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‘We are proud of her’: Palestinian teenagers on the importance of Ahed Tamimi

Israel/Palestine
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Bethlehem, occupied West Bank — Ahed Tamimi, a prominent teen activist, turned 17 on Wednesday in Israel’s HaSharon prison, where she has been held for more than a month.

Last month, Israel’s military court in Ofer detention center near Ramallah ruled to keep both Ahed and her mother Nariman in prison until the end of their trials, because they “posed a danger,” Gabi Laski, their lawyer, said.

Ahed, who is facing 12 charges, was arrested from her village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank after a video of her slapping and hitting two Israeli officials outside her home went viral.

Shortly before the video was filmed, Israeli forces had shot Ahed’s 15-year-old cousin point-blank in the face with a rubber bullet, leaving him in a 72-hour coma.

Since Ahed’s arrest, she has become an international icon for the experiences of Palestinian children under Israel’s more than half-century occupation. Demonstrations have been held for the imprisoned teen in various countries around the world.

Mondoweiss sat down with teenagers in Bethlehem’s Dheisheh refugee camp, where Israeli violence is an everyday reality for its some 15,000 residents. Teenagers here are descendants of Palestinians who were expelled from their homes during the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” amid Israel’s establishment in 1948.

Mondoweiss discussed with them their experiences as teenagers living under Israeli military rule and how they relate to the now iconic teenager.

Nancy Sarasra (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

Nancy Sarasra, 16: ‘We cant sleep’

Human rights don’t exist here. Israel raids the camp almost every night. Sometimes we can’t sleep because of the sounds of shooting. At times, we are even prevented from going to school because there is tear gas and soldiers on the street.

If we go outside, we are scared we will be injured or killed. It doesn’t matter to the Israelis if we are children or adults.

Even when we go to school, we can’t concentrate. Our minds are constantly thinking about our friends and family in the camp.

I see Ahed as someone who refuses to stay quiet. All Palestinians know that it’s not easy to have soldiers invade your home. But Ahed is actually brave enough to stand up for herself and her family.

She’s not a symbol for just Palestinian children, but for children all over the world. Maybe this attention she is getting will lead to some kind of substantial solidarity. But it’s also possible that everything will quiet down and the media will move on.

The media tends to focus on us when something big or newsworthy happens. But people should remember that life is always dangerous for us here, whether the media is paying attention or not.

Nour Ayesh (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

Nour Ayesh, 17: ‘We should stand up for ourselves’

What happened to Ahed is something that’s actually very common here. Many Palestinians experience a lot worse than Ahed did. In Dheisheh, even 13-year-olds are sent to prison, but no one is talking about them.

We see what Ahed did as very righteous. But if there was no one filming the incident, the soldiers could have killed her. I think the media needs to pay more attention to what happens when the cameras are gone.

Israeli soldiers are always in Dheisheh camp, searching for specific residents to arrest. When Israel arrests you, it doesn’t mean you have done anything wrong. Maybe you are educated; maybe you have a loud voice; or maybe you stand up for yourself. Israel is very scared of this.

I remember two years ago, my mom and 12-year-old brother were crossing the checkpoint from Bethlehem into Jerusalem. A soldier told my mom to take off her jacket and hijab in front of everyone at the checkpoint. She refused and the soldier became very aggressive with her, so my brother intervened and started screaming at the soldier.

They arrested him right there. He came back two days later with a swollen face and he couldn’t move his arm because the soldiers had beaten him so badly. Even a child becoming angry is considered by Israel as a criminal act.

Ahed seems to have reached a point where silence isn’t an option anymore. For a long time, Palestinians have been scared to stand up for ourselves. But Ahed is making us realize that we should no longer stay silent to all the injustices Israel is doing to us. We should stand up for ourselves like Ahed did.

Fatoom Shahin (Photo: Jaclynn Ashly)

Fatoom Shahin, 16: ‘We are proud of Ahed’

About two years ago, I was sleeping at my uncle’s house. Israeli soldiers started banging on the door at around 3 a.m. My uncle opened the door and dozens of soldiers stormed in. There was a newborn baby sleeping on one of the beds. The soldiers flipped the bed over with the baby still on it. We thought the baby was injured or killed. But thank God he was ok.

They destroyed everything in the house. They arrested my 20-year-old cousin, blindfolded him, and led him outside to an army jeep. During the raid they beat up his 16-year-old brother.

After the raid my aunt and sisters were crying so hard. We spent hours trying to calm them down. We didn’t even have anywhere to sit because the soldiers destroyed everything.

Last year, Israeli soldiers shot one of my best friends to death. When the soldiers do these things, it affects everyone. You don’t just kill a person, you also destroy their friends and family in the process.

