Israel Threatens Teenage Girl Who Slapped a Soldier. Who is Ahed Tamimi?

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An activist speaks to an Israeli soldier during clashes in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Israeli officials threatened to retaliate against a teenage girl and her family after a video spread across social media of her slapping an Israeli soldier. Reuters

Israeli officials threatened to retaliate against a teenage girl and her family after a video spread across social media of her slapping an Israeli soldier.

“Everyone involved, not only the girl but also her parents and those around them, will not escape from what they deserve,” said Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday, hours after Israeli soldiers raided the young activist’s home and arrested her.

“Whoever goes wild during the day will be arrested at night. This is also an important message,” Lieberman continued.

The young activist is Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old Palestinian who has become a visible symbol of the Palestinian resistance against Israel. A video of her confronting an Israeli soldier during a protest went viral over the weekend, and eventually led to her arrest on Tuesday.

Tamimi is from a well-known activist family who lives in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, and many Palestinians view her as a hero.

“The Tamimis have been at the forefront of resistance to Israel’s military occupation. Their village land in Nabi Saleh is being taken for an illegal Israeli settlement, and Israeli soldiers are the agents securing this theft process,” Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, told Newsweek.

“Israeli military repression of protests by the villagers has left many members of the family wounded, killed or imprisoned over the years. Despite all of this criminality, Ahed, a young lady, is being labeled a provocateur by many in Israel for having the audacity to slap a heavily armed Israeli soldier.”

Tamimi is an icon for many Palestinians, but some members of Israel’s far-right accuse her and her family of deliberately using social media to discredit Israel and portray it in the worst light possible.

Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the U.S., said Tamimi is a pawn used to spread anti-Israeli sentiment.

“The Tamimi family—which may not be a real family—dresses up kids in American clothes and pays them to provoke IDF troops on camera. This cynical and cruel use of children constitutes abuse. Human rights organizations must investigate!” Oren tweeted on Tuesday.

Clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers are common in the area, and have intensified in recent weeks following President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. During protests last week, Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian protester in a wheelchair, among others. 

And Tamimi isn’t the only teenager whose image went viral. The iconic image of a blindfolded 16-year-old Palestinian named Fawzi al Junaidi being dragged by Israeli soldiers became a symbol of last week’s protests against Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 

The status of Jerusalem is at the forefront of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians because half of Jerusalem has been envisioned as the future capital of a Palestinian state. For many Muslims in the Middle East, Trump’s announcement put an end to any chance of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Tamimi’s mother also was arrested during the Tuesday morning raid. A court hearing for both Tamimi and her mother is scheduled for Wednesday.