Iconic young activist Ahed Tamimi told RT she will continue to fight for the Palestinian cause, despite the hardships she faced in an Israeli military prison. Tamimi said she would risk going to jail again for her country.
The teenager, who has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance and was even called the Palestinian Joan of Arc, was released from prison on Sunday after serving eight months for confronting IDF soldiers.
“I hope nobody ever goes through what I went through. But I’m glad I ended up there for my beliefs,” the 17-year-old activist told RT Arabic. “And I’m ready to go to prison a hundred more times if it serves the good of my country.”
Tamimi comes from a family of Palestinian freedom campaigners, and was involved in altercations with the IDF in the past. In December, she was filmed pushing, kicking, and slapping two armed IDF soldiers who raided her home village, Nabi Saleh in the West Bank. Her mother, Nariman, and 20-year-old cousin, Nour, were also involved in the confrontation. All three women were subsequently arrested. A video of the incident went viral, solidifying Ahed as a symbol of Palestinian resistance.
“I knew they could arrest me. It’s a common practice when your people live under Israeli oppression,” Tamimi said, speaking about the incident which later got her jailed.
The video shows that both soldiers remain largely calm during the altercation and do not try to fight Ahed and her relatives. She claims that the soldier she slapped was the one who earlier shot her 14-year-old cousin Mohammad in the face with a rubber bullet at close range. The boy was later placed in an induced coma and had part of his skull removed.
“It was the soldier who shot [Mohammed] when he was already wounded in the face and nearly died because of it,” she said. “This was the same soldier who fired at teenagers near where I live.”
An Israeli military court found the teenager guilty of assault and incitement of violence. Her arrest and imprisonment were condemned by numerous human rights organizations, and the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestine called for her release.
The IDF and right-wing Israeli politicians welcomed the prison sentence. “Whoever goes wild during the day, will be arrested at night,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said of Tamimi’s trial, adding that Ahed and her relatives “will not escape from what they deserve.”
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett from the Jewish Home party even stated that the Tamimis “should finish their lives in prison.”
Ahed Tamimi told RT that sometimes the hardships she faced in prison were “too much to handle.”
“But the death of my cousin hit me the hardest while I was in jail,” she said, referring to her 17-year-old cousin, Musab, who was shot by Israeli troops in January. “The prison administration tried to shut down the classes we were attending – that was a low blow, too. But we pulled through, we managed. These unfortunate events united us.”
Tamimi remains a divisive figure. Many in Palestine consider her a national hero, while critics claim she is a striking example of parents dragging children into dangerous activism for propaganda purposes.
Nevertheless, Tamimi remains committed to the Palestinian cause, and plans to become a lawyer one day. Her mission in life is to “stand up for my country,” she said.