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In the Israeli media, a soldier trying to arrest a minor is the victim

After viral video emerged of a soldier attempting to arrest a Palestinian boy, the Israeli press presents the official army version rather than the accounts of the villagers who saw it all happen.

By Leehee Rothschild

At the weekly demonstration at the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh last Friday a masked soldier tried to arrest 12-year-old Mohammad Tamimi. Mohammad’s arm had been broken and in a cast since the beginning of that week, when soldiers entered the village in a separate incident.

His sister, Ahed, his mother, Nariman, and another Palestinian woman eventually prevented the event. His sister and his mother, though, were beaten by soldiers and sent to the hospital.

Quoted extensively in the Israeli press, the army’s version claimed that the soldiers were not aware that Mohammad was a minor. It is something that would have been very difficult to miss, given that he is a pretty small boy.  And I wonder how close a soldier would have to be to notice that the boy was in fact a child, and if he still wasn’t able to notice it when he had him in a headlock between his arms. I also doubt that realizing that the boy was a minor would have prevented the soldier from arresting him. The army has arrested Palestinian children before.

The report in the Israeli daily Haaretz starts with the army’s version and only afterwards describes, briefly, the events as seen by the village residents. That version is told by the activist Yonatan Pollack, but the reporter then returns to the army spokesperson.

The reporter does not mention that those involved were members of the same family, or that Mohammad was already injured, or that Ahed and Nariman were hospitalized after being hit by the soldiers. If the Haaretz writer had made just the slightest journalist efforts, she could have easily discovered these details.

An Israeli soldier holding Mohammed Tamimi, 12, in a headlock during a demonstration in Nabi Saleh, August 28, 2015. (Karam Saleem)

An Israeli soldier holding Mohammed Tamimi, 12, in a headlock during a demonstration in Nabi Saleh, August 28, 2015. (Karam Saleem)

The reporter from the popular news site, Ynet, inserts Israeli army statements alongside a number of paragraphs quoted from an article in the British Daily Mail on the events. They report that the Daily Mail’s coverage is biased against Israel, despite the fact that they heavily rely on it. The article’s headline, “A girl bites a solder: a violent demonstration in Judea and Samaria,” paints a picture in which the village residents are those who cause the violence while the soldiers are the victims of it. They describe the demonstration as violent and present as fact the army’s claim that Mohammad was throwing rocks just before the soldiers attempted to arrest him, despite the fact that this is actually disputed, and denied by the villagers.

They describe Ahed as winning fame for screaming at the soldier and attempt to portray her as violent and dangerous. Indeed, a girl standing and screaming in the face of an armed soldier is a recognized threat.

Ynet’s inability to see the Palestinians villagers through human eyes is also apparent in that they confuse Ahed’s name with “Bilal,” another participant at the Nabi Saleh demonstration. He filmed the viral video, but is an adult man, not a young girl.

The circumstances of the demonstration and clashes were mentioned nowhere in this reporting, nor was there any critique of the consistent violence toward the villagers.

The Haaretz report portrays just another Friday in the West Bank through the frame of the Israeli army spokesman. Ynet communicates to the Israeli public that “we are the victims and everyone else is anti-Semitic.” The important question they deal with is how the world will look see us, rather than the reasons as to why a soldier was trying to violently arrest a 12-year-old boy.

Leehee Rothschild is a political-feminist activist and an MA student in gender studies at Ben Gurion University. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. bar

      Here’s how the game is manipulated in this village:

      So, essentially, they do this weekly, benefit from the economic advantages having all these reporters come out to the village bless on them, and continually try to get images or videos that go viral. Every once in a while they succeed – and we’re all supposed to learn lessons about the occupation from this.

      If only Israel had a partner on the other side who wanted peace instead of the destruction of Israel, then we wouldn’t have these situations. I’d rather see this every day than have wars like Hamas launches from Gaza every couple of years. Anybody who cares about people would.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        And lessons we do learn. Bar is upset that the Palestinians have the brains and the temerity to use modern media smartly. Only the IDF and settler organization hasbara units are supposed to do that. It’s so unfair. So when the Palestinians simply record actual events its somehow “pallywood” but when the settlers do it its not “samariawood.” Cameras don’t lie, Bar. Which is why the article you link to falls flat and is unconvincing despite the author’s best efforts to spin.
        “If only….” So much of the deceptions of the Israeli occupation are contained in those words.

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          “Palestinians have the brains”

          Yep Benny, they sure do. They have been fighting 100 years of war against us and look what it got them?

          Now here is a bit of reality check for you Benny. The day they will sign a peace deal with us which they would actually end up respecting, that’s the day I will agree with you that they would acquire brains, not before.

          Know why, Benny? Because a real peace deal would be good for your Palestinian Arabs too.

          Reply to Comment
    2. Ben

      – A perfect picture of the occupation


      The video clearly shows, once again, the truth about a great deal of the IDF’s operational activities: chasing children. And an army that fights children and chases them as they flee is an army that has lost its conscience.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Typical Benny and his ilk…

        They focus in on events which vilify one side while ignoring the context in which those events occur.


        – 100 years of
        Palestinian terrorismagainst Israeli civilians including indiscriminate massacres of women and children.

        – stone throwing incidents which led to deaths of Israeli civilians.

        – the refusal of Palestinian Arabs to compromise and sign a peace deal with Israel.

        – constant psychological warfare against Israel which the Benny’s of this world aid and abet. Nay … they conduct on behalf of their chosen clients: the saint Palestinians.

        Reply to Comment