Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to Mohammed Tamimi as Ahed Tamimi’s brother. Ahed has a brother with the same name as the Mohammed Tamimi shot on Friday, however the Mohammed shot and injured on Friday is her cousin from the village, not her brother. We apologize for the oversight.
Israeli soldiers forced their way into the Nariman and Bassem Tamimi’s home before dawn on Tuesday, the way they have done dozens of times before — only this time instead of leaving with Nariman or Bassem, they arrested the couple’s 16-year-old daughter, Ahed Tamimi.
It is alleged that Ahed was arrested for slapping a soldier during a demonstration the day before. The demonstration was organized to protest Israel’s use of force during a protest on Friday, when Ahed’s 14-year-old cousin Mohammed was shot in the face by an Israeli soldier, leaving him in critical condition. After a six-hour surgery the boy was put into a medically induced coma for at least 72 hours.
With a population of just 600, the community in Nabi Saleh is a tight-knit group, with one of her family’s children in the hospital, expected to be brought out of his coma that day, and her daughter being held in some unknown location by the Israeli government, Nariman was overloaded with tragedy.
For Nariman, a Palestinian mother, activist and medic from Nabi Saleh, one of the occupied West Bank’s most politically contentious villages, there was no time to grieve for her family’s situation.
She headed to Israel’s Binyamin Detention Center to figure out where her daughter had been taken. By 1:30 p.m. she too was detained.
On Tuesday evening an Israeli court told Bassem that both his wife and daughter would be held in detention until at least Thursday, Bilal Tamimi, Nariman’s cousin, told Mondoweiss.
By Wednesday a military court extended Ahed’s detention by ten more days. During the hearing, Ahed’s father Bassem was also detained.
Nariman and Bassem have both been detained more times than either can count, but this is the first time their daughter will spend nights in Israeli prison. Her arrest is not so surprising to anyone familiar with the Tamimis. In fact, most would say Ahed’s arrest was only a matter of time.
A quick Google of the Ahed’s name brings up pages of images of her growing up over the years — a red-faced girl with wild blonde curls fearlessly screaming and chanting with rage directly in front of Israeli soldiers. One set of viral photos even shows her, just 13 years old at the time, biting the hand of a soldier who had tackled her little brother, as the then-11-year-old screamed atop his broken arm, his head smashed between the soldiers knee and a large rock.
A Palestinian does not have the right to be so bold in the face of Israeli forces and not expect to be detained one day, so while Ahed’s family is surely wracked with grief over her arrest, it is doubtful they are able to feel at all shocked.
Nabi Saleh could have been an inconsequential village with a population of about 600 in the middle of Ramallah’s rolling hills if not for a small fresh water spring called Ein al-Qaws and a determined community unwilling to back down.
Ein al-Qaws had been the village’s sole water source for generations. In 2008, the neighboring illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish began to take over the spring. Soon a road was built, with the spring on the side of the settlement, and Nabi Saleh on the other. Villagers were denied access to the spring that provided for their community for as long as anyone could remember.
By 2009, villagers, particularly the Tamimi clan, decided to organize. Since then a protest has been held in the village every Friday without fail. Rain, holidays and curfews do not stop the people of Nabi Saleh from taking to the side of the hill facing the spring and demanding their land back.
In response, every Friday Israeli soldiers are deployed to suppress the protests, leading to clashes, tear gas, night raids and numerous dead and injured villagers.
Ahed was eight years old when it all started.
While the Tamimi clan has garnered various criticisms for allowing the children of Nabi Saleh, from the bold Ahed to the vocal “child journalist,” Janna Jihad, the Tamimis have explained countless times during radio, print and television interviews why they allow their children to participate. First, they say violence is simply a reality for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, and second, they believe keeping their children indoors during the protests fosters fear inside them.
The Tamimis say they choose to cultivate strength, not fear within their children — even if that means teenagers get pulled out of bed and taken away to unknown locations in the middle of the night by fully armed soldiers.