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The children of Nabi Saleh in Israeli prisons: a conversation with Bassem Tamimi

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The demonstrations in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh began in December of 2009. The villagers have been protesting against the theft of a local spring by the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish, but it has also been a battle against the Occupation in general. The Israeli authorities have responded to the protests in brutal fashion. In addition to three deaths and countless injuries over the years, the treatment of children has been particularly horrifying.

According to Defense for Children International-Palestine, the overall statistics regarding the incarceration of Palestinian children by the occupying forces are staggering:

Israel is the only country in the world that automatically prosecutes children in military courts that lack basic and fundamental fair trial guarantees. Since 2000, at least 8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested and prosecuted in an Israeli military detention system notorious for the systematic ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children.

Nabi Saleh is no exception in this regard. Since the demonstrations began, there have been 220 arrests, of which roughly 100 have been of minors and, perhaps even more disturbing, there have been 15 arrests of children under the age of 15. One of the latter is Mohammed Fadal Tamimi, aged 14, who is currently in prison.

I met Bassem Tamimi, one of the organizers of the demonstrations, at his home late in the afternoon of July 15. We had arranged the appointment to discuss the situation of the children of the village currently held by the Israeli authorities. Mohammed, Ahmed Shakir Yousef Tamimi, 16, and Ahmed Sami Oudi Tamimi,17, were all arrested on April 24, 2017, and have been in prison ever since.

Ahmed Shakir’s mother, whose older son Mahmoud was also arrested during the raid, has not been allowed to see either of her sons other than during the trial. She joined us during the conversation and explained the circumstances of the violent arrest.

“Roughly 15 soldiers entered our home and asked everybody for their identification. They pushed me away when I tried to give Ahmed some clothes. It was very cold,” she said.

Ahmed Sami is awaiting his second trial, but Ahmed Shakir and Mohammed have already been convicted because of the testimony of a soldier, who claimed he had witnessed the two boys throwing stones.

“The soldier can say anything he wants to, and the others will believe it,” Bassem Tamimi said to me grimly. 

It is not difficult to understand Tamimi’s lack of faith in the Israeli judicial system. By 2012 he had himself been arrested eleven times by Israeli authorities and had spent three years in administrative detention without ever being charged or tried. In 1993 he was beaten so badly during an interrogation that he lost consciousness for eight days, and following emergency brain surgery, he was placed in solitary confinement for 40 days before being released.

Arrested in 2011, he was held for 13 months before being convicted of organizing illegal protests and urging youths to throw stones at Israeli soldiers. The conviction was based to a large extent on the confession of a minor who had not been permitted access to a lawyer during his interrogation. (An edited video, given to the Associated Press by activists, showed an interrogator shouting at the boy, telling him to admit that Bassem had urged him to throw stones.)

The trial had garnered international attention and had been attended by European diplomats. European Union Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton revealed her concerns about the fairness of the trial and stated that “the EU considers Bassem Tamimi to be a ‘human rights defender’ committed to non-violent protest against the expansion of an Israeli settlement on lands belonging to his West Bank village.”


The Tamimi family rushes an Israeli soldier pinning a Mohammed “Abu Yazan” Tamimi, then 12, during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, August 28, 2015. (Photo: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

Palestinians try to avoid tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers during clashes which erupted after the funeral of Palestinian Mustafa Tamimi in the West Bank town of Nabi Saleh, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011. Tamimi, 28, was hurling rocks at an Israeli military vehicle on Friday in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh when a soldier inside opened the rear door and fired a tear gas canister at him from just a few yards away, witnesses said. He was taken to an Israeli hospital, where he died of his injuries on Saturday. (Photo: Issam Rimawi/APA Images)

Ahmed Shakir and Mohammed are scheduled to be released during the next two weeks, subject to the payment of a $834 (3,000 NIS) fine for each of them, but the fate of Ahmed Sami has not yet been determined.

Most of the discussion with Bassem Tamimi was somber, but the interview ended because of a happy occasion, the wedding of a villager that Tamimi and his wife hurried off to attend. What we did not know at the time was that another victim would be added to the list of deaths mere hours later. Israeli forces would enter the village before dawn and shoot Amr Ahmad Khalil, 34, from the adjacent village of Kafr Ein, during a raid conducted to detain him. He was a suspect in a drive-by shooting north of Ramallah.

Richard Hardigan

Richard Hardigan is a university professor based in California. He is currently writing a book entitled "The Other Side of the Wall" based on his experience in the occupied Palestinian territory. His website is You can follow him on Twitter at @RichardHardigan.

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12 Responses

  1. JosephA on July 18, 2017, 9:52 pm

    Richard, thank you for sharing this story. The world needs to bear witness to these illegal actions by the tyrannical modern state of Israel.

    If I could add a signature to the bottom of these posts it would read something like:
    Judaism ≠ Zionism
    Zionism = Racism/Apartheid
    Criticism of modern Israel ≠ Anti-Semitism
    Anti Semitism ≠ Anti-Zionism

    • Cazador on July 19, 2017, 4:08 pm

      Superbly thought of and hopefully promoted to circle the planet so we can put an end to that murderous, genocidal, apartheid little country that is endangering the lives of many humanitarian, pacifist Jews in Israel and throughout the Diaspora, besides its use of all it$ connection$$ to keep starting war$$$ on the people who have been suffering the most on their own land since the end of 1948, since the official creation of the vilain zionist Israel, the PALESTINIANS.

