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Ahed Tamimi was sexually harassed by Israeli interrogator, says lawyer

Lawyer files complaint, after footage showed interrogator telling Palestinian teen she had 'eyes like an angel'
Israeli lawyer Gaby Lasky speaks with Ahed Tamimi, her client, in the military court at Ofer prison, 1 January (AFP)
Par MEE staff

The lawyer of imprisoned Ahed al-Tamimi has accused an Israeli interrogator of sexually harassing the 17-year-old Palestinian girl, who was arrested last December from her village in the occupied West Bank for slapping an Israeli soldier on camera.

Gaby Lasky filed a complaint with the Israeli general attorney on Monday, saying that one of the interrogators had questioned Tamimi in an inappropriate manner, especially given her status as a female minor, and included remarks about her looks.

Lasky described the behaviour of the interrogator, who is an officer in the military intelligence unit Aman, as a "gross violation of the law" amounting to sexual harassment. 

This proves that the [Israeli] law enforcement system infringes upon the rights of Palestinian minors

Gaby Lasky, Ahed al-Tamimi's lawyer

Lasky complained twice to the attorney general, but no investigation was opened into the interrogator's behaviour by Israeli military intelligence at the time.

An Israeli army spokesman told Hebrew news site Ynet on Wednesday that it had opened an investigation into the matter. 

Lasky has denounced the fact that, in spite of her age, Tamimi was interrogated simultaneously by two men without the presence of a female officer in the room or an interrogator specialised in questioning minors.

While Israeli forces are mandated to have a female officer during the interrogation of women, former Palestinian prisoners have told Middle East Eye that women officers were not always present, and in fact often served as cover for verbal and physical abuse taking place during interrogations.

Tamimi was 16 when she was arrested for slapping an Israeli soldier who would not leave her family's property in her hometown of Nabi Saleh, on the same day as Israeli forces shot her 15-year-old cousin Mohammed Tamimi in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet.  

Lasky added that the interrogator in question threatened to arrest Tamimi's relatives and interrogate them too, if she continued to remain silent during questioning.

"This proves that the [Israeli] law enforcement system infringes upon the rights of Palestinian minors," the complaint concluded.

Interrogation footage leaked

Video footage of Tamimi's interrogation was leaked on Sunday to the Daily Beast, reportedly showing the teenager enduring two hours of questioning on 26 December.

According to the Daily Beast, the then 16-year-old asserted her right to remain silent as two male interrogators attempted a range of tactics to get her to talk.

"You have eyes like an angel," one interrogator told Tamimi in Arabic and he made "creepy attempts at flirting" as well as threats against her family.

The video was of her third interrogation and she appears handcuffed and sitting at a desk in a police office, according to the Daily Beast.

Palestinian women haunted by abuse in Israeli jails

Tamimi is currently serving an eight-month sentence in Ofer military prison after reaching a plea deal with Israeli prosecutors in March.

Tamimi told reporters last month before the court accepted the plea bargain agreement that "there is no justice under occupation and this is an illegitimate court".

She will serve only two months less in prison than Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier who shot and killed a disarmed and incapacitated Palestinian attacker in Hebron as he lay motionless on the ground.

Tamimi's arrest in December came after a video went viral on Israeli social media, showing her slapping, kicking and hitting two armed Israeli soldiers.

Tamimi's mother, Nariman, was also detained and sentenced to eight months in prison for filming and sharing the aforementioned video.

Her trial gained international media coverage and human right groups, including Amnesty International, have campaigned for her to be released.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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