At around 3 am on Monday 26 February, Israeli occupation forces raided the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Ten people, including 6 children , were detained .
One of those arrested was 15 year old Mohammed Fadel Tamimi, the cousin of Ahed Tamimi, who had been shot in the head at close range in December. Since the boy was shot, one third of his skull has been removed and he is awaiting major restorative surgery to put it back in.
Haaretz writer Amira Hass has described his arrest, “Still in the dark, half asleep and shaken, surrounded by rifles pointing at him, with air reeking of tear gas and the disgusting smell of the skunk-water sprayed by the troops – Mohammed Tamimi was taken in for interrogation.”
The December shooting incident had provoked teenager Ahed Tamimi to struggle with Israel forces entering her family property. In the struggle Ahed slapped a soldier. The slap was captured on video. Ahed has been in prison ever since her arrest in 19 December. She has been denied bail on the argument that she is so dangerous that she might slap another Israeli soldier.
Ahed Tamimi, indeed the entire Tamimi family and the entire village Nabi Saleh have become inspiring icons, representing the spirit of Palestinian people who refuse, non-violently, inspite of an extreme unbalance of power, to submit to oppression. This spirit the Israelis are determined to squash in its entirety. The village raid is seen as part of a pre-meditated revenge campaign.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman promised collective punishment, “Everyone involved, not only the girl but also her parents and those around them will not escape from what they deserve.” On January 03 , Musab Tamimi, a 16-year-old was shot dead in the West Bank village of Deir Nitham , near Nabi Saleh. He was the first Palestinian to be killed by Israeli occupation forces in 2018.
Israeli officials are determined to discredit the Tamimi family. In January, a senior Israeli official, Michael Owen alleged that they were not a real family but rather a group of “blond, blue-eyed and light-skinned” actors hired, ‘Palywood’, to “make Israel look bad.”
Right-wing Israelis accept as truth anything the Israeli IDF says. The IDF accuses all Palestinians of being consummate liars.
Now Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, COGAT, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, has writen on his Facebook page that the truth has come out! The IDF has been the victim of a conspiracy!
The General’s proof? Easy!
Mohammed Tamimi confessed to being a liar. He wasn’t shot, he fell off his bike. Mordechai added that Palestinians are so stupid, thinking they could concoct a lie in order to slander the IDF, that could be so easily disproved.
The boy lied, all Palestinians lie. Israel’s right-wing media agreed, telling readers that they have the choice , either believe the IDF or believe Palestinians.
They are all liars, Mohammed Tamimi’s parents, members of his extended family, Israeli leftist activist Jonathan Pollak, the doctors at the Palestinian hspital in Ramallah. Pollak was with the boy at the time and tried to get an Israeli hospital to agree to admit Mohammed.
What about the confession then? Mohammed had no one to support him or offer advice, normal procedure for interrogating Palestinian children. Israel is very experienced at obtaining confessions from Palestinian children, using either physical abuse or psychological abuse or both . Children are threatened that if they don’t confess, the IDF will go after family members. If they don’t confess, they will be locked up for a very long time.
What was going through Mohammed’s mind? Maybe he was afraid soldiers would poke around the part of his head with no skull. Maybe he was afraid that he would locked up so long that he would miss the appointment for further operations. Maybe he was exhausted and just wanted to get back to his parents.
And the doctors? Are they liars too? The doctor who treated Mohammed told Defense for Children International-Palestine that the boy “underwent two operations to remove the rubber-coated metal bullet, which lodged in the back of his skull and caused severe bleeding in his brain.” Haaretz has published photos of the hospital X-ray showing the bullet encased in Mohammed’s head, as well as of the bullet itself, after it was removed. But Haaretz has a very low circulation.
As Palestinian-American journalist Ali Abunimah has pointed out in his electronicintifada website, the IDF version is really designed for Israel’s extreme right wing base.
“To sustain the level of oppression that Palestinians face, Israel needs to constantly convince its “home front” that it is in the right, that its soldiers are doing good and that Palestinians are uncivilized beasts who never really suffer, but only lie and fabricate to harm the image of Israel’s “most moral army in the world.”And on the world stage, Israel is ever more reliant on alliances with a global far-right that is eager to lap up such lies, just as it shares Israel’s rampant Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia.
The message for anyone who cares about human rights is very clear: an Israel this unhinged and brazen doesn’t care about what human rights groups say in their meticulous reports, and is not bothered by the timid bleatings of European Union and UN officials.
Israel only cares what people do, so the answer to this outrage must be more efforts to isolate this regime and make it pay a price through boycotts, divestment and sanction. “
What about us here in Aotearoa/New Zealand? Why is there no outrage? Who are our moral leaders? Can they be found in the academic world, the religious sector, the political sector, the mainstream media?
Ah, mainstream media. Silence is the most powerful form of censorship. We can all say, ‘but we didn’t know.’
Lois Griffiths is a human rights activist