The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Israeli lawmaker stands by call to shoot Ahed Tamimi

Tamara Nassar, The Electronic Intifada, 25 April 2018

Ahed Tamimi’s lawyer called for an investigation into sexual harassment during the teenager’s interrogation. (Oren Ziv, ActiveStills)

Israeli lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich published a tweet on 21 April calling for a Palestinian child prisoner to be shot.

Smotrich wrote that he was “very sad” that Ahed Tamimi is in jail because she “should have gotten a bullet, at least in the kneecap.”

“That would have put her under house arrest for the rest of her life,” the lawmaker added, according to the newspaper Haaretz.

Smotrich is a member of the extreme right-wing nationalist party Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home).

He has advocated a plan for the expulsion of Palestinians that a noted Israeli Holocaust expert has described as potentially genocidal.

That expert also said that Smotrich’s values resemble those of the Nazi SS.

Smotrich was responding to Israeli journalist Yinon Magal, who wrote, according to Haaretz, “I’m watching this clip again and I am so glad that Tamimi is still in jail. Sometimes, it’s good that the mill of justice grinds slowly.”

Magal tweeted a video that appears to show Ahed Tamimi confronting armed Israeli occupation soldiers on a different occasion from the one for which she was arrested last December.

Twitter temporarily suspended Smotrich’s account and the tweet was deleted.

But Smotrich said that he “stands behind every word in that tweet,” insisting that deterrence is “attained through a balance of terror which is based on our capabilities, on draconian and disproportionate punishment – house demolitions, deportation of families, etc.”

Another Israeli journalist, Tzippy Yarom, tweeted that Smotrich was wrong to settle for a mere shot in the kneecap, but that Ahed Tamimi should be killed.

A video released earlier this month shows two Israeli interrogators taunting and abusing Ahed during an interrogation at a police station in the Shaar Binyamin settlement in the occupied West Bank on 26 December.

During the interrogation, the Israelis shout at and threaten the then 16-year-old, but she remains silent in the face of attempts to coerce a confession, including through sexual harassment and threats to arrest members of her family.

Ahed’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky also filed a complaint, earlier this month with Israel’s attorney general over the sexual harassment of Ahed during the interrogation – though the office has done nothing about previous complaints.

The incitement by Israeli public figures to shoot a child is notable amid the current reality where that is precisely what Israeli soldiers are ordered to do by their commanders.

And such incitement is endemic among Israeli social media users.

One out of every nine Facebook posts written about Palestinians contains a call for violence or a curse, according to a recent study of Israeli social media practices conducted by the Palestinian campaign group 7amleh.

Arrested as minors, tried as adults

Meanwhile, Palestinian teen prisoner Abdul Khalik Burnat, from the Palestinian village of Bilin, was sentenced to 19 months in prison and a nearly $5,000 fine on 22 April by an Israeli military tribunal.

Burnat was accused of throwing stones – one of the most common pretexts Israel uses to arrest children – and of causing damage to Israel’s apartheid wall.

He was “kidnapped, beaten and detained on the night of 10 December while getting pizza along with his friends,” according to prisoners rights group Samidoun.

Burnat’s father, Iyad Burnat, is a prominent advocate of unarmed resistance in Bilin who featured in the award-winning documentary 5 Broken Cameras.

Abdul Khalik Burnat was just 17 when he was arrested, but was subjected to an Israeli military tribunal after he turned 18.

“Many arrested Palestinian children go through lengthy court hearings and their sentencing hearings take place after they reach the age of 18,” according to Samidoun.

Palestinians who are tried before Israel’s military kangaroo courts are faced with a near-100 percent conviction rate.

In January 2017, Israeli forces shot Burnat in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet – a potentially lethal weapon.

Occupation forces also previously detained him in a night raid in March 2017, while he was still recovering from his injuries, Samidoun added.

Israeli police detain two Palestinian boys during a demonstration in Jerusalem’s Old City, 7 December. (Oren Ziv, ActiveStills)

Israel targets Jerusalem children

Almost one-fifth of all Palestinians arrested by Israel in 2017 were children from occupied East Jerusalem – amounting to 1,138 children, according to a new report by prisoners rights group Addameer.

Given that Palestinians in Jerusalem represent only six percent of the Palestinian population under Israeli military occupation, “it is safe to say that Jerusalemite children are experiencing a concentrated campaign of arrests,” Addameer stated.