Ramallah, West Bank – A video showing a portion of an Israeli interrogation session with jailed teen activist Ahed Tamimi was released to the public on Monday at a press conference in Ramallah, showing Israel’s interrogation tactics on the then 16-year-old.
The video showed a portion of a more than two-hour interrogation session with the minor at Israel’s Shaar Binyamin detention centre in the occupied West Bank on December 26.
The Israeli interrogators used verbal threats and intimidation techniques to coerce Ahed into cooperating with Israeli authorities.
Israeli interrogators are seen commenting on Ahed’s light skin. “My little sister is blonde and her eyes are like yours,” one of the interrogators said in the video, and asked Tamimi if her skin also turned red when she goes to the beach.
These tactics were used “just to get her to interact with the interrogators,” Bassem Tamimi, her father, told reporters at the conference.
They also intentionally mispronounced her mother Nariman’s name to get her to say something.
Throughout the interrogation, Ahed responded only with “I choose to remain silent”.
The interrogators threatened to arrest her friends and family if she did not speak, naming her relatives in Nabi Saleh by their first names.
“We will arrest everyone in the video,” one of the Israeli interrogators said.
They continued: “I don’t want to have to bring those children here … You say something, maybe we don’t need to.”
At least one of Ahed’s cousins named by the interrogators, Osama Tamimi, 22, was arrested almost two months after his name was mentioned by the interrogators.
At least 20 other residents, the majority of whom are minors, have also been arrested from the village since Ahed’s arrest.
Her mother, Nariman, who was arrested a few hours after Ahed when she went to check up on her at the same detention centre, also became the focus of interrogations.
One of the interrogators referred to an earlier interrogation session with Tamimi’s mother: “I told her the same thing I told you: ‘You are a mother. You should be home with your husband, with your kids.'”
Ahed was detained in December after a video showing her slapping and kicking armed Israeli soldiers outside her home in Nabi Saleh village, went viral.
She was subsequently charged by an Israeli military court with 12 counts of aggravated assault and incitement.
Shortly before the incident, Ahed was informed her cousin was in a coma after being shot point-blank in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet.
Ahed turned 17 in Israel’s HaSharon prison, where she is being held along with her mother.
Last month, Ahed was sentenced to eight months in prison, including time served, after accepting a plea deal that saw the minor accepting four out of the 12 charges initially brought against her.
Following her arrest, Tamimi became an international symbol for the treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons.
‘Textbook Israeli interrogation tactics’
Owing to Ahed being a minor, Israeli authorities are required to provide a portion of the interrogations to the defence lawyer, according to Bassem, Ahed’s father, who attended the news conference.
Dawoud Yusef, an advocacy coordinator for Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, told Al Jazeera that the video is “essentially a textbook example of the interrogation tactics that we see used against Palestinian children who are being prosecuted in both [Israeli] civil courts and military courts”.
These include verbal threats to children and their relatives, long hours of multiple interrogation sessions, the use of “petty violence”, and conducting interrogation sessions after an Israeli night arrest, when children are often severely sleep-deprived.
In Ahed’s case, during the first 10 days of interrogation, the minor was held in isolation and was transferred in between Israeli prisons several times, which can cause serious exhaustion and stress.
According to Bassem, Ahed would also be transferred along with Israeli criminals, who would threaten and scare her.
At one point, Ahed was interrogated after being deprived of sleep for 40 hours.
Her interrogation sessions lasted for up to 12 hours, according to Bassem.
“The intended effect of these techniques is to break the child’s ability to resist the interrogators, and to provide them with the desired confession or information,” Yusef said.
The majority of Palestinian children break under Israeli interrogations. Most sign a confession, often written in Hebrew, a language most Palestinians in the West Bank do not understand, Yusef told Al Jazeera.
These tactics can affect children long after the interrogations are over, Yusef explained.
Addameer has documented cases where “children are unable to sleep at their homes out of fear of future arrests, unable to concentrate at school, and carry around an overwhelming sense of anxiety regarding themselves and the status of their families.”
However, for Ahed, who has been raised in a politically active village often targeted by Israeli forces, she refused to speak throughout the entirety of her interrogations with Israeli authorities.
Bassem Tamimi said these tactics were used on Tamimi in order to “break the symbol that Ahed has created through her resistance to the occupation”.
“We want to reiterate Ahed’s message and the message of her generation: we are not victims, we are fighters for the freedom of our people,” Bassem Tamimi said.
This video shows how Israel is “targeting the childhood” of Palestinians, he noted.
Through Ahed’s resistance, “we want to tell mothers and fathers that their children are strong and can confront and fight this occupation”, Bassem Tamimi said.
“There is no peace under this occupation and there is no silence under this occupation.”