Sixteen year old Ahed Tamimi appears in an Israeli military court in Occupied Palestinian Territory after Israeli soldiers forcibly entered her family’s house in the middle of the night on December 19th and arrested her. She remains in custody without charge. The Palestinian Canadian Congress has written an urgent letter to Minister Freeland expressing concerns for Ahed’s safety and asking the Minister to raise the issue with her Israeli counterparts. Read more….
The Palestinian Canadian Congress has raised an alarm over the conditions of detention of Ahed Tamimi, a 16 year old Palestinian youth being held in an Israeli military jail. In a letter to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, the President of the PCC Aiman Shakra asks the minister to “urgently take up the issue of Ms. Tamimi’s arrest and incarceration with the Israeli government to ensure that Israel is respecting its obligations under the Geneva Convention”.
There is good reason for concern. According to Defence for Children International, (DCI) approximately 500-700 Palestinian children and youth, some as young as 12 years, are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system every year. The most common charge is stone throwing. DCI alleges that many are tortured, including being beaten, blindfolded, and put in solitary confinement for long periods.
The treatment of Palestinian child prisoners by Israel is already the object of a human rights campaign in Canada called “No Way to Treat a Child”, backed by many Canadian organizations including Amnesty International Canada, the Mennonite Central Committee and the United Church of Canada.
A slap heard round the world
But the PCC has a particular reason to be concerned about what the Israeli military court system might do to the fiery young Ahed Tamimi. She, and all the members of her family, in the small West Bank town of Nebi Saleh, have for several years been waging a determined struggle to preserve the village water supply, which is being increasingly menaced by settlers from a nearby Israeli settlement.
Their struggle has been well document in “The Way to the Spring: life and death in Palestine“, a moving book by Ben Ehrenrich, a Jewish American author. In it, Ehrenreich explains how the Israeli settlement (which Canada along with the UN calls “illegal”) is attempting to take over the village water supply, under the protection of soldiers from Israel’s defence forces (IDF). The villagers show determined resistance, and Ahed has become in some way a public face of that resistance.
During those encounters, other villagers, including her father and other family members, have been arrested, beaten and imprisoned by the IDF. But this time something different happened, a video was taken of Ahed verbally attacking an IDF soldier shortly after her 12 year old cousin Mohammed had been shot in the face. She ends up slapping him. See video of incident here.
The confiscation of a Palestinian village’s water supply by settlers protected by the IDF, does not appear to cause any significant concern in Israel, but the video of a 16 year old girl slapping an Israeli soldier immediately after her cousin was shot, provoked outrage. There were calls for her arrest. One Israeli journalist even hinted darkly that she should be dealt with “in the dark, without witnesses and cameras”, which many interpreted as a threat to rape her (or worse), though now the journalist denies that was his meaning. Another Israeli publication demanded punishment for having “beaten helpless Israeli soldiers”.
PCC calls for protection for Ahed
In his letter , the PCC president calls on Minister Freeland to raise with her Israeli counterpart the issue of the arrest and conditions of incarceration of a 16 year old Palestinian girl. He notes that the incident and the arrest took place in territory that Canada recognizes as Occupied Palestinian Territory.
In addition to writing to Minister Freeland, the Palestinian Canadian Congress urges its members and other concerned individuals to do the same.
“We invite the Palestinian Canadians and our friends to join us in requesting that Canada should live up to its obligations in protecting Ahed Tamimi and to ensure Israel is respecting its obligations under the Geneva Convention.
BREAKING NEWS: ON Jan 1, Ahed Tamimi was charged with aggravated assault. She will appear in a military court where the conviction rate is 99%, according to the most recent US State Department report.
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