Gaby Lasky Eight months did not break Tamimi
Eight months did not break Tamimi
By Gaby Lasky
Ahed Tamimi will be released today after serving eight months in prison as a political prisoner. On the face of it, the excessive prison sentence imposed on her is a direct result of her daring to resist the invasion of her home by soldiers. But after I was privileged to represent Tamimi in all the proceedings before the military court, it is clear to me that there is no connection between her slapping the soldier and the punishment that she received. The eight months of imprisonment, just like the highly publicised nightly arrest and the aggressive interrogations of the minor, amounted to yet another failed attempt to break the spirit of a teenage girl who opposes the Occupation regime and prevent other Palestinians from acting like any person who lives under occupation would want to act.
As soon as the slap had resonated throughout the world, the Occupation enforcement agencies were working to collect a price tag from a 16-year-old teenager for her opposition. Israeli society could not sustain the "violation of national honour" of her resistance. Members of Knesset and ministers called for a heavy price to be paid and set the IDF at the Tamimi home to arrest her in the middle of the night.
IDF cameras recorded the handcuffed girl surrounded by masked warriors and rushed to distribute the videos with pride, as if it were the legendary return of the hostages from Entebbe airport in 1976 and not the arrest of a teen in a village which is half an hour from the Israeli capital.
Attempts to break Tamimi continued even after the arrest. Police and Military Intelligence investigators had used aggressive and legally questionable interrogation methods, such as threatening to arrest relatives, some of them children, and harassing behaviour by one of the interrogators against her. Faced with those violent men who sought to intimidate anyone who would dare to resist the Occupation, a courageous girl stood up and did not flinch for a moment.
The Israeli authorities could not ignore the way in which Tamimi was seen as an international hero, who enjoys widespread support. In the face of posters of her proliferating around the world and the flood of diplomats and journalists who came to support Tamimi or to cover the proceedings, someone apparently remembered for a moment the shame that had long since been lost. A decision was then made to conduct the trial behind closed doors, claiming that it was "in the best interest of a minor".
But anyone who thought that they would break Tamimi's spirit with violence, threats, and inflated imprisonment found that all this only made her stronger. Where the authorities tried to hide the Occupation and its consequences, Ahed managed to shine the torch on its injustices. Upon her release, Tamimi would visit Khan al-Ahmar - the Bedouin village scheduled to be demolished. The solidarity that she would demonstrate with the villagers will draw the attention of the public to the brutal expulsion of the local residents. Yet another example of the Israeli government's attempt to block any possibility of territorial contiguity in the West Bank and bring us closer to the vision of institutionalised apartheid between the Jordan and the sea.
The members of the government already know in their hearts that they made a mistake when they pressed for Ahed’s arrest and imprisonment. Armed fighters, unbridled investigators, and a biased military justice system were unable to break her spirit.
Now that the Palestinian girl has managed to illustrate the injustices of the Occupation though her arrest and prolonged imprisonment, the Israeli opposition must act. We must remind ourselves and other from every podium the lesson we have learnt from Ahed’s life story: There are no American planes or German submarines, jailed Palestinian minors or displaced families who would the demand of millions of Palestinians for independence, freedom and life with dignity.
If we do not internalise this now and if we do not awaken the Israeli community from the moral coma in which it has been living for 51 years, we will continue to deteriorate into the reality of cruel Apartheid, which sends our children to the territories to oppress unarmed opponents of a regime of occupation.
The writer is the lawyer and human rights activist who represented Tamimi
Translated by Sol Salbe for the Middle East News Service, Melbourne, Australia. Hebrew original: https://www.haaretz.co.il/opinions/.premium-1.6317644