And to make it even worse, Israel will then paint our friends and relatives as horrible terrorists to the rest of the world. This is what they are doing to Ahed. But what could a teenage girl possibly do to justify soldiers saying she is dangerous?

The soldiers are always older than us; they are armed. Not only this, but when they raid the camps and villages, they don’t come alone. They come with dozens of other soldiers. Israel has one of the most powerful militaries in the world. But then they still consider even teenage girls to be dangerous.

We are very proud of Ahed because she isn’t just standing up for her own rights, but for the rights of all Palestinian children. We have hope that what Ahed is fighting for will one day be realized.

But, at the same time, it’s important that we are not leaving a teenage girl to continue the struggle alone. She did something very big for her age, but we need men and women and all of society to stand up for us in the same way that Ahed did.

Jaclynn Ashly
About Jaclynn Ashly

Jaclynn Ashly is a journalist based in Bethlehem, Palestine. You can find her on Twitter @jaclynnashly

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24 Responses

  1. eljay
    February 1, 2018, 9:43 am

    … Nour Ayesh: … We see what Ahed did as very righteous. But if there was no one filming the incident, the soldiers could have killed her. I think the media needs to pay more attention to what happens when the cameras are gone. …

    If Ben Caspit’s loathsome remark is any indication, at least some of the media know full well what happens when the cameras are gone:

    … the price should be collected on another occasion, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras. …

    Kudos to these teenagers for speaking out to MW. May they never find themselves trapped in a Ben Caspit nightmare.

    • Eva Smagacz
      February 1, 2018, 3:52 pm

      eljay, you said

      Kudos to these teenagers for speaking out to MW. May they never find themselves trapped in a Ben Caspit nightmare

      Worth pointing out that it is only a nightmare for those teenagers. For Ben Caspit it is a wet dream .
      82/93

      • eljay
        February 1, 2018, 9:05 pm

        || Eva Smagacz: … Worth pointing out that it is only a nightmare for those teenagers. For Ben Caspit it is a wet dream . ||

        Good point.

      • LHunter
        February 1, 2018, 9:31 pm

        Eva – great comment. I have a sneaky suspicion you are right about Ben – nothing about Zionist predilections amazes me any more. Vile to the core especially the Israeli variety.

  2. Annie Robbins
    February 1, 2018, 12:08 pm

    thank you Jaclynn Ashly. i really like hearing their own words and seeing their faces — excellent photographs too.

    • Citizen
      February 1, 2018, 1:53 pm

      Agreed, Annie. PS: Why do I now have to log in with my password every time I want to make a comment? This is new for me & have been commenting on MW since 2008.

  3. LHunter
    February 1, 2018, 6:42 pm

    It’s so difficult to take it all in. Children and their mothers tortured by the most inhumane regime while NYT columnist Friedman and other illiberals provide cover in the West.

    Innocents found guilty for being Palestinian and refusing to kowtow to their benighted oppressors.

    Thank you Jaclynn Ashly for making this an intimate read through the eyes of the oppressed.

  4. JosephA
    February 1, 2018, 8:23 pm

    One day, the world will wake up to and reject these Israeli atrocities against the indigenous Palestinians.

  5. Jackdaw
    February 6, 2018, 12:42 am

    Hey kids! Did you read today’s headlines?

    Jew Stabbed to Death by Arab.
    https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5090186,00.html

    • Annie Robbins
      February 6, 2018, 2:45 am

      i was impressed by the live video, especially recalling all the palestinian executed at checkpoints where live coverage was recorded but wasn’t made available. so many more palestinians have been executed by israelis, and left to bleed to death but we are not afforded those videos. why do you think israel released this? seems odd, no? especially since, relatively, israelis kill so many more palestinians .. at least 5 times more.

      • gamal
        February 6, 2018, 9:43 am

        hey Annie,

        Do you know the work of the sculptor Michael Sandle, “as you sow so shall you reap” inspired by an airstrike in Gaza. “Fuck the Media” is my favorite so dynamic. (all pictured at link)

        “Well in 2008, about eight years ago, I saw a news report on the internet about a Palestinian called Anwar Balousha, whose five daughters were killed while they slept, by an Israeli air-strike on Gaza.
        I thought about this and tried to imagine the enormity of that man’s pain – it was an appalling war crime. Then for some reason, as I reflected on it, the Holman Hunt painting The Light of the World came into to my head, where Jesus is knocking on the door of a middle eastern hovel holding a lantern. Slowly I developed lots and lots of sketches and drawings, it became quite an obsession really. The thing about me is that because I am not a commercially successful artist, I am not on the hamster’s treadmill, I like to take my time. I agree with the art-critic Robert Hughes what we need is ‘slow art’ – all the artists I admire are the Old Masters anyway”

        https://3rd-dimensionpmsa.org.uk/interviews/2016-04-27-michael-sandle-in-conversation-with-benedict-read

      • Jackdaw
        February 7, 2018, 12:45 am

        Arab Shot Dead After Stabbing Jew.

        http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Israeli-lightly-wounded-in-West-Bank-stabbing-attacker-shot-dead-540912

        And another, and another and another….

