Palestinian teen in ‘slap video’ back at center of propaganda war

Palestinian Ahed Tamimi wearing a dress made of the traditional Palestinian cloth during a protest against the expropriation of Palestinian land to expand the Jewish settlement of Halmish in the occupied West Bank in this Aug. 6, 2010 photo. (AFP)
Updated 28 December 2017
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Palestinian teen in ‘slap video’ back at center of propaganda war

JERUSALEM: Ahed Tamimi is only a teenager, but has repeatedly been at the center of the seemingly endless propaganda war between Israelis and Palestinians, with a video of her slapping soldiers the latest example.
Tamimi, 16 and recognizable by her shock of blonde hair, has been held up by Palestinians and other supporters as a brave opponent of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
A years-old photograph of her raising her fist at a soldier was widely published and led to her being received by then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2012.
She was also photographed while wearing a Tweety Bird shirt and biting the hand of an Israeli soldier in 2015 to try to stop the arrest of a brother.
But for Israeli officials, she is being made to star in staged provocations by her family, prominent activists who have been at the forefront of protests in their village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah.
The latest incident led to her arrest on Dec. 19 along with that of her mother and cousin. She has been detained since and is due to appear in military court again later Thursday.
The three appeared in a video that went viral after it was recorded on Dec. 15 in Nabi Saleh.
It showed Tamimi and her cousin approaching two Israeli soldiers before shoving, kicking and slapping them.
The heavily armed soldiers do not respond in the face of what appears to be an attempt to provoke rather than seriously harm them.
They then move backward after Tamimi’s mother Nariman becomes involved.
Tamimi’s father argues that her blonde hair and Western dress have contributed to the attention she has received.
“If she was veiled and dark-skinned, would she have got the same attention?” Bassem Tamimi told AFP.
“The Zionist propaganda machine always depicts the Palestinian as dark-skinned and ugly, attacking the blonde victim, but now she is blonde.”
Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the US and currently a deputy minister for diplomacy, accused the Tamimis of using children as pawns, however.
“The Tamimi family — which may not be a real family — dresses up kids in American clothes and pays them to provoke (Israeli) troops on camera,” he wrote on Twitter.
“This cynical and cruel use of children constitutes abuse. Human rights organizations must investigate!”
Since her arrest early on Dec. 19, responses from either side could not be further apart.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called her father and commended the family’s resistance against Israel’s occupation, official news agency WAFA reported.
Supporters have accused Israeli authorities of arresting a teenager who was only standing up for the rights of her fellow Palestinians.
The incident occurred during a day of clashes across the West Bank against US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Violence since Trump’s decision has left 12 Palestinians dead, with most killed in clashes with Israeli forces.
The Tamimi family says a relative was shot in the head with a rubber bullet during protests on Dec. 15.
Israelis were divided over the viral video, with some praising the soldiers’ restraint and others saying it showed weakness and merited a tougher response.
Bassem Tamimi describes his daughter as “shy,” but “someone who is mature enough to reject the occupation responsibly.”
She had in the past wanted to become a professional football player, but has since decided to study law to defend her family and village against an Israeli occupation that has lasted more than 50 years, he said.
Regarding criticism of his family, Bassem Tamimi said “we don’t have to respond or defend ourselves,” calling it an attempt to distract from their cause.
But he said he fears his daughter will be imprisoned over the latest incident, particularly because it has become “a case of public opinion” in Israel.


Israel cuts Gaza fishing limit after fire balloons

Updated 46 min 54 sec ago
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Israel cuts Gaza fishing limit after fire balloons

  • Israel reduced the fishing limit to 10 nautical miles
  • The countries agreed to 20 nautical miles in the Oslo accords of 1990s

JERUSALEM: Israel reduced the offshore fishing limits it imposes for vessels operating out of Gaza from Thursday after Palestinians floated balloons fitted with incendiaries over the border, officials said.
The cut came just two days after Israel restored the limits to those set in April ahead of an Israeli general election.
“A decision was taken this Wednesday evening to reduce the fishing zone off the Gaza Strip to 10 nautical miles until further notice,” said COGAT, the defense ministry unit that oversees such regulations.
“The decision was taken after the launch of incendiary balloons from Gaza toward Israel,” it added.
Palestinians in Gaza have frequently floated balloons fitted with firebombs over the border to damage Israeli property and have in the past succeeded in setting fire to large areas of farmland.
Israel banned fishing completely when two days of deadly violence erupted earlier this month, but lifted the ban with a restriction of up to 12 nautical miles following a truce.
The 15-nautical-mile limit that had been restored on Tuesday was the largest allowed in years by Israel, which has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in the enclave and has blockaded it for more than a decade.
But human rights activists note that it still falls short of the 20 nautical miles agreed under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.
Israeli authorities have not said whether the 15-mile limit was one of the understandings reached as part of the May 6 cease-fire in Gaza but Israel media reported on Monday that it was.
The additional nautical miles are important to Gaza fishermen as they bring more valuable, deeper water species within reach.
Four Israeli civilians and 25 Palestinians, including at least nine militants, were killed in this month’s exchanges across the border.