Israeli police rejoice after arresting two Italians and a Palestinian who painted a giant mural of Ahed Tamimi on the separation wall in Bethlehem.
Two Italian citizens and one Palestinian were arrested by Israeli Border Police officers on Saturday after graffitiing a portrait of Ahed Tamimi, who was released from prison the following day, on part of the West Bank separation barrier in Bethlehem.
Tamimi served eight months behind bars for slapping an Israeli soldier.
Following the arrest, the Israel Police Spokesperson announced that the “Border Police views every attempt to harm or vandalize the wall with great severity, whether by drawing on it or causing physical damage. We will act to the extent necessary to arrest the offenders and bring them to justice.”
The statement included a photo of two of the artists arrested:
The section of the separation wall chosen by the artists, located on the edge of Bethlehem near Rachel’s Tomb, is one of the most popular with graffiti artists and tourists alike. This is the same section that Banksy chose for his first few drawings; years later he would open the Walled Off Hotel in the same area.
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But when it comes to painting the face of a young Palestinian woman who offended the sensibilities of the occupation when she slapped an armed soldier in her family home shortly after her cousin was shot in the head by the IDF. As if it wasn’t enough to imprison her for eight months, now Border Police officers are being sent to chase down artists whose only crime is daring to paint her portrait on a cement wall.
Suffice it to say that the decision to arrest the three was politically motivated. After all, just a few meters from Ahed’s portrait is a giant mural of President Donald Trump, which no one was arrested for.
The police’s jubilation at capturing the dangerous graffiti artists is reminiscent of the days of the First Intifada, during which soldiers were sent to paint over graffiti of Palestinian flags, climbed up electricity polls to confiscate flags, and in many cases to force Palestinians themselves to get rid of their national flags.