Palestinian Ahed Tamimi arrested by Israeli forces
Bethlehem, occupied West Bank – Ahed Tamimi, a prominent 16-year-old Palestinian activist, has been detained during a pre-dawn raid on her home by the Israeli army and border police in the occupied West Bank.
Ahed’s mother, Nariman, was also arrested on Tuesday afternoon during a visit to Ahed at an Israeli police station.
According to Ahed’s father Bassem, the Tamimi family, who are well-known activists in the village of Nabi Saleh, woke up with a shock at about 3am to the noise of Israeli forces banging on their front door and screaming.
Bassem told Al Jazeera that he opened the door for the soldiers, who pushed him aside and trooped into the house.
They forced the family into one of the rooms as they went about rifling through the household contents, throwing clothes and possessions on the floor and leaving behind a mess.
The soldiers then informed the family that Ahed was being arrested, without giving any reasons.
“Nariman was hysterically crying and attempted to hug Ahed, but she was thrown to the ground by the soldiers,” he said, referring to Ahed’s mother.
Despite Ahed being a constant fixture at Nabi Saleh’s protests, this is the first time she has been detained by Israeli forces.
Ahed was handcuffed and led by the soldiers outside to an Israeli army jeep. The family was prevented from following her outside.
According to Bassem, at least 30 soldiers were involved in the raid and Ahed’s arrest.
The soldiers confiscated the family’s phones, computers and laptops. Bassem told Al Jazeera that his 14-year-old son had refused to give the soldiers his phone.
“Six soldiers pushed him down and violently took it from him,” he said.
The family was left in shock following the raid.
Later in the afternoon, Nariman went to visit Ahed, who was being held at a police station near Jabaa village in the Jerusalem district of the West Bank, so that she could be present during the minor’s interrogation.
According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, an Israeli nongovernmental organisation (NGO), a parent has the right to accompany their child during an interrogation in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Before long, Bassem received a phone call from his lawyer saying that Nariman too had been arrested upon her arrival at the police station.
An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment on the alleged arrest.
Manal Tamimi, Ahed’s cousin, told Al Jazeera that clashes broke out in the village during Tuesday’s raid, with Israeli forces shooting tear-gas canisters at homes in the village.
“I can’t imagine how anyone can do this,” Bassem said.
“At the end of the day I am a father. It is not easy to see soldiers raiding your home in the middle of the night to take away your daughter.”
‘Powerless to do anything’
The Tamimi family is no stranger to run-ins with the Israeli military establishment.
Bassem has been arrested numerous times by Israeli forces, and was termed a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International, the international rights-advocacy group, during one of his several stints in Israeli prison in 2012.
“I’m so angry. But I am powerless to do anything. This is occupation,” said Bassem, feeling the pain of Tuesday’s double blow.
“They want Palestinians to suffer.”
Ahed’s arrest came a day after a video of the teen confronting Israeli soldiers during protests in Nabi Saleh on Friday, over US President Donald Trump‘s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, went viral.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Al Jazeera that Ahed was suspected of “assaulting a soldier and an IDF officer”.
The spokesperson accused Ahed of participating in a “violent riot” in which she said hundreds of Palestinians threw stones at Israeli forces during Friday’s protests.
She alleged that the Tamimi family had “given their consent” to Palestinians to throw rocks at Israeli soldiers from their home, and that the soldiers were present outside at the time to “remove the rioters from the house”.
However, Bassem says the Israeli narrative does not tell the full story.
He says the now-viral video showing Ahed was shot immediately after Israeli forces fired tear-gas canisters directly at their home, which broke several windows.
Medically induced coma
Moments earlier, Ahed’s 14-year-old cousin, Mohammad, had been hit point-blank in the face by a rubber bullet fired by the Israeli soldiers
Mohammad had to be put under a medically induced coma, from which he woke up on Tuesday, 72 hours later.
“Ahed was telling the soldiers to get away from our home,” Bassem said. “She was trying to force them to leave to prevent the soldiers from hurting anyone else.”
The Israeli army spokesperson said the soldiers had acted in a “professional and restrained manner”.
However, Bassem says the soldiers did not react to Ahed’s attempts to force them out of the area because they were in a state of shock on seeing the severity of Mohammad’s wounds after shooting him in the face.
Both Bassem and Manal say the village has a “right to resist” Israeli soldiers on their lands.
“We cannot live normally under occupation,” Bassem said. “We have no choice but to resist.
“But because we resist, we pay the price.”
Praised by activists
Naftali Bennet, Israel’s education minister who is known for his hawkish views, told Army Radio on Tuesday that Ahed and the other women in the video should “finish their lives in prison”.
The Israeli army posted on its Twitter account a video showing Ahed being arrested.
Manal says the Israeli army was responding to a social media campaign among Israelis who demanded that Ahed be arrested after the video went viral.
Ahed has been praised by activists and the international community for her courage during protests in Nabi Saleh, which have been held every Friday in the village for years.
She started attending the protests there when she was just nine years old.
At age 13, Ahed won the Handala Courage Award in Turkey, and rose to international prominence after a video and series of photos were published of the young activist, along and her mother and aunt, desperately attempting to save her injured brother Mohammad, then 11 years old, from being arrested by Israeli forces in 2015.
According to Manal, Israeli forces have been systematically targeting children and teenagers of the community.
‘Everyone being targeted’
On Monday, Israeli forces detained 15-year-old Ahmad Tamimi from his school in a nearby village and released him later in the night, Manal said.
“This has given us the message that everyone now is being targeted – men, women, and children,” she said.
“The last three days have seen the arrest of two children and severe injuries to a third.
“This is making the children fear that they will be the next ones to either be injured, killed or arrested.”
Manal said her 10-year-old son had started sleeping with his jeans on, placing his boots beside his bed, and putting a pair of pyjamas beside him, in case Israeli soldiers came to arrest him from his home.
“The children all feel like something bad will happen to them at any moment,” she said.
The Palestinian NGO Badil told Al Jazeera that it was common for Palestinians to sleep with their clothes on in order to “avoid further invasion of privacy and embarrassment” during the raids.
The group condemned Israel’s night raids on Palestinian communities, calling the policy “particularly gruesome” and a means of “subjugating and suppressing the [Palestinian] population”.
Children are particularly affected by these raids, Badil said, adding that Palestinian children often suffer from insomnia, bed-wetting, and nightmares.
This is “part and parcel of wider Israeli policies that must exist for [Israel] to continue foreign domination and the colonisation of Palestine”, Badil said.
Israeli forces carried out at least 100 raids on Palestinian communities between November 24 and December 4, according to UN documents.
Manal says that Nabi Saleh has been raided on a near nightly basis for the past three months.