“They come for our woman and our children,” Bassem Tamimi, the leader of the Popular Committee of Nabi Saleh recently told me, “they [the Israeli army] know that woman are half our population and half our strength and so they target them along with the children.” Tamimi, a gentle man with a warm smile spoke to me about the repression of his village as we sat in his home overlooking the settlement of Halamish. “They know where to apply pressure on our resistance. It has become really difficult since the last wave of arrests.”Recently, videos showing the military in action were released (The links to the videos are at the end of this article).
Israel is devoting maximum effort to the repression of Nabi Saleh’s determination to demonstrate against the Occupation. The specific method of repression has been in development for the past eight years and is not only designed to break the demonstrations but to leave permanent psychological scars on the next generation of Nabi Saleh villagers. In short, children are used to implicate the leaders of the Popular Committee for incitement in demonstrations, providing evidence for their long term incarceration. In the last month, six children have been arrested or detained in Nabi Saleh by the army.
The first video shows the army invading the village at 03h00, waking everyone up and going from house to house photographing children and recording their ID information. The photographs are compiled and used by soldiers in demonstrations to systematically target and arrest the children. Once arrested, children are given a brief interrogation at an undisclosed military base and then returned to the village.
Based on the initial investigation, the General Security Service (Shabak in Hebrew) determines which child is the most susceptible to psychological torture and will most likely implicate the leadership of the popular committee This unlucky boy is then rearrested, charged with stone throwing (evidence other than confession is usually not provided to back up this charge) and subjected to a much longer interrogation without lawyer or parents present. After two or three children go through this punishment, the army raids the home of the popular committee leaders and they are then imprisoned for between one and three years on charges of incitement. This is what happened to Bil’in’s Abdallah Abu Rahmha, whom the European Union has labeled a human rights defender. He was given a sentence of 16 months for charges of incitement based on the coerced testimony of four children from Bil’in.
14 year old Islam Tamimi, one of the children seen being photographed in a night raid, has been in jail for the past three weeks. Days after the video was shot he was arrested and detained for a number of hours at the Halamish military base. Two days after he was detained, the army raided his home at 02h00 and arrested him. He was left in the cold, blindfolded and bound for the rest of the night and then taken imminently to interrogation without lawyer or parents present. The interrogation lasted eight hours. Incidentally, the day that Tamimi was arrested the IDF Spokespersons office tweeted that ‘a wanted suspect was arrested overnight and taken for security questioning.’ Tamimi is awaiting a trial set to begin on the 14th of February. Israel deiced that he was too dangerous to be released on bail and remains in jail until the hearing.
The language in these videos is short and simple. The scene is eerie in its simplicity. Soldiers enter in the middle of the night, wake everyone up and coldly go about their business. Names are written down along with the ID information. The children are asked to stand for a photograph and the soldiers leave. What you are watching in these videos is a small but crucial component of , in the words of Jonathan Cook, Israel’s ongoing project of human despair.
The second video from Nabi Saleh, shot a couple of days after the night raids. It was taken on a Tuesday morning after Israeli authorities had completed another house raid. As the army and police were leaving, one police van stops and two border police officers jump out. 11-year-old Kareem Tamimi comes running into the frame, running towards his mother. The camerawoman begins shouting “Child! Child!” in Hebrew to the border police officers to no avail.
The border police officers capture the child, handling him as if he was a fully grown adult. Within seconds he is in the police van and on the way out of the village toward an undisclosed location. His mother’s cries as she slams her hands against the windows of police van are disregarded by the border police officers.
Kareem’s arrest was part of a strategy to apply as much pressure as possible on his 14-year-old brother Islam, who was arrested the previous day in a night raid, in order that Islam will deliver any script that his investigators wanted. The strategy worked, and Kareem was released later the same evening.
After this arrest happened, the army spokespersons unit alerted the media and twitter followers that another ‘wanted suspect’ was taken in for security questioning. They failed to mention that he was an 11-year-old child.