In fit of mendacity, Israeli official claims Mohammed Tamimi, 15, was not hit in the head by a bullet

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The Israeli army is using all means to avenge itself on the Tamimis and Nabi Saleh for their resilience and resistance, epitomized by the imprisoned girl Ahed Tamimi who slapped a soldier.  

Yesterday morning, before dawn, Israeli soldiers raided the occupied village of Nabi Saleh and detained 10 members of the extended Tamimi family – half of them children.

The forces also used what is known as ‘skunk water’, as can be seen in local citizen-journalist Bilal Tamimi’s video (provided on +972 Magazine) – which is ostensibly designed for ‘crowd control’, only there is no crowd. The Israeli army is using the putrid liquid, sprayed from a truck, to collectively punish Palestinians, as it has been documented doing in the past, spraying homes and schools.

Among those arrested in the night raid was 15-year-old Mohammed Tamimi, who was shot in the head at close range by a rubber-coated bullet, just before Ahed’s famous slap nearly 2-1/2 months ago. Mohammed was put in a medical coma, and had part of his skull removed, which has deformed his skull. His situation is incredibly sensitive, and one wonders just why he was not spared the violence in this night raid. He was released a few hours after the arrest and after a relatively short interrogation.

The bullet removed from Mohammed Tamimi’s head. (Image via Nabi Saleh Popular Committee)

And then came the “news,” this morning:

Major General Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), claimed on a Facebook post that Mohammed was not hit by a bullet, but rather fell from his bicycle. Mordechai is the highest direct authority of the Israeli occupation, and he wrote this on the COGAT official Arabic Facebook page.

“A culture of lies and incitement continues for young people and adults in the Tamimi family”, he wrote.

The post was plastered with a red stamp saying “fake news” in Arabic.

Haaretz reported on his post, and wondered how it was, that Mordechai’s claim was contradicted by “medical documents, eyewitness accounts and images of bullet removed from his head obtained by Haaretz”. Indeed, even the official army response to Haaretz seemed to counter Mordechai’s certainty: army sources are quoted saying that “Tamimi was questioned by the police, and they cannot confirm the origins of his injury”.

Those who know the culture of interrogation of the Israeli security apparatus when it comes to Palestinians are not surprised. Israeli interrogators can often coerce just about anything they want from Palestinians, particularly children, and that is how the army can boast an amazing 99.74% conviction rate. Often, children are forced to sign documents in Hebrew which they cannot even read, and they are quite systematically denied the presence of family or lawyer during these interrogations.

So, Mordechai claims that he got a ‘confession’ from Mohammed. And what do Nabi Saleh residents say? They say that Mohammed “told the police he had been hurt in a bike accident and not shot by the IDF so that he would be released after being detained”, and that “he was scared and worried that if he said he had been shot, there would be evidence against him and his detention would be extended”.

Medical records confirming Mohammed Tamimi’s shooting, as tweeted by Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem.
Medical records confirming Mohammed Tamimi’s shooting, tweeted by Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem

It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? This ‘bike story’ is all Mordechai really wanted, or needed, as a weapon to discredit Palestinians and incite against them. And it doesn’t matter that even the army ‘cannot confirm.’ Doubt has been sown, and those who are prone to believe the Israeli army lies, will question it all.  

Imagine Mohammed’s situation – imagine you were him. Half of your brain is simply exposed. Any little hit can cause you unbelievable and irreparable damage, and you are at the hands of people who are violent towards you on a systematic basis. All you want to do is get out of there and back home. You will do anything, you will say anything.

It is obvious that keeping Mohammed in prolonged detention would have been detrimental for Israeli PR. He is directly related to Ahed Tamimi, as his injury had been the direct antecedent of Ahed’s slap. His deformed skull is a depiction of the state of Nabi Saleh: being hit by the Israeli army over and over again. Obviously, they didn’t want to keep him for long, although they don’t know what to do with Ahed, because releasing her would be too offensive for so many Israelis who can’t stand being slapped. So they released Mohammed rather quickly, but now we see the catch. If Mordechai can convince some fools that Mohammed’s injury is ‘fake news’, then by extension, Ahed’s story and its background is being weakened.

A B’Tselem official says the Israeli government needs to lie to Israelis, to keep up the illusion:

What’s stunning about claim that Muhammad Tamimi “fell off his bike” (not shot in the face) is not how big a lie it is: we’ve seen Orwellian lies before (Beitunia 2014). But such easily debunked lies show the only target audience is Israeli right.

The ‘fake news’ narrative and idea regarding Palestinians has been historically inculcated by Israeli leadership on an obsessive level, as part of its attempt to erase Palestine. This can be seen in the grand narrative, as in late Prime Minister Golda Meir’s claim that Palestinians don’t really exist, or Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s claim to the National Basketball Association lately that Palestine is an “imaginary state.” And it can be seen in the more focused attempts to claim that the Tamimi family are not a ‘real family’, as we have seen with lawmaker Michael Oren’s claim and his parliamentary investigation, no less, into this very ‘question’.  Oren embarrassed himself recently with a post of a mirror image of the Tamimi family, claiming it couldn’t be real, since Ahed’s brother Mohammed had an arm in cast once on the right hand, then on the left. The Tamimi family indeed wonders now, how “what began as a bizarre attempt to prove that we are not even a family has deteriorated into a denial of reality”.

And notice how Ahed Tamimi, in her mere resilience and courage, in her maintenance of a calm and proud demeanor, creates a situation that drives Israelis crazy. It’s like she’s slapping Israel over and over again, simply by not surrendering. And this is bringing focus to a paradigm of institutionalized oppression and state violence against children, which has been there all along, but now it’s getting special attention thanks to Ahed. Israel can’t stand this exposure, and so it desperately seeks to discredit the oppressed – but every step it makes only further accentuates its own corruption.

Make no mistake about it – we are seeing colonialist violence, it’s right in front of our eyes. Haaretz journalist Amira Hass has today called it “Jewish colonialism”. Indeed, it is violence enacted in the name of the Jewish State. And that’s not fake news. It’s really happening.


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Seems like Zionism may be even better at delusion than it is at self-righteousness.

Well done Jonathan. I concur entirely with your article.

I have read that Ahed Tamimi has supposedly been threatened with the arrest of all of her family. The arrest of 10 family members as a threat would seem to corroborate that.

Does anyone know if the other 9 have been released?

Great analysis, and the pictures are damning to Mordechai, Oren, Shaked, the IOF, Netanyahu, et al. I was stunned to find this story by Loveday Morris in the WaPo: “How a Palestinian teen’s rubber-bullet injury to the brain turned to a biking accident overnight … “He must be the first Palestinian teenager that the Israeli army believes when he denies he is involved in clashes,” said Jonathan Pollak, an activist with the campaign to free… Read more »

Jonathan, you are heroic for your energy and principle in keeping on top of so much that is whizzing by … huge thanks, your ability to compact issues into fact and linear reasoning is important now and for future documentation.

“In fit of mendacity”

This seems to suggest Israel is usually truthful and honest, briefly flipping their lids when faced with some negative publicity, such as the courageous young Palestinian girl standing up to racist Israeli thuggery.
Israel is (has always been) characterized by lying and dishonesty, a constant, attempting to conceal their multiple crimes against the Palestinians, who were in the way of their mad dream of a racially pure Jewish state.