The violation of a child’s rights: Ahed Al-Tammimi
01-Feb-2018


A child under 18 years old, Ahed Al-Tammimi is a quintessential Palestinian girl, with blonde hair, blue eyes and a soul full of resistance to the occupation. As she stands with her hands and feet cuffed in a courtroom, confronted by judges, police officers and intruders on her land, the scene encapsulates over half a century of violation, abuse and injustice in the longest-running weeping sore in global affairs. 

On December 19, Ahed was arrested by the Israeli occupation forces for slapping two heavily armed Israeli soldiers as they refused to leave the courtyard of her family home in the village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, in the portion of the West Bank illegally occupied by Israel. This wasn’t Ahed’s first encounter with the occupation forces, and indeed, she was an icon of the Palestinian resistance in her village, participating in weekly marches and showing no fear since her earliest years of childhood. At age 12, she witnessed the murder of her great-uncle, and the following year, her own uncle was slaughtered by the Israeli Defense Forces. 

Today, Ahed is moving into the third month of her incarceration, facing 12 accusations. The news and videos of Ahed have gone viral in the media, and her case has become a high-profile embarrassment for the Israelis, but she is not alone in her plight. About 300 Palestinian children, 40 of whom were shot and wounded by the occupying forces, have been arrested and are being held in Israeli dungeons, but they are under a media blackout. Any other country perpetrating such barbarism would be met with calls for invasion and regime change, but Israel has been free to attack children with impunity and the tacit approval of the international community. 

Obviously, the cases of Ahed and all the other Palestinian children being held in Israeli jails represent, in and of themselves, violations of children’s rights; the treatment of these children is also objectionable on all conceivable human rights grounds given their attack and abduction from illegally occupied territories. Most of the international community supports all of Israel’s actions, and the current US administration has given the green light to the increasingly erratic and hysterical Israeli regime. Some voices have been raised in favour of these violations of the rights of Palestinian children; for instance, the Israeli Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, told a radio station that Ahed and the two other women involved in the case ‘should finish their lives in prison’. However, one of the Israeli human rights organisations and some influential citizens are embarrassed by the current impasse. Perhaps it is time to consider calling out Israel on its violations of children’s rights and to extend human status to Palestinians by upholding and applying universal human rights. Several high-profile lawyers from Egypt and across the world have offered their services to represent the women at the centre of this case that has gripped Palestine. These welcome efforts and the public pressure must remain vigilant, no matter how long the case takes, to curb Israel’s continued oppression of children. 

Without children’s rights, there can be neither peace nor a decent standard of justice for anyone. Standing up for children’s rights is standing up for humanity.


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