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

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.


UN agency for Palestinian refugees on tenterhooks over probe

A Palestinian refugee holds a placard at a school belonging to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in the town of Sebline east of the southern Lebanese port of Saida, on March 12, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2019

UN agency for Palestinian refugees on tenterhooks over probe

  • UNRWA’s budget for this year is $1.2 billion, with around 90 percent of that being linked to paying for the 30,000 staff it employees, most of them teachers, doctors and nurses

BRUSSELS: The UN agency for Palestinian refugees is waiting anxiously on the outcome this month of a probe into alleged mismanagement that has dented its already severely depleted funding, one of its top officials said Monday.
The UN Relief and Works Agency hopes the results of the investigation will enable it to get past the scandal that has worsened a cash crunch threatening the school and health services it provides to 5 million Palestinians.
UNRWA’s director for West Bank operations Gwyn Lewis told AFP in Brussels: “We’re waiting with bated breath because it obviously has financial implications.”
She said the conclusions of the probe are expected to be delivered “around the end of October” to UN chief Antonio Guterres, who would then issue public and internal “follow-up steps.”
The timing is crucial as the agency’s three-year mandate is up for renewal this month, and money is tight.
UNRWA has been skating on very thin financial ice since last year, after US President Donald Trump decided to suspend, then yank entirely his country’s contribution to the agency’s budget, robbing it of its top donor.
Those woes were compounded by the allegations of abuse by the agency’s management, leading other key donors — the Netherlands and Switzerland — to snap shut their purses.
That has left the agency struggling to provide the schooling, medical and sanitary programs it runs for Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.
According to a copy of an internal UN report obtained by AFP in July, senior management at UNRWA engaged in “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain.”

FASTFACT

The UN Relief and Works Agency hopes the results of the investigation will enable it to get past the scandal that has worsened a cash crunch threatening the school and health services it provides to 5 million Palestinians.

Lewis did not confirm those allegations, noting only “rumors” and leaks to the media.
“None of us have actually seen it,” she said of the report, adding: “Our sense is that it’s not about financial misappropriation or corruption, it’s linked to management and human resources issues.”
She did note that the agency’s deputy chief, Sandra Mitchell, had been replaced in August by an acting deputy commissioner-general tasked with strengthening human resources and financial oversight.
Lewis said she was in Brussels for two days of meetings with European Commission officials to shore up UNRWA’s mandate renewal and, importantly, to maintain funding.
Despite program cutbacks, the agency faces an $89 million shortfall for the rest of this year, she said, and “financial uncertainty” beyond that.
UNRWA’s budget for this year is $1.2 billion, with around 90 percent of that being linked to paying for the 30,000 staff it employees, most of them teachers, doctors and nurses. Making up for the pulled US funding was a “challenge,” she said.