The recent arrest of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi by Israeli soldiers from her family home in the West Bank town of Nabi Saleh has sparked protest around the world and refocused light on Israel’s unjust treatment of Palestinian children.
In the five days since her arrest, Israeli authorities have attempted to coerce confession from Ahed, a minor, without access to a lawyer or a parent (her mother Nariman was herself arrested when she arrived to accompany her daughter during questioning); moved her from the occupied West Bank across the 1949 armistice line, also known as the “Green Line,” in contravention of international law; and transferred the sleep deprived teenager between at least three different detention centers and prisons.
All of this and Ahed has not yet been charged with a crime.
Ahed’s father Bassem Tamimi spoke about his daughter’s current situation to Palestinian human rights defenders Manal Tamimi of the Nabi Saleh Popular Committee, Issa Amro of Youth Against Settlements and Ariel Gold, of U.S.-based social justice organization CODEPINK; who conveyed the information to Mondoweiss.
Upon her arrest, she was held in an Israeli police station in the West Bank, where according to a Facebook post from her father, she refused to cooperate with interrogators.
From there, Ahed was moved to the infamous Moscobiyeh detention center in West Jerusalem, at which point Israeli authorities violated multiple statutes of the Fourth Geneva Convention which clearly characterizes deportation of protected persons from occupied territory into the occupying state as “unlawful deportation” — though this practice is typical in Israel’s handling of prisoners.
Today when she appeared at Ofer military court for a hearing on her release, it was revealed that Ahed’s night at Moscobiyeh was spent in total isolation inside a cold cell.
“This interrogation center and prison is notorious for its underground dungeon cells and torture techniques, including against children,” Ariel Gold of CODEPINK told Mondoweiss.
The horrors of this prison were recently portrayed in depth in the film Ghost Hunting by Palestinian-French director Raed Andoni — where sexual harassment, abuse and torture are staples of the interrogation process.
Ahed was then moved to Hasharon prison in northern Israel, which consists of three sections, according to prisoner solidarity organization Addameer.
A section for children designated security prisoners, another for children designated criminal prisoners and a section for Palestinian women prisoners. It previously included a section that housed a large number of Palestinian children 16 years and under together, in the same population, with Jewish Israeli criminal prisoners. The children were in such constant danger of violation and harassment by the adult prisoners that eventually this section was closed.
Currently Ahed is being held in the Ramlah prison outside Jaffa, and at her court appearance today it was revealed that her cell has cameras pointed at it constantly, day and night. Ramlah prison is generally considered a transfer point for Palestinian detainees, suggesting Tamimi may be moved yet again before her next court appearance tomorrow on December 25.
Based on her physical appearance in court, her family and supporters believe she has “not been allowed sunshine, a shower or proper food during her detention” at any of the facilities.
She looks tired and worn out from the constant transfers, a technique often used by Israel to break down prisoners.
There already exists a global movement that is infuriated by the detention of Ahed, but more so as her treatment by Israeli prison authorities worsens.
“Israel’s actions against a 16-year-old girl amount to torture under international law. Ahed, Nariman and Nour are a specific threat to Israel because they are strong women and girls leading a popular uprising against a military occupation. It is a movement that is supported around the world and cannot be stopped,” CODEPINK’s Ariel Gold told Mondoweiss. Nour Tamimi is Ahed’s 21-year-old cousin, arrested by the Israeli military the day following Ahed’s arrest.
Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro said in a statement to Mondoweiss: “The Israeli occupation arrested Ahed Tamimi and her mother and cousin to revenge the soldiers’ pride and honor and masculinity.”
“Arrests and detention will not make Palestinians, especially the women of Nabi Saleh, give up,” Amro added.
Ahed is expected to appear again in court tomorrow, December 25.