Ahed Tamimi in court
Ahed Tamimi © Getty images

16-year-old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi could face up to ten years in prison over an altercation with Israeli soldiers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). 

Ahed, charged with aggravated assault of soldiers and incitement, will also remain in custody until the end of her trial.

According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is a state party, the arrest, detention or imprisonment of children must be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.

Ahed’s detention does not meet this criteria. In fact, nothing the teen has done can justify her continued detention – it is outrageously excessive for such a comparatively small crime and entirely inappropriate for a child. The Israeli authorities must acknowledge this and release her immediately.

‘She should finish her life in prison’

On 15 December 2017, Ahed confronted two Israeli soldiers during a demonstration against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Her charges come after a video emerged showing Ahed shoving, slapping and kicking the soldiers in her home village of Nabi Saleh.

The video shows that the soldiers, who were standing on the edge of the family’s property armed with assault rifles, were able to lightly swat her away.

‘In capturing an unarmed teenage girl’s assault on two armed soldiers wearing protective gear, the footage of this incident shows that she posed no actual threat and that her punishment is blatantly disproportionate.’ Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director

However, the clip outraged many Israelis. Education Minister Naftali Bennett even told a radio station that Ahed and two other women involved in the incident ‘should finish their lives in prison’. 

Ahed’s lawyer says she has faced several long and aggressive interrogation sessions, sometimes during the night, and that interrogators have threatened the safety of her family. 

Her family says she has also endured several physically-exhausting transfers from prison to court alongside other child detainees, without access to a toilet. 

Hundreds of Palestinian children prosecuted every year

There are currently around 350 Palestinian children detained in Israel, according to local human rights organisations. 

The Israeli army prosecutes hundreds of Palestinian children in juvenile military courts every year, often after arresting them in night raids. They are frequently subjected to ill-treatment, including blindfolding, threats, harsh interrogations without the presence of their lawyers or families, solitary confinement and physical violence. 

Ahed’s arrest and military trial exposes the Israeli authorities’ discriminatory treatment of Palestinian children who dare to stand up to ongoing, often brutal, repression by Israeli forces.

How you can help

Israel’s military rule disrupts every aspect of daily life for Palestinians. The settlements they have built in OPT means that – for decades – humiliation, discrimination and oppression have been facts of life for people just like Ahed.

For half a century, Palestinians have been forced from their homes to make way for illegal Israeli settlements. 

Products from these settlements frequently end up on sale in the UK. We want governments, including our own, to stop enabling the economy that keeps these illegal settlements growing and that directly fuels the suffering of Palestinians. 

All settlement goods are tainted by human rights abuse – show your support for activists like Ahed by telling the UK to ban them now.

Ahed’s family 

The incident involving Ahed took place on the same day that her 15-year-old cousin, Mohammad, was hit in the head at close range by a rubber bullet fired by an Israeli soldier. His family told us that he needed surgery to remove part of his skull.

Four days later, Ahed and her mother Nariman were arrested by Israeli soldiers during a night raid on their home. The arrests took place after Nariman, also a prominent activist, posted the footage online. 

Another cousin of Ahed’s, Nour, 21, was arrested the following day but has since been released on bail. On 1 January, Ahed and Nariman were charged with aggravated assault of soldiers and preventing them from carrying out their duties. 

Ahed’s father, Bassem Tamimi – a former Amnesty prisoner of conscience – has recently been banned from leaving the country. The Israeli authorities have also issued a threat to a further 20 members of the Tamimi family that they could be banned from living in Nabi Saleh.

Totally ignoring the law

This has been going on for some time. Since 2009, the small village of Nabi Saleh, north-west of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, has been the scene of regular Friday protests against Israel’s military occupation, the theft of land and the loss of the community’s water source. 

The Israeli army routinely uses excessive force against protesters and bystanders, and has in many cases deliberately damaged private property. During the past nine years, three residents have been killed by Israeli soldiers, while hundreds have suffered injuries caused by live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas. 

By continuing with Ahed’s prosecution, Israel is totally ignoring its obligations under international law to protect children from overly harsh criminal punishments.