Palestinian protesters demand Ahed Tamimi’s release

Hundreds rally in occupied West Bank to demand Israel releases 16-year-old who was arrested a month ago with her mother.

Nabi Saleh, occupied West Bank – Israeli forces have fired tear gas as hundreds of Palestinians protested against the detention of a prominent teenage activist and her mother.

Ahed Tamimi, 16, was detained on December 19 in an overnight raid at her home in the village of Nabi Saleh after a video showing her hitting and slapping Israeli soldiers went viral. Shortly before, her 15-year-old cousin Mohammad was shot point-blank in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet, which left him in a medically induced coma for 72 hours.

Ahed was indicted on 12 charges earlier this month and could face up to 10 years in prison. Her mother, Nariman, and her 20-year-old cousin Nour were also detained shortly afterwards. Nour has since been released on bail. 

On Saturday, Palestinians from various villages in the occupied West Bank gathered in Nabi Saleh to demand the release of Ahed and her mother, as well as protest against US President Donald Trump’s move last month to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

However, Israeli forces stationed themselves at the entrance of Nabi Saleh an hour before the protest, preventing many foreign activists and journalists from entering the village while also turning away some Palestinians. 

Two children hold up posters calling for Ahed Tamimi's release [Jaclynn Ashly/Al Jazeera] 
Two children hold up posters calling for Ahed Tamimi’s release [Jaclynn Ashly/Al Jazeera] 

The demonstrators initially marched towards a hill adjacent to the illegal Halamish settlement, the construction of which has confiscated hundreds of hectares of Nabi Saleh’s land.

The protesters then moved on towards an Israeli checkpoint and military tower erected at the entrance of the village. 

Israeli forces fired tear gas, causing gas inhalation to dozens of protesters. At least seven demonstrators were injured by rubber bullets, residents told Al Jazeera.

‘Nothing will stop us from resisting’

Nabi Saleh has long held Friday protests against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank every Friday for years. 

Bassem Tamimi, Ahed’s father who has spent four years in an Israeli prison, said the message of Saturday’s demonstration was clear: “Palestinians will not keep silent while living under occupation”.

Ahed and Nariman are being held at Israel’s HaSharon prison in Israel. Owing to his previous imprisonment, Bassem is unable to obtain an Israeli permit to visit his daughter and wife in jail.

“I have experienced prison. I know what it’s like; I know how they are feeling,” he told Al Jazeera. “But at the same time, I am proud of them.”

Janna Jihad, 11, has been described as the youngest journalist in Palestine [Jaclynn Ashly/Al Jazeera]
Janna Jihad, 11, has been described as the youngest journalist in Palestine [Jaclynn Ashly/Al Jazeera]

Manal Tamimi, another member of the family of well-known activists who was shortly detained last month during another demonstration demanding the release of her relatives, said such protests were necessary to show Israel that “nothing will stop us from demanding our rights”.

According to Manal, who has been arrested several times over the years, Israeli authorities are attempting to dissuade other villages from adapting Nabi Saleh’s near-decade-long non-violent resistance.

“Even if they arrest children and women in the village, we will continue to fight against this occupation,” she told Al Jazeera.

“We want to make it clear that as long as they are oppressing us, Palestinians will continue to join the resistance.”

Among those demonstrating was also Janna Jihad, Ahed’s 11-year-old cousin who has been described as the “youngest journalist” in Palestine.

She told Al Jazeera that she “misses Ahed”, whom she described as her “best friend”.

Jihad said that Israel’s alleged targeting of children in Nabi Saleh was meant to “break young Palestinians”.

“They know that we are the next generation that fights to save Palestine.”

Source: Al Jazeera