli internal investigations. After all, the dead can’t speak. It’s the most logical solution.

    Of course it might just be easier to pack up and get the hell out of Nabi Saleh and the rest of the West Bank to avoid this “humiliation” but whom are we kidding?

  7. Accentitude
    September 2, 2015, 5:40 am

    Oh Jihad, I admire your courage but once you learn the ways of the MSM, you will surely NOT want to work for CNN or Fox.

  8. Kathleen
    September 2, 2015, 8:07 am

    Thanks Allison. These young people are remarkable. Turning sadness, depression, oppression into action against the oppressor. Their story should go viral,

    Halamish has to go. The illegal settlers have to go.

    What brutal, soul less people the illegal settlers are. And the Israeli government supports and protects them. Disgusting

    • oldgeezer
      September 2, 2015, 10:07 am

      Brutal souless. Yes as well as immoral and violently criminal.

      But too much of a free paalss for rogue regimes that have governed the state of Israel.

      They don’t merely support the settler thugs. The settlers are there by way of government policy and intent. They publicly discuss their intent to steal more land. They publicly incite the terrorist violence pepetrated by the illegal settlers.

      Vile and viscious.

  9. Kathleen
    September 2, 2015, 8:20 am

    Allison does Jihad have her own fb page? Went looking.

    Went to the Nali Sabah fb page and they announce that you tube has taken down the video that went viral because it violates their “Community Guidelines.”

    So who got to you tube? Used to be able to access many clips of horrific Israeli abuse on Palestinians including children. Have not checked in awhile.

    • echinococcus
      September 2, 2015, 9:19 am

      Obviously the community guideline under which the you tube video was taken down says:
      “Videos that provoke the media ownership to react in last-ditch defense of their personal politics to take down material destructive of Zionism contribute to confirm and feed the despicable antisemitic trope of Zionist control of the media and will therefore be taken down.”

    • chrissie
      September 2, 2015, 2:17 pm

      Janna Jihad

    • Annie Robbins
      September 2, 2015, 4:50 pm

      kathleen, when you went looking did you google “janna Jihad facebook” . because it popped right up for me.

      https://www.facebook.com/Janna.Jihad

      • Kathleen
        September 2, 2015, 4:57 pm

        Nope did not have the Janna piece. Thanks

  10. Citizen
    September 2, 2015, 9:36 am

    Some day one might wake up and find the mainstream media in US will actually put any kind of Palestinian violence in Palestinian daily life and history context? Those old women and girls didn’t just decide to attack that IDF soldier for the fun of it or because they were jew haters. And that boy with the broken arm didn’t just decide to use his good arm to throw stones because he was some sort of juvenile delinquent. Ditto those rockets fired into Israel, and so on, and so on.

    • Sibiriak
      September 2, 2015, 9:58 am

      Citizen: Some day one might wake up and find the mainstream media in US will actually put any kind of Palestinian violence in Palestinian daily life and history context?

      —————

      Unlikely. They never did it for the Vietnamese.

  11. Rodneywatts
    September 2, 2015, 1:37 pm

    Thank you Allison once again for great journalism. Again my admiration for the Tamimis and all who are resisting non violently. I can only agree with comments already made and, yes, it is high time the US AND EU really did what should have been done decades ago!

    Whilst I totally support the BDS route as in South Africa I fear that, just as in SA, and sometimes forgotten, there was armed resistance that played an important role. Perhaps the American government should be reminded that their puppets in Angola were routed by Cubans and SWAPO forces bloodied the noses of the SA equivalent of the IDF. Also the economic mess in Zimbabwe today as reported by James North http://mondoweiss.net/2015/08/redoubled-enthusiasm-israelpalestine is a result of not dealing with colonialism quickly enough. It doesn’t take much to appreciate the parallels between the regions of Southern Africa and I/P & ME. Time is of the essence.

  12. DoubleStandard
    September 2, 2015, 3:48 pm

    Funny. They look whiter than most Israelis. A lot whiter, really.

    Certainly upends the “evil white colonizer” versus “poor brown victim” paradigm.

    This must be disappointing to their many fans around the world!

    • Annie Robbins
      September 2, 2015, 4:03 pm

      This must be disappointing to their many fans around the world!

      that they look white? i doubt it. educated people know palestinians come in all shades.

    • Shingo
      September 2, 2015, 6:00 pm

      They look whiter than most Israelis. A lot whiter, really

      Probably because they don’t have access to any beaches where they can lounge around and work in their tans.

      Certainly upends the “evil white colonizer” versus “poor brown victim” paradigm

      It also upends the paradigm that they are just Arabs.

      • echinococcus
        September 3, 2015, 3:01 am

        Shingo,

        It also upends the paradigm that they are just Arabs.

        That was just the essential racism of a Zionist ignoramus.
        Arab are all people who have Arabic as a mother tongue, and they sure come in all goddam colors.

    • talknic
      September 3, 2015, 12:12 am

      @ DoubleStandard “Funny. They look whiter than most Israelis. A lot whiter, really”

      Yes. There’s a lot of Arab blood in Israelis, even Jewish Israelis http://wp.me/pDB7k-19Y

      “Certainly upends the “evil white colonizer” versus “poor brown victim” paradigm”

      Two out of millions … Uh huh

      “This must be disappointing to their many fans around the world!”

      To a moron who thinks two out of millions is significant

    • Mooser
      September 3, 2015, 12:22 am

      “They look whiter than most Israelis. A lot whiter, really”

      Gosh, Double Standard, you may be right. How do you account for those girls looking “whiter than most Israelis”?

    • diasp0ra
      September 3, 2015, 5:24 am

      What a nonsense post. Given the history of Palestine we have had so many peoples come and settle down and become part of the local community, from African pilgrams to Crusaders.

