In the middle of the night on Monday, around 3 a.m., the Israeli military raided the central occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh in full force, a common occurrence for the village’s internationally-recognized residents, the Tamimi family, who have seen several family members — a large portion of them minors — arrested from the village in the past few months.
On Monday alone, Israeli forces detained 10 members of the extended Tamimi family, including five minors between the ages of 14-17, a 19-year-old, and the rest between the rest between 21 and 29 years of age, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society.
Among the detainees was 15-year-old Muhammad Tamimi, who is scheduled to have reconstructive surgery on his skull on March 5th. Muhammad was released later Monday afternoon.
Israeli soldiers had shot Muhammad in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet in December, during demonstrations in Nabi Saleh against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Moments after Muhammad was shot, his then 16-year-old cousin Ahed learned of his injury as Israeli soldiers continued to surround the village, including her family home.
It was then that Ahed was filmed kicking and slapping an armed Israeli soldier who had encroached on her family’s property — an incident she would be detained for days later, along with her mother and cousin.
Ahed, who spent her 17th birthday in Israeli prison, is now being prosecuted behind closed doors in an Israeli military court that has a conviction rate of over 99 percent.
After spending days in a coma and undergoing several life-saving surgeries, Muhammad — who has been injured by Israeli forces before, and was previously detained when he was 13 — was released back home to Nabi Saleh with half of his skull missing.
Over the course of the two months since Muhammad’s injury and Ahed’s detention, the extended Tamimi family of Nabi Saleh and its twin village Deir Nitham have seen over a dozen of their relatives arrested, at least three put on trial in military court, and one — 16-year-old Musaab Tamimi of Deir Nitham — shot and killed by Israeli forces.
Campaign of Vengeance
By Monday afternoon, Muhammad had been released, while the nine others who were arrested remained in Israeli custody, according to Bassem Tamimi, the father of Ahed Tamimi.
Despite being released, Bassem told Mondoweiss that the fact that Muhammad was even arrested in the first place is indicative of Israel’s disregard for basic human rights.
“Muhammad is critically injured because of the occupation, and they put his life in even more danger last night,” Bassem said, adding “this just proves they don’t care about any international opinion, human rights or international law.”
Bassem told Mondoweiss that Monday’s detentions were just another part of Israel’s campaign of vengeance targeting the Tamimi family in the wake of Ahed’s arrest.
“Every international institution that deals with the Palestinians and human rights issues are responsible for the lives of our children and for the suffering of the Tamimi family and Nabi Saleh village,” Bassem said.
The Tamimi’s relatives in Deir Nitham expressed similar sentiments following the killing of their son Musaab in January, saying that days after Ahed’s arrest, the people of the village were threatened by Israeli soldiers who told them “The day will come when you wish you are not a Tamimi.”
“We have become a symbol of nonviolent resistance, and they [Israel] don’t want the voice of Palestine to be heard from anywhere or anyone,” Bassem said, “who knows what they will do next.”
International campaign for Ahed’s release continues
The Tamimi family of Nabi Saleh is well known internationally for their activism against the Israeli occupation, which maintains a heavy, near-constant presence in their village.
Ahed is famous across Palestine and the Arab world for videos of her, since her childhood, defiantly resisting Israeli soldiers who clash with Palestinians in her village nearly every week.
Two years ago, her family made headlines when an Israeli soldier violently attempted to arrest her younger brother, who had one arm in a cast at the time. Ahed and her mother manager to pull the soldier of her brother and free him.
Since her arrest in December, Ahed has become the subject of dozens of solidarity campaigns across the world demanding her release from Israeli prison, and an end to Israeli detention of Palestinian children.
As Ahed and her mother Nariman — who was arrested after her daughter — are being prosecuted behind closed doors, international rights groups such as Amnesty International have called for their immediate release, saying that Ahed’s detention “is a desperate attempt to intimidate Palestinian children who dare to stand up to repression by occupying forces.”
The group highlighted that under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is a state party, “the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child must be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time,” adding that Ahed is currently facing up to 10 years in prison
According to prisoners rights group Addameer, as of January 2018, there were 330 Palestinian children being held in Israeli prison.
Meanwhile, Bassem, who has been denied permission to visit Ahed in prison, waits until the next court date to catch a glimpse of his daughter.