An unconscionable liberal silence over Ahed Tamimi

WHAT justification could be advanced for putting a teenage girl in leg irons for a court appearance and holding her in a foreign jail for over a week without charge?

What justification could Britain’s liberal media have for failing to highlight such a scandal, while the girl in question is subjected to threats of rape and murder in jail?

The answer is that 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi is a Palestinian living in the occupied West Bank whose village’s farmland and water resources have been appropriated by Israeli forces.

Nabi Saleh, about 20 miles north of Jerusalem, has a population of 600 people. Its land was snatched 40 years ago for the Halamish settlement.

Halamish periodically unleashes its heavily armed residents to set fire to the olive groves of Nabi Saleh, prompting protests that are met with state repression.

Ahed comes from a family that has never bowed the knee to the occupiers and has paid the price for this defiance.

She came to prominence in 2015 when she, her mother and her aunt were pictured struggling to release her 11-year-old brother Mohammad from arrest.

Her father Bassem Tamimi has been jailed several times and was named an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience in 2012. Her mother Nariman Tamimi has been detained five times and her brother Waed Tamimi is currently serving 10 months in an Israeli jail.

Their home has been raided over 150 times by occupation forces and, in 2010, the military authorities imposed a demolition order, which hangs like the sword of Damocles over the Tamimi family.

This followed protests sparked by the settlers’ confiscation of Nabi Saleh’s spring, reducing running water availability in the village to 12 hours a day while Halamish residents have an unrestricted supply and a large swimming pool in the settlement.

Israeli soldiers enter the village on a daily basis, squirting vile-smelling “skunk spray” over houses, especially on rooftop water tanks, seeking to make life and continued residence intolerable.

“It’s a silent ethnic cleansing,” Bassem Tamimi told al-Jazeera journalist Jaclynn Ashly in September.

His daughter was arrested after a video of her telling Israeli soldiers to leave her home and slapping one of them went viral and, for good measure, her mother and cousin Nour Tamimi were detained too. All are now held in Israel’s HaSharon prison.

Israel’s media has gone overboard, praising the troops for their forbearance in not retaliating physically while providing a platform for politicians to demand life in jail for Ahed.

The Israeli military had, as so often, got its retaliation in first, firing a rubber bullet at point-blank range into the face of Ahed’s cousin Mohammad Fadel Tamimi, aged 15, leaving him in a coma and spurring her anger against the troops.

While rabid social media warriors demand that Ahed, Nariman and Nour be raped or killed in jail, Maariv columnist Ben Caspit was less specific but more chilling because of his national profile.

He pontificated that, “in the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras.”

Caspit then claimed unconvincingly that he had simply suggested that they be arrested quietly at night.

Whatever his weasel words, three incarcerated women are demonised at all levels of Israeli society and face imminent physical danger.

The world that has done nothing to end Israel’s illegal occupation must at least demand that Ahed, Nariman and Nour be released immediately and allowed to return home.

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