by Noah Kulwin
Photo: Haim Schwarczenberg, https://schwarczenberg.com
AHED TAMIMI WILL BE GOING TO JAIL for 8 months, as part of a plea bargain announced by the 17-year-old’s lawyer on Wednesday. According to her lawyer, Tamimi was staring down a three year sentence for 12 charges, stemming from a December viral video in which Tamimi was filmed slapping an armed Israeli soldier present on her family’s property. Counting time already served, Tamimi is expected to be released back to her home this summer.
Thus concludes the prosecution of one of the most dangerous threats to the Jewish state to date: a 17-year-old girl armed with Facebook Live and her fists (and in a separate incident, according to one of the dismissed charges against her, a stone). The overzealous reaction to Ahed’s actions sparked worldwide condemnation of the Israeli military. Moreover, the extremity of the reaction from Israeli authorities exposes the grave threat that activists like Ahed and her family pose to the ongoing occupation.
To control the lives of nearly three million Palestinians in the West Bank, the Israeli military cannot abide unarmed resistance like that favored by the Tamimi family. Images of armed and well-armored Israeli soldiers struggling against kids and mothers reveal the fundamental imbalance of power in Palestinian lands. This imbalance plays badly in the media (“We don't do Gandhi very well," an Israeli military leader once told U.S. government officials), and historic success of Palestinian resistance like the First Intifada were built on waves of unarmed resistance like that pursued by the Tamimi family.
To batten down such resistance, the Israeli military courts often hand over months- or years-long sentences that are meant to send a message; in her case, Ahed reportedly faced a three-year sentence before her the plea deal. Her lawyer Gaby Lasky said on Wednesday that the military court, which convicts nearly all Palestinians tried before it, was simply “trying to deter other Palestinian youth from resisting occupation as Ahed did.”
Meanwhile Israelis convicted of far worse crimes in the same land, by the same military legal system, tend to get off much easier. Earlier in the week before the Tamimi plea deal was announced, the Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, filmed executing a wounded Palestinian terrorist who was restrained on the ground, was granted an early release by the military parole board. Azaria is set to be released in May, after serving 9 months of an 18 month sentence.
Noah Kulwin is a reporter based in New York City. He most recently served as the technology editor of VICE News.