FEATURE: Nonviolent resistance icon Ahed Tamimi breathes freedom

RAMALLAH, After months of being locked up in the darkness of Israeli prison cells and battling countless trials, petitions and supportive protests and rallies, the curly-haired blonde teen Ahed Tamimi has finally breathed freedom.

On December 15th, 2017, a large unit of Israeli soldiers, who previously injured Ahed’s 15-year-old cousin, Mohammad, raided the village of Nabi Saleh, near the city of Ramallah, the occupied West Bank, where Ahed is from and where her family home is, as they were shooting at protesters in the village.

But it was only when some of the soldiers approached Ahed’s front home yard that she, being a strong protest icon to Palestinians, not only single-handedly stood up against two soldiers but she also slapped them, kicked them and pushed them away from her family’s home.

The whole event was filmed by Ahed’s mother, Nariman, who also posted the video online before it immediately went viral on social media causing strong reactions even in the Israeli media.

On December 19th, 2017, four days after the video went viral, Israeli soldiers raided the Tamimi home and pulled Ahed out her bed in the middle of the night and detained her.

She was only 16 years old at that time. The army charged her of attacking and slapping Israeli soldiers after they invaded her home. Tamimi’s mother, Nariman, 43, and her cousin, Nour, 21, were also detained on similar charges.

It didn’t take too long before Ahed’s case received local and international attention on so many levels mainly because of her young age and bravery in defending her home and standing up against Israeli soldiers.

The ordeal has generated worldwide sympathy with the women, especially Ahed who is looked at as a folk hero for solely facing heavily armed Israeli soldiers raiding her home and village.

At first, the Ofer military court detained the three women for days before it was expected to hold another hearing on their imprisonment.

On January 1, 2018, Ahed was charged by a military court with 12 counts of security-related offences. The charges include aggravated assault of a soldier, stone throwing and incitement, and are related to six different incidents, some even going back to April 2016.

Even though Ahed was detained for almost a month, her case was still generating international attention and many worldwide figures showed sympathy and support and called for her release.

For example, over 40 organizations held a rally at New York’s Penn Station in January to demand her release. The demonstration was part of a series of worldwide actions marking both Ahed’s 17th birthday on January 31, and the start of her Israeli military trial, which was scheduled to begin at Israel’s Ofer prison the same day.

Ahed was considered an iconic symbol for Palestinian resistance whose case was still garnering global attention and both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for her release. But this time support and sympathy were coming from more vocal figures: celebrities.

A number of high-profile celebrities, entertainers, scholars, and civil rights icons signed a letter in support of Ahed and other Palestinian children imprisoned by Israel.

The signatories include prominent actors Danny Glover, Rosario Dawson, Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams, and The Practice’s LisaGay Hamilton; musicians Vic Mensa, TalibKweli and Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello; civil rights leaders PatrisseCullors and Alicia Garza (co-founders of Black Lives Matter), Angela Davis, Michelle Alexander, and Alice Walker; political commentators Marc Lamont-Hill and Angela Rye; and Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman and super bowl champion Michael Bennett.

US Jewish comedian Sarah Silverman also came out to publicly show support for the imprisoned teen. She took it to Twitter to show solidarity with Ahed against the injustice committed by the Israeli government, saying that Jews must stand up for the activist and prisoner.

Silverman faced a wave of criticism from Twitter users after her tweet.

Back in Ahed’s hometown, Nabi Saleh, things were escalating. In February 2018, Israeli forces raided the village early in the morning and carried out a wide-scale raid operation, detaining up to 10 members of the Tamimi family, mostly minors, including 15-year-old Mohammad Tamimi, who was previously severely injured when shot in the face by Israeli forces in December and remains in serious condition and awaiting a new operation in March. His 17-year-old brother, Tamim, was also arrested.

In March, months after Ahed’s detention generated world condemnation and demand for her immediate release, a military court sentenced Ahed and her mother, Nariman to eight months in prison plus $1500 fine for each following a plea bargain between the Tamimis’ lawyer and the military prosecution.

A few weeks after the sentence, a video of her interrogation was released on by her family and showed the 17-year-old girl undergoing cruel and abusive interrogation at an Israeli army detention center following her arrest.

The video shows a two-hour interrogation session, during which two Israeli interrogators used abusive and threatening language to get Ahed to admit to whatever she was charged with.

However, she remained silent throughout the interrogation, as shown by the video.

In July, four months after Ahed was sentenced, it was the time for her release, a day considered a national celebration by many Palestinians who praised the young girl for being an icon for Palestinian resistance.

Ahed and her mother were finally released on July 28th after serving eight months in Israeli prisons. She is free at last and is able to taste freedom in her home while enjoying her status as a popular iconic, brave hero among Palestinians and many other Palestine supports.

Source: Palestine News & Info Agency