It’s been called the “slap heard around the world.” For wielding a bare handed slap, Israeli soldiers ripped 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi out of her bed in the middle of the night, threw her into the back of a military jeep and locked her up in a small, cold prison isolation cell. Yesterday, the Israeli military court – notorious for its 99.7 percent conviction rate – indicted Ahed on twelve charges.
Israel claims Ahed is a violent and dangerous criminal. The crimes she is charged with, such as assault of a soldier, stone throwing and so-called incitement, could result in a lengthy prison sentence.
Before we consider whether Ahed deserves a life behind bars, we must first take a closer look at what is a criminal action and what is a life of enduring state violence. Is it the 16-year-old girl who dares to raise her hand to a fully armed Israeli soldier who is the criminal? Or is it the ongoing illegal occupation that places soldiers in the lives of unarmed teenage girls?
In 2011, Ahed Tamimi was 10-years-old when Israeli soldiers arrested her father and charged him with the crime of organizing weekly demonstrations in their village to oppose the theft of its land for the benefit of a neighboring Israeli settlement. It would be 13 months before he was released and she would see her father again.
That same year, Israeli soldiers shot Mustafa Tamimi, Ahed’s 28-year-old cousin, in the face with a high velocity tear gas canister. Half of Mustafa’s face was destroyed. He passed away the next morning at the hospital.
The following year, when Ahed was 11 years old, Israeli soldiers shot her uncle, Rushdi Tamimi, in his lower back with live ammunition. The bullet lodged in his stomach and he died the next morning in the hospital.
Ahed was 13 when Israeli soldiers shot her mother, Nariman Tamimi, in the leg with a 22-caliber bullet. Ahed stood by, crying in the arms of her father, as her mother was placed in the back of an ambulance. Her mother had to rely on crutches for a number of years until she regained use of her legs.
These are only a few of the tragedies of violence that Ahed has witnessed and suffered as an adolescent and early teen growing up under Israel occupation. More of her cousins and brothers have been injured and served time in Israeli prisons than is simple to count.
Just before the “slap heard round the world” on December 15, 2017, Ahed’s 14-year-old cousin, Mohammed Tamimi was hit directly in the face with a rubber coated steel bullet. During the incident, Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters at Ahed’s house shattering many of its windows. They then stationed themselves in the yard of the house.
Mohammed was finally released from the hospital last week. Stitches and deep purple bruising cover the front of his face as he recovers.
Ahed Tamimi versus the Israeli army isn’t the first time an abuser has cried victim. Blue Lives Matter claims police, not unarmed black men, who are systematically targeted and killed. President Trump threatens to sue the women who accuse him of sexual assault. Israel is notorious for claiming they are being oppressed by the people they hold hostage. In this case, they have taken aim at a 16-year old girl, claiming she, with her bare hand, is a larger than life threat to them and their first class military might. As Ahed’s trial continues, we must remember whose who is the occupier and who is the occupied. With this in mind, we must understand why a 16-year-old girl would want to hit the police that are occupying her land and home and killing her family. And we much demand freedom for Ahed and freedom for all of Palestine.