NABI SALEH, PALESTINE — The struggle for Palestinian human rights and children abused under Israeli occupation has burst into the international spotlight with the help of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi. Tamimi is no stranger to the Palestinian struggle or the spotlight — she has faced off with her oppressor far too many times in her short life.
Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi has come to age under Israeli occupation, bestowing a unique and distressing childhood experience. Her family participates in weekly protests in Nabi Saleh — the small village, threatened by illegal settlements, in which they live. Tamimi’s family has repeatedly found itself the target of Israel’s violence as a result of its commitment to resisting occupation forces.
Tamimi, along with her family, has not bowed to the pressure, run from the persecution, or faltered, even after relatives have been injured and killed. Instead, they continue to stand up in the face of their oppressors, with Tamimi herself fighting back both verbally and physically on multiple occasions — such as when she fought off soldiers attempting to arrest her brother or when she was caught on video telling off a soldier who hurled a concussion grenade near her.
In late 2016, while in the West Bank, investigative journalist Abby Martin had the opportunity to interview Tamimi for the Empire Files, a documentary series airing on Telesur. The two discussed the hardships of living under Israeli occupation as well as Tamimi’s future aspirations. It quickly becomes apparent why her oppressors are attempting to silence the teen and her family.
Tamimi’s recent arrest
Moment’s before Tamimi was shown on tape attempting to physically force Israeli forces off her family’s land, her cousin Mohammad was shot in the head, point blank. Despite internal bleeding, Mohammad miraculously survived the ordeal.
A few days later, Israeli forces returned for Tamimi. In the middle of the night, the teen was violently arrested by armed forces. Along with Tamimi, her mother, aunt, and 20-year-old cousin have also been arrested. Tamimi’s mother was charged with incitement for simply uploading the video of her daughter to social media.
The Tamimi family is no stranger to Israeli aggression
Following Tamimi’s recent arrest, her father took to Facebook, where he shared details of his family’s phones, cameras and laptops being stolen during a raid by Israeli forces in response to the incident. It was not his first time detailing such an experience. Tamimi’s father is a principal organizer of the weekly protests in their village.
Most recently, Musaab, a young relative of Tamimi, was killed by Israeli forces when he was shot at close range. His death marked the first murder of a Palestinian by Israel in 2018.
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According to many members of the Tamimi family, Israel has been actively persecuting them for years as they engage in weekly protests against the theft of their land. Firas Tamimi, Mussab’s father, told Al-Jazeera:
“The occupation army has been raiding both Deir Nitham and Nabi Saleh day in and day out. They come in, irritate the residents, raid our homes at night and throw sound bombs in the street. This has been our reality every day.
We cannot just keep quiet and keep watching. No one is listening to us – no one feels the pain that we’re going through. The world is just silently watching.”
A village in constant protest
In 2016 Martin visited the family’s village, Nabi Saleh, the site of weekly non-violent marches against illegal settlements that are stealing lands belonging to Palestinian families and farmers. The area is littered with evidence of the constant conflict, with used munitions scattered about.
The village is small, with fewer than 200 residents, and is under constant surveillance. It is surrounded by permanent Israeli bases and dangerous checkpoints. Occupation forces rule over the area, frequently closing streets and entering homes whenever they deem necessary. In multiple directions, new and constantly expanding Israeli settlements, filled with armed and dangerous Israeli militia, dot the landscape.
Tamimi told Martin:
All my family here is in danger, we are at risk of dying at any moment. At anytime I can expect a soldier coming towards me to shoot me and kill me. This feeling affects us permanently. This feeling cannot be explained or put into words. Those who do not live our suffering cannot understand it, and no one can translate it into words.”
Watch | Martin’s exclusive 2016 interview with Tamimi
As Tamimi sits in jail awaiting trial following her recent arrest, the teen’s image is being plastered across both mainstream and independent media outlets. Tamimi’s supporters have gathered in protest to show their support and others have taken to social media to amplify her message. To many, Tamimi is a shining example when it comes to the Palestinian resistance, but to others, she is the enemy.
As of January 4, 14 Palestinians have been killed by occupation forces since U.S. President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December. It is no wonder Tamimi is so outspoken, passionate and fearless.
As she has said herself, “All I wish is for Palestine to be free.”
Top Photo | 17 year-old Ahed Tamimi is brought to a courtroom inside Ofer military prison near Jerusalem, Dec. 28, 2017. Tamimi was arrested last week for slapping two Israeli soldiers who shot her 15-year old cousin in the face. She faces charges of attacking soldiers. (AP/Mahmoud Illean)