      You will find all shades of people in Palestine.

      Besides that, whiteness as a social construct does not refer solely to the shade of your skin but rather to a system of privilege and discrimination. It’s racialized superiority that dehumanizes outsider groups and keeps the power in one place.

      For example: The Irish weren’t considered white in the USA when they first arrived because they were poor and fresh off the boat immigrants, even though their skin is not different than those coming from England or the Netherlands.

      • Susan A
        September 4, 2015, 7:12 am

        Brilliant response diasp0ra! I remember when Ahed first came to prominence on video, some of the Zionists thought she was Israeli, even though, as we know, and as stated further up thread, there are many Arab Israeli Jews. Jewish Israeli, that is. It’s always annoyed me how they go on about the ‘Arabs’; a friend of mine actually calls himself an ‘Arab Jew’, quite rightly. But then, what would we expect from ‘double standard’! I love the irony of some of the idiotic names they use: ‘jackdaw’: too right!

    • Marnie
      September 3, 2015, 9:17 am
    • talknic
      September 4, 2015, 10:52 pm

      @ DoubleStandard “Funny. They look whiter than most Israelis. A lot whiter, really”

      Hooked nose too …

    • gamal
      September 5, 2015, 2:31 am

      “whiter than most Israelis” whiteness is its own reward? Or have brown/black Palestinians won something?

      Idiocy and ignorance combined with sneering, you realize that you are only revealing that you fail to understand some of the simple words you are using, your stupidity is eerily self-satisfied.

      Could some one have a word? perhaps Allison could give him a call, some one is going to have to do so. Rather you than me.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 5, 2015, 2:39 am

      • Annie Robbins
        September 5, 2015, 2:56 am

        “whiter than most Israelis”

        maybe those white palestinians aren’t really palestinian like those white jews aren’t really jewish.

        hmm, let me chew on that for awhile.

      • just
        September 5, 2015, 11:19 am

        Annie~ thanks for posting that video of courageous and steadfast Ahed Tamimi.

        She’s an inspiration. May she live a long and free life in Palestine, her home!

  13. b.grand
    September 3, 2015, 1:38 am

    Bassem Tamimi, father of these 2 girls, is coming to the US (if Israel doesn’t arrest him).

    http://bassemtamimi2015speakingtour.weebly.com/locations-and-dates.html

    BASSEM TAMIMI 2015 US SPEAKING TOUR

    Home

    About

    Locations and Dates

    Links

    Contact

    Please contact [email protected] to have Bassem speak in your city during one of the dates below.

    September 7-8 Green Bay WI Healing America’s Wounds: A Moral Vision of Reconciliation Conference

    September 9-10 Notre Dame

    September 11-13 Chicago contact: [email protected]

    September 14 Woodstock, NY 7:00 pm RSVP to [email protected] for details

    September 15 New York City 6:30 PM The New School 6 East 16th, Room 1103
    contact [email protected]

    September 17 Ithaca, NY 5:00-7:30 PM Unitarian Church, church parlor 208 E. Buffalo St
    vegan Palestinian dinner 5:00, talk begins at 5:30
    contact: [email protected]

    September 18 12:00 PM Tompkins Cortland Community College, Cortland NY
    contact: [email protected]

    September 19-20 Pittsburg, PA contact: [email protected]

    September 21 7:00 PM Hosted by Amnesty International. Ocean City, NJ Location TBA

    September 23-27 Atlanta US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation Organizers
    contact: [email protected]

    September 27-29 Los Angeles contact: [email protected]

    September 30-October 2 Bay Area, California contact: [email protected]

    October 2-4 New Mexico contact: [email protected]

    October 5 Tufts University contact: [email protected]
    October 6 Boston contact: [email protected]
    October 7 Cambridge Friends Meeting House contact: [email protected]

  14. talknic
    September 3, 2015, 5:17 am

    When someone like Rachel Corrie or Ahed dares displays their bravery for a just cause against Israel’s military might, Israel’s pathetic apologists are sent into a venomous, hatefilled, spittle flecked, vein popping, bug eyed, out of control spin.

    Simply whispering “Rachel Corrie” is enough to send them apoplectic, casting all semblance of sanity and rationality they might have had aside. Apart from the spittle, I used to be a little concerned it might induce a well deserved heart attack :-)

    Now a days I simply carry a kerchief and have the emergency number at the top of my dial list. I’ve never had to dial it, makes me wonder what pumps their blood around.

    • Susan A
      September 4, 2015, 7:14 am

      +1 talknic! :)

    • Accentitude
      September 14, 2015, 3:50 am

      Indeed. Anything that doesn’t fall in line with the Zionist narrative is cast aside as a fabrication of “Pallywood.” There are actually idiots on other Zionist “news” sites (thank God, not here) that think that the Israeli soldier with his arm around that boy’s neck is just a Palestinian actor….even though his identity was verified and his own Israeli Jewish father made a statement about him to Haaretz and other Israeli media.

  15. weiss
    September 3, 2015, 12:47 pm

    And not a peep in the NYTimes about this story…

    The Wicked Witch of the East Jodi Rudoren strikes again!!!

  16. b.grand
    September 5, 2015, 4:20 pm

    WILL ISRAEL ARREST TAMIMI FAMILY ??

    Miko Peled

    7 mins ·

    A demand presented to the AG, the ‪#‎IDF‬ chief of Staff and Police commissioner to arrest the entire Bassem Tamimi family for attacking a “a fighter of the special forces unit Egoz.” Special forces fighter… how pathetic.

    https://www.facebook.com/mikopeled/posts/10152953629117330

    פנייה ליועץ המשפטי לממשלה: הורה על מעצר תוקפי החייל בנבי צאלח […..]

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