      Thank you immensely!

      Merci infiniment !

  2. Jackdaw on July 19, 2017, 12:25 pm

    Thanks, Joseph.


  3. Jackdaw on July 19, 2017, 12:31 pm

    Bassam Tamimi, the guy who poisons the minds of a captive audience of NY State 3rd graders.

    I bet there was a lively exchange of views after Bassam’s lecture. Yup.

    • amigo on July 19, 2017, 2:06 pm

      “Bassam Tamimi, the guy who poisons the minds of a captive audience of NY State 3rd grader”jackduh

      Compare this !!

      “The following statements are some of the most egregious examples from the presentation:

      At the beginning of the session, the speakers showed a brief video of a young Palestinian girl who references Israelis killing Palestinians;

      There was an indication by the speakers that Israel has broken many United Nations’ laws and that Israel controls all of the resources of the geographic area;
      In a closing statement of how students could help, a speaker spoke of solidarity and being freedom fighters for Palestine; to bring peace and protect the future of their children.

      Such statements are not developmentally appropriate for third graders, nor aligned with the New York State standards. The statements were politically skewed, inflammatory, and not endorsed by the Ithaca City School District.”Ithaca–whoever the f–k they are.

      To This!!.

      Btw , Jackduh , would this ithaca group be a sub division of C.A.M.E,R.A.

      Nuff said.

      • Misterioso on July 19, 2017, 2:34 pm



      • Misterioso on July 19, 2017, 6:51 pm


        The struggle will be long and hard, but we have and will maintain the momentum.

    • Misterioso on July 19, 2017, 2:31 pm


      Breaking news:

      “Scottish Court Rules Opposing Zionism Is Not Racism”

      By Yvonne Ridley, July 19/17

      “The SPSC has faced repeated efforts by pro-Israel lobbyists and Scottish prosecutors to criminalize the group’s pro-Palestine activities.”


      “In yet another landmark legal victory, members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign emerged from court victorious today after being accused of racism. Their ‘crime’? Standing up to Zionism.

      “The trial ended three years of speculation and pressure for SPSC members whose robust defense of their actions won the day in Glasgow Sherriff’s Court when the verdict was announced on Friday.

      “Five days of evidence and cross-examinations earlier this month focussed on the actions of two SPSC members who faced charges of racism and aggravated trespass for a protest against Israeli company Jericho cosmetics, which operates around the Dead Sea in the occupied West Bank. The protest was held in the wake of Israel’s 2014 military offensive against Palestinian civilians besieged in the Gaza Strip. More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed by the Israelis during the offensive, including 550 children, before in the war ended on 26 August. During the demonstration on 13 September 2014, the SPSC protesters denounced the killings.”

      • amigo on July 19, 2017, 3:01 pm


        Any bets on jackduh returning after contacting hasbara central on how to deal with antisemitic pro Palestinian activists (terror supporters ) who have links to actual photos of Israeli children being brainwashed.

        My bet is we are about to be introduced to the practice of “Photo Shopping” compliments of Pallywood.

        Defending the rogue entity is a tough road to hoe.

    • Misterioso on July 19, 2017, 4:01 pm


      More just released news:

      The Times of Israel, July 19/17
      By Raphael Ahren

      “Irish president meets leader of anti-Israel boycott movement”

      “Israel protests after Michael Higgins shakes hands with Omar Barghouti at trade union conference and praises organizers for inviting him.”


      “Ireland’s president met with Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a move Israel denounced.

      “Michael Higgins shook Barghouti’s hand and warmly acknowledged him at a conference of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the largest civil society organization on the island of Ireland with 80,000 members.

      “’You give a great example of your internationalism by organizing fringe events and by inviting Omar Barghouti who will speak on the challenge ahead for Palestine,’ Higgins said during a July 4 speech at the organization’s biennial conference, which take place in Belfast.
      The conference delegates endorsed the BDS movement.”

      HOW SWEET IT IS!!!
      “In Dublin, fair city, where the girls are so pretty,” sanity and justice prevail!!

      • amigo on July 19, 2017, 5:39 pm

        Good for Michael D.

        I wonder what Alan Shatter has to say.Remember him.He held 2 ministerial portfolios concurrently, (in Antisemitic Jew hating Ireland )—Defence and Justice .One of his first acts as Minister of Defence was to place a sizable order for weapons with the Pariah State, being the good little Zionist that he is.

        Good that he no longer has the ear of Ireland,s Minsters to spread his hasbara in Leinster House.

  4. lonely rico on July 20, 2017, 10:02 am

    Courageous IDF soldiers, when not slaughtering Gazans, specialize in terrorizing Palestinian children.

    Stone Cold Justice – a joint investigation by Four Corners and The Australian newspaper reveals evidence that shows the army is targeting Palestinian boys for arrest and detention. Reporter John Lyons travels to the West Bank to hear the story of children who claim they have been taken into custody, ruthlessly questioned and then allegedly forced to sign confessions before being taken to court for sentencing.

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