Palestinian teenager faces prison for resisting occupation

Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old Palestinian activist from the village of Nabi Saleh in the West Bank, will be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for slapping and shoving an Israeli soldier, if found guilty by a military tribunal.

She was arrested at 4am on 19 December, hours after a video was released to the Israeli public showing Ahed and her sister ejecting two soldiers from the courtyard of their family home.

Calls for revenge against her immediately followed, Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman promising that “everyone involved, not only the girl but also her parents and those around them will not escape from what they deserve”.

For the right wing media, Ahed was the aggressor and her actions were a “provocation”. But earlier in the day, Israeli soldiers had shot her 14-year-old cousin Muhammed in the head with a rubber bullet.

The soldiers at Ahed’s house did not respond with immediate force against a Palestinian woman refusing to submit to Israeli authority. For that “error”, they were accused of shaming the nation.

Ahed’s arrest was the military’s response to this criticism, and a video of it soon appeared on its Hebrew Twitter account (but, notably, not the English-language account).

Ahed’s situation is commonplace. The Israeli military detains on average two Palestinian teens a night, and Ahed is one of more than 450 Palestinians held in indefinite “administrative detention”.

Her mother Nariman and sister Nour have also since been arrested and charged. They will soon face one of the Israeli military courts, known for their nearly 100 percent conviction rate and flagrant disregard for due process.

As with other Palestinian prisoners, her crime was daring to resist the occupation. Her punishment is part of the ongoing collective punishment of the Palestinian people for refusing to abandon their goal of liberation.

Tamimi family members have been targeted because they are known around the world. The political motive is barely concealed: Ahed and her mother face charges of “incitement” for broadcasting the realities of occupation and encouraging protest.

Israel’s allies have followed its lead in censoring the Tamimis. For example, the Australian government last year refused to grant a travel visa to Ahed’s father, Bassem Tamimi, when he was invited to speak in Australia by several Palestine solidarity groups and Socialist Alternative. Ahed was similarly denied entrance to the United States early last year.

They are right to fear Ahed Tamimi. Her resistance is an inspiration to all who are fighting for a better world. For Ahed and for all the oppressed, Maya Angelou’s words are relevant:

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may tread me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

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