The parents of a Palestinian teenager jailed for famously slapping and kicking two fully-armed Israeli troopers in the occupied West Bank says their daughter was verbally harassed during lengthy and coercive interrogation sessions, according to a video they released of her being questioned.
Ahed Tamimi, now 17, recognizable since young age by her blond curly hair as well as her courageous posture, became the latest face of Palestinian resistance when a video emerged of her slapping one and then another Israeli officer in the face during a protest in her home village of Nabi Saleh, near the Palestinian city of Ramallah, in the West Bank on December 15 last year.
The confrontation reportedly erupted after Israeli forces shot Tamimi’s cousin in the face with rubber bullet earlier that day leading to her anger.
Faced with embarrassment as that video went viral, Israelis decided to arrest the courageous teenager. They took her into custody on December 19. According to some accounts, 20 Israeli army Jeeps arrived at Ahed’s house before dawn to arrest her. Thirteen days later, she was charged with alleged assault, incitement, and throwing stones at Israeli military soldiers.
Last month, Tamimi agreed to a plea bargain with prosecutors, in which she is to serve eight months in prison and pay a 5,000-shekel ($1,437) fine. The plea deal allowed her to avoid years-long prison terms. She is expected to be released this summer.
“The rounds of interrogation came after various methods of physical and psychological pressures put on her,” said her father, Bassem, during a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday, adding that her daughter had been kept in isolation and regularly moved between locations.
“She was deprived of sleep for long periods of time. In the final round of interrogations it was more than 34 hours without sleep,” he further said.
In the two-hour interrogation video, Ahed, aged 16 at the time, is seen, without an attorney or guardian, being questioned by two Israeli interrogators.
“This is to reiterate Ahed’s message, the message of her generation, that we are not victims, we are fighters for the cause, for freedom,” her father added.
Earlier this month, Gaby Lasky, Ahed’s lawyer, filed a complaint with the Israeli general attorney pertaining to the inappropriate manner of Tamimi’s interrogation while emphasizing her status as a female minor. Lasky stressed in the complaint that the interrogator’s actions were a “gross violation of the law” which amount to sexual harassment.
A few days later, the Israeli military, referring to Lasky’s complaint, said in a statement that “the claims are being thoroughly examined.”
Almost a week after Israeli security forces arrested the teenage girl, Ben Caspit, an Israeli columnist, reportedly notorious for his radicalism, called for the punishment of Ahed away from the public eye, in what Palestinian and other media suggest is a tacit encouragement of sexual abuse and even rape. The provocative remarks further infuriated Palestinians, who have since staged several protests demanding her release.
Amnesty International in January also called on the global community to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into releasing the Palestinian teen activist.
Rights group calls for probe into death of Palestinian
Separately on Monday, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights called for a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a Palestinian man gunned down after purportedly attempting to attack Israeli troopers.
Mohammad Anbar, 46, was pronounced dead in an Israeli hospital near Tel Aviv over the weekend, less than a week after being shot by an Israeli soldier. The Israeli military said Anbar was allegedly charging at troopers with a knife at a northern West Bank military checkpoint.
The rights group, however, says the gunfire was not justified, noting that Anbar’s brother and sister were not allowed to visit him in hospital to prevent him from “revealing the circumstances of the gunfire.”
The Palestinian NGO also called for an “immediate and impartial investigation” into Anbar’s death and for the “international community to compel Israel to respect international law and humanitarian law.”