        Annie. What gives? Are you trying to relive the ‘Knife Intifada’ or something? That’s so ‘last year’.

        And around..and around..and around.
        Anyone for a swirl around the vortex. Hop on in. The water’s fine.

      • eljay
        February 7, 2018, 9:20 am

        || Jackdaw: Arab Shot Dead After Stabbing Jew. … ||

        Wrong again. The headline says:
        Not-Israeli Gunned Down in not-Israel After Lightly Wounding Israeli Occupier and Colonizer of not-Israel

        Keep this up and they’re going to revoke you-know-who’s Nobel Prize.

      • Mooser
        February 7, 2018, 2:38 pm

        “And around..and around..and around.
        Anyone for a swirl around the vortex. Hop on in. The water’s fine.”
        “Jackdaw”

        Making aliyah-oops is like jumping in to a flushing toilet?

      • Annie Robbins
        February 7, 2018, 6:04 pm

        gamal, i just read your incredible link/interview. amazing guy Michael Sandle, i had never heard of him. thank you thank you!

      • Jackdaw
        February 8, 2018, 2:02 pm

        @mooser

        For all it’s many faults, Israel is the most progressive, free and democratic country in the Middle East. Desperate Africans risk murder, kidnap and rape (by Bedouin Arabs) to come to Israel, and now they don’t want to leave.

        The toilet is the I/P vortex, and you are just a tiny floater, swirling round and round and round, until old age and death removes you from the universe altogether.

      • amigo
        February 8, 2018, 2:35 pm

        “Desperate Africans risk murder, kidnap and rape (by Bedouin Arabs) to come to Israel, and now they don’t want to leave.” jackduh

        Correction .

        Desperate Africans risk death by drowning to come to Israel and now they don,t want to leave but Nietanyahu and co are busy rounding them up to expel them.Those that refuse to take the Kong,s shilling will be arrested and imprisoned.

        There you go.Fixed it for you.

      • Keith
        February 8, 2018, 3:29 pm

        JACKDAW- “For all it’s many faults, Israel is the most progressive, free and democratic country in the Middle East.”

        A regular “villa in the jungle,” Herzl’s dream come true.

      • Mooser
        February 8, 2018, 4:28 pm

        “For all it’s many faults, Israel is the most progressive, free and democratic country in the Middle East.”

        “Jackdaw” is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.

    • eljay
      February 6, 2018, 7:33 am

      || Jackdaw: Hey kids! Did you read today’s headlines?

      Jew Stabbed to Death by Arab. … ||

      Here you go again, deliberately making a fool of Nobel Prize winner Konrad Lorenz. :-(

      The headline says:
      Israeli Occupier and Colonizer of not-Israel Killed by Another Israeli

      A crime has been committed. The proper thing to do is to bring the perpetrator to justice and hold him accountable for his actions.

      The improper thing to do – the Zionist thing to do – is to use this crime as justification for:
      – on-going Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine; and
      – the past and on-going (war) crimes committed by Jewish supremacists (Zionists).

      • oldgeezer
        February 6, 2018, 8:24 am

        @eljay

        And the articles point out the attacker had known psychiatric problems.

        Of course in the typical criminal zionist mentality Uri Ariel, the agriculture minister, has called for annexation of the entire west bank in retalliation for this Israeli upon Israeli crime.

    • Mooser
      February 6, 2018, 12:44 pm

      “Jew Stabbed to Death by Arab.”

      “Jackdaw” we can’t possibly make a judgement about this without knowing if the “Jew” was Orthodox (and which variety), Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Reform, or secular.

    • Talkback
      February 9, 2018, 3:21 am

      Jackdaw: “For all it’s many faults, Israel is the most progressive, free and democratic country in the Middle East. ”

      I agree. Keeping Nonjews expelled to maintain the political dominance of Jews in elections is very “progressive, free and democratic”. Well “Jewish democratic”. Or “democratic” for Jews and Jewish for Nonjews.

  6. Ossinev
    February 8, 2018, 3:54 pm

    @Jackdaw
    “For all it’s many faults, Israel is the most progressive, free and democratic country in the Middle East”

    OK sunshine now that you are dipping your feet in the swamp please give us a list of the “many faults”. Do you have the balls ??

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