Ahed protesting with her father, mother and aunt. Photo by 2 Suns Shamsaan/Facebook
Having evidently "gone out of its mind" in its thirst for vengeance, Israeli forces just undertook a pre-dawn raid on occupied Nabi Saleh to arrest 10 relatives of Palestinian teenager and resistance hero Ahed Tamimi, currently in an Israeli prison awaiting trial on 12 assault charges after slapping an IDF soldier in December. For good measure, the soldiers also sprayed the village with putrid "skunk water," ostensibly designed for "crowd control"; it was the middle of the night, and there was no crowd. Those detained - half were children - included her 15-year-old cousin Mohammed, whose shooting in the head at close range by an Israeli rubber-coated bullet drove Ahed to her furious confrontation with the soldier. Improbably, Mohammed survived after doctors put him into a medical coma and removed almost a third of his skull. He remains in fragile health, and is scheduled for major skull reconstruction surgery next week. During the raid, his father reportedly pleaded with soldiers not to arrest him, but Israeli medics found him “fit for custody.”
A child's shattered skull holds little interest for an Israel so threatened by the abiding resistance of the Tamimi family that last month a senior official - and former American - sought to investigate them, alleging they were not a real family but a group of actors hired to “make Israel look bad.” (Not difficult, at this point). In the wake of this week's raid, Israelis remain no less zealous: Having interrogated Mohammed with no parent or lawyer present, Major General Yoav Mordechai, who oversees the occupied rule of Palestinians in the West Bank, declared that the still-traumatized boy had "confessed" he was “injured while he was riding his bicycle and fell off.” "Oh wow. What a liar," he wrote on Facebook. "What is the truth about Mohammad Tamimi?" (Maybe that he was terrorizing and coercing a terrified child?) Mordechai insisted eyewitness reports in Israeli, Palestinian and international media of Mohammed's shooting were "fake news" and, in a final surreal flourish, accused the Tamimi family of “a culture of lies and incitement.” Savage pot/steadfast kettle.
Facts, it turns out, still matter. Noting "there is no limit to how low Israel is willing to sink in its attempt to discredit" them, the Tamimi family swiftly released records from the Istishari Hospital in Ramallah stating that Mohammed presented "after a bullet injury (by) Israeli soldiers (left maxillary area entrance, no exit wound).” They go on, “Patient underwent craniotomy with bone fragments gently removed, dura sutured to the bone edges...Patient also underwent bullet removal with left maxillary sinus repair." Ha'aretz and other media outlets also published images of the CAT scan and bullet fragments doctors removed. "Israel has gone out of its mind to discredit (us)," said the Tamimi family in a furious statement blasting the arrest of "an injured, post-traumatic 15-year-old in the middle of the night (that) got him to lie out of fear of being sent to prison" in his condition. "What began with a far-fetched attempt to claim that we are not a real family at all has now moved to the denial of documented reality.”
Thanks to outrage on the part of Israeli rights activists at Mohammed's arrest, part of a growing outcry to the widespread abuse of Palestinian minors under the Occupation, he was released a few hours after his interrogation. His other newly detained relatives remain in prison; so does Ahed, who faces years in prison, and her mother and aunt. As news spread of his release, so too did video of the nighttime arrests, filmed by another relative who was not taken. It shows two bulky, visored, assault-weapon-toting IDF soldiers arrive in the modest family home, seize and handcuff two of Ahed's brothers, nudge them outside into the darkness, and begin to walk them to awaiting Israeli vehicles. The vigilant camera follows, tracking the two young men as they shuffle further and further into the night. As the car doors slam and the vehicles pull away, we hear - soundtrack of the Occupation - a woman weeping.
Moredchai's Facebook post proclaims "Fake News"
The Tamimis have been here before. Photo by Abbas Momamni/AFP