The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been floating in and out of mainstream news for quite a while. Most recently, the conflict was once again brought to the limelight after President Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, although Jerusalem is highly contested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Previously, the area was unrecognized by many countries as belonging to Israel in order to avoid instigating the conflict further. The decision was firmly rebuked by the United Nations.
This seemed to be the last time anybody paid attention to the tensions between Israel and the unrecognized country of Palestine. However, tensions continue to brew, especially after the arrest of Ahed Tamimi.
Ahed is a sixteen-year-old Palestinian girl. Last Tuesday, she was arrested for heckling Israeli soldiers in her yard. A video of the incident surfaced on Facebook, which was reportedly recorded on Dec. 14. The soldiers, armed heavily, remain unflinching as Ahed yells. Moments before, Ahed’s 14-year-old cousin, Mohammad, had shot in the head by a rubber bullet fired by the Israeli soldiers. Doctors put the boy in a medically-induced coma. Ahed’s father insists “Ahed was telling the soldiers to get away from our home. She was trying to force them to leave to prevent the soldiers from hurting anyone else.”
Ahed’s mother visited her at the police station after her arrest to be present as she was interrogated, in accordance with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel which is an Israeli nongovernmental organization (NGO) that stipulates that a parent has the right to accompany their child during an interrogation in the occupied Palestinian territory.
This is not the first time Ahed’s face has been emblazoned as an icon for Palestinian resistance. At age 13, Ahed won the Handala Courage Award in Turkey, after a photographic series was published of the her and her mother and aunt attempting to save her injured brother Mohammad, then 11 years old, from being arrested by Israeli forces in 2015.
Some praise the soldiers for their composure and discipline.
Say what you will about Israel’s army, the IDF – I don’t think there’s another military, anywhere in the world, whose soldiers and officers would respond to being slapped, shoved, kicked, punched, and screamed at with such quiet restraint. pic.twitter.com/PVQHueD94o
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) December 18, 2017
However, others point out that soldiers were indeed in Ahed’s yard and she was only yelling at them to leave in response to the news that they had just shot her cousin.
Come again? The fully armed soldier is in their backyard. The young girl is shouting "don't touch me" and "get out" https://t.co/bLHKJapa4O
— مريم البرغوثي (@MariamBarghouti) December 19, 2017
In response to the controversy surrounding Ahed’s arrest, Naftali Bennet, Israel’s education minister, told Army Radio that Ahed and the other women in the video should “finish their lives in prison.” It is clear at this point that the Israeli government views the incident with great regard, and that Ahed’s case will be amplified even further due to the controversy it has stirred. That being said, it would take quite the miracle for Ahed and her mother to be given a light punishment. But should a 16-year-old girl be punished so brutally for reprimanding a grown soldier? Will the punishment fit the crime?
Moreover, the precise charges that Ahed and her mother are facing has yet to be released. Will the charges accurately reflect the crime? Could Ahed’s actions even be considered a crime? What charges could her mother be facing?