Ahed Tamimi. Photo Credit: AFP.

16-year-old Ahed Tamimi has been charged with assault after a video of her confronting Israeli soldiers went viral. The Palestinian teenager and her cousin were filmed in an encounter with the soldiers and the video then was widely circulated by Palestinians on social media. Filmed on December 15, the video shows Tamimi in a group of women who are shouting, hitting and kicking two heavily armed Israeli soldiers during protests in the occupied West Bank. Charges against the girl include aggravated assault and throwing stones.

On December 31, 2017, Tamimi’s cousin, Nour Tamimi, was charged with assault as well, and Tamimi’s mother, who filmed the video, has also been charged. The BBC reports Tamimi’s 14-year-old cousin, Mohammed, had been hit in the face with a rubber bullet fired by Israeli soldiers in recent weeks during a protest against the recent U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Israeli military has said that “several Palestinians entered a nearby home and continued throwing rocks at soldiers from inside the home with its occupants’ consent, so forces removed the rioters from the home and remained standing in the entrance in order to prevent further entry. Later, several Palestinian women came out to face the soldiers in order to incite provocation.”

Amnesty International published a piece yesterday calling for the release of the 16-year-old. She faces up to 10 years in prison over the altercation, and appeared in front of a military court yesterday. According to the aid group, the Israeli army prosecutes hundreds of Palestinian children every year, subjecting them to blindfolding and harsh interrogations without the presence of their lawyers or families. According to local human rights organizations, there are nearly 350 Palestinian children in Israeli custody.

“Nothing that Ahed Tamimi has done can justify the continuing detention of a 16-year-old girl. The Israeli authorities must release her without delay. In capturing an unarmed teenage girl’s assault on two armed soldiers wearing protective gear, the footage of this incident shows that she posed no actual threat and that her punishment is blatantly disproportionate,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

Amnesty International reports that under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the detention or imprisonment of a child must only be used as a last resort, and for the shortest appropriate amount of time. Israel is theoretically bound by that Convention.

What strikes me the most about this story and about this one girl is…why her? Out of the other 350 Palestinian children detained by Israel, and the millions of girls around the world dealing with similar situations and hardships, why is the media gravitating toward Ahed? In my opinion, it’s because Ahed is blonde and light-skinned and dresses like a typical teenager. Would half as much outcry be happening if Ahed had dark skin? People tend to advocate for the people that mirror themselves and we as a society need to do a better job of advocating for the voiceless. Don’t get me wrong, I think the international community should be advocating for Ahed’s release, but also focusing on ways to free millions of other children around the world from detention and captivity.

We at Girl Museum will continue to advocate for girls worldwide and look forward to a future in which no girl will slip through the cracks.

-Sage Daugherty
Associate Editor
Girl Museum Inc.

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