Ahed al-Tamimi to Asharq Al-Awsat: I Would Slap the Israeli Soldier Again if Confronted by Him

Ahed al-Tamimi to Asharq Al-Awsat: I Would Slap the Israeli Soldier Again if Confronted by Him

Tuesday, 7 August, 2018 - 08:15
Ahed al-Tamimi posing for a picture with her mother Nariman after a press conference in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh in July. (AFP)
Al-Nabi Saleh (Ramallah) – Kifah Zboun
She was not the product of the moment and on top of everything she had her own camera, said the father of Ahed al-Tamimi, the Palestinian teenager who became an icon of resistance after video footage, shot by her mother, showed her slapping an Israeli soldier months ago.

Ahed represents the resistance history of her village, al-Nabi Saleh, Bassem al-Tamimi told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“She has been fighting this army ever since she was a child… Nariman (his wife) did not lay down the camera when her brother was being martyred. She did not drop it because she has a principle. Resistance is a principle and it comes at a cost,” he added.

Ahed was arrested only four days after slapping the soldier. Her mother soon followed. This was not Nariman’s first detention, but her sixth.

Nariman agrees with her husband and showed no regret for causing the arrest of her daughter.

She told Asharq Al-Awsat that she was aware that the slap would lead to arrest, adding: “This was for the sake of a principle. If the people behind the idea were not ready to make sacrifices, then who will?”

Asked by Asharq Al-Awsat if she had ever wished for her daughter to have enjoyed the life of an ordinary child, who spends his days playing and laughing, Nariman replied: “No. On the contrary, I call on all parents to liberate their children this way.”

“I see how some children stand defiantly against an approaching soldier, but they flee when they see their father approaching. How are we to demand the liberation of our land and we have not yet freed our children?” she asked.

At this, Bassem interjected, saying that the Nabi Saleh resistance was a success because of its strong feminist element.

“Ahed’s slap was more powerful than any rifle,” he stated.

Through their peaceful resistance, Bassem and Nariman seek to portray the Israeli soldier as immoral, an occupier and a killer. This is an approach that has set Nabi Saleh apart from other villages.

Some villagers lamented that this approach had not caught on elsewhere, at which others said that it has not enjoyed the necessary official backing.

“Do not get your hopes up. They only support us with words, which yield nothing,” they said.

They have turned the popular resistance into a source of income and wealth. This is what they want They are rich, but they have nothing on the ground, they added.

Nabi Saleh came to prominence in 2009 after protests were staged over the expansion of the nearby Halamish Israeli settlement. The large settlement was built on a hill overlooking the Arab villages in the 1970s.

Ahed’s house overlooks the majority of the settlement homes. An Israeli aircraft flies nearby, taking photographs of people, who may “pose a threat” to Israelis.

As one approaches the Halamish border, the landscape changes and the roads become dusty. A sign warns Israelis against entering “unsafe” areas that are under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

Nabi Saleh is no different than other villages. Its 500-strong population is comprised of mainly the Tamimi family members. Any outsiders seen in the village have arrived there in search of Ahed’s house.

The attention Ahed’s case has gotten stole the spotlight from other detained women, drawing the ire of many sides.

The main cause of this anger is the fact that the teenager is a blond with European features. It is this appearance that had garnered her the West’s attention.

Ahed’s parents realize this, which her mother deems as racist.

“The world voiced solidarity with my daughter because she is blond and looks like them. There are several other female detainees besides Ahed,” Nariman stressed.

Ahed’s photographs have been hung throughout her house, including a large one of her with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who received her soon after her release.

The December 15 slap incident was not the first of Ahed showing her resisting Israeli soldiers. In August 2015, she was shown trying with her mother to save her brother, Mohammed, from being arrested by a soldier.

In 2012, Ahed led a group of Palestinian children, including Mohammed, in a verbal dispute with soldiers. At one point she is seen waving her fist in front of a soldier. The photo of that incident was the first to bring her to the world’s attention.

Eight months in prison over the December incident did not change Ahed very much. She appeared more weary over receiving visitors than time spent behind bars.

She told Asharq Al-Awsat: “If the same soldier returns, I would slap him again.”

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