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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 January 2018

Israel/Palestine

Punishment of Tamimi family awakens wave of international solidarity

The face of protest against the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory: 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi, photo by Haim Schwarczenberg/schwarczenberg.com (CC)

The face of protest against the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory: 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi, photo by Haim Schwarczenberg/schwarczenberg.com (CC)   (Click to enlarge)

Neta Most, Socialist Struggle/Nidal Ishtiraki (CWI in Israel/Palestine)

Sixteen-year-old Ahed Tamimi and her 21-year-old cousin, Nur Tamimi, were arrested during a military raid on their house in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on the night of 19 December. Ahed remains in detention, having been denied bail, awaiting trial before an Israeli military court.

Ahed's mother, Neriman Tamimi, was arrested when she went into the police station to find out what happened to her daughter. The family's laptops and phones were confiscated by the army.

All of this was a result of video footage showing the two young women with their bare hands trying to remove from their home two armed soldiers wearing full body armour. Minutes earlier, Ahed's relative, 15-year-old Muhammad Tamimi, was critically wounded after he was shot in the head with a rubber plated metal bullet.

It is clear from the clip that the soldiers were not hurt or threatened at any point. They held on to their weapons, but left without arresting the women or attacking them.

The publication of the incident caused uproar among the Israeli right-wing. From the fascist far-right of Benzi Gupstein and "The Shadow" (a washed up rapper turned into a vocal proponent of the far-right on social media), to the security minister, Lieberman, and the education minister Bennet, who demanded the arrest of the girl who dared to kick a soldier out of her home in the occupied territories.

The highly covered arrests that were publicised by an Israeli army spokesperson seem like a vindictive act. It attempted to show that the soldiers retreating from protests of unarmed residents was nothing more than a tactical move.

It was also aimed at deterring young Palestinian men and women from fighting against the occupation, especially in the light of the widespread protests following Donald Trump's incendiary declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The military is accusing Ahed of five counts of "assault" against security forces and incitement. Her mother is accused of filming two instances and of "incitement" on social media. Nur was also officially accused of an alleged assault of a soldier.

Meanwhile, the women of the Tamimi family are being held in the Ofer military prison - notorious for the use of questionable methods to break prisoners, such as isolation and sleep deprivation (Nur has since been released after 16 days incarceration).

They will stand trial in a military court, a court with almost a 100% conviction rate. Not only do they not have any chance of a fair trial, but there is a real danger they will remain in prison for years.

Jewish settlers who have been documented assaulting Palestinians, Israeli left activists, or even police and soldiers, almost never face any court for their actions.

Media coverage

The picture drawn in the mainstream Israeli media was of a soldier innocently standing by, while two young girls are trying to confront him and cause him to react violently in front of the camera. But when looking at the facts it is clear the story is the other way around: the army was the one who provocatively entered the village to push the residents into a reaction to justify heavier oppression.

Several editorials went further and portrayed 16-year-old Ahed as a provocateur or a skilled actress who intentionally created situations to make Israeli Defence Forces soldiers "look bad" in front of cameras. As if the Tamimi family invited armed soldiers to invade their home just so they would look bad, and as if there is a girl anywhere in the world who would choose to be born and live under a foreign occupation by a foreign army!

Since Trump's provocative declaration of Jerusalem being Israel's capital, at least 610 Palestinians have been arrested by the Israeli army. Over 170 of them are children and teenagers. Did all of them "orchestrate" their arrests just to make the soldiers look bad?

Most media outlets in Israel ignored the main issue: what was the reason the soldiers entered Nabi Saleh in the first place?

Only a handful of journalists mentioned the popular protests in the village - the ones the soldiers were there to repress - against the occupation and the theft of the village well by the adjacent Halamish settlement.

The water from the well, which lies on private Palestinian land, is used by the Palestinian farmers of Nabi Saleh, and the settlers taking it over prevents them from working their land. The Israeli army is there to protect the theft and to prevent residents from protesting against the injustice.

On the day of the filmed incident where Ahed and her cousin confront the soldiers, the army did not stop at suppressing the demonstrations by the well, but invaded the village in order to make it clear to the residents that protesting will not be worthwhile. This was when Muhammad Tamimi was shot in the head.

Solidarity and struggle

Ironically, the brutal and arbitrary arrests of the Tamimi women sparked the solidarity that the government and army had feared when the video went viral. Workers and young people all over the world are following the arrest of the girl, with demonstrations demanding her release held in different countries.

This reaction reveals the limitations of power of the occupation regime when facing the civilian population and can definitely push more young people to rise up against it. "Ahed is a representative of a new generation of our people, of young freedom fighters... They must become the lifeline which will revive our revolution", her father Ahed Tamimi wrote in a public letter.

The arrest of the Tamimi daughters is meant to put a 'price tag' on resistance to the military regime in the occupied territories.

Netanyahu's government of settlements and big capital is arrogantly trying to break the resistance to the occupation using deadly oppression, and is trying to 'manage the conflict' at the expense of the future of Palestinian workers and youth, but also of Israelis.

There needs to be an end to the government's attacks, not the arrest of young Palestinian girls rising up against them. A fight to remove the army and the settlements from the occupied territories is a fight for peace.

Yes to protest and solidarity demonstrations demanding the Tamimis release.

End arbitrary arrests and incarceration without trial. End administrative detentions. Protect the right of each prisoner for legal representation, to know the charges against them and for a fair trial.

Get the military out of the occupied territories! End the occupation of the Palestinian territories. End the settlements.

Release all Palestinian political prisoners. A fair trial, in a designated procedure, supervised by independent workers' and human rights organisations from both sides of the conflict, for Israelis and Palestinians suspected of responsibility for horrors related to the conflict.

Yes to an independent, democratic and socialist Palestinian state, with its capital in eastern Jerusalem, alongside a democratic, socialist Israel, with genuine equality of minorities, as part of the struggle for a socialist Middle East and regional peace.

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