‘The bad thing is that I’m 17 and I can’t live my age’
After hearing that the Israeli military had shot, and possibly killed, her younger cousin, Ahed was filmed pushing and slapping two Israeli soldiers who entered her home. The video went viral. Four days later, Israeli soldiers arrested her at home in the middle of the night, and she was later sentenced to eight months in prison and given an additional suspended sentence. To Ahed’s knowledge, the soldier reported to have shot Mohammad has not yet been tried in court or received disciplinary action.
Now released from prison, Ahed describes being subjected to torture and ill-treatment by the Israeli authorities:
‘They used psychological pressure, they didn’t let me sleep. I didn’t have a lawyer with me. They screamed at me, they warned me about my family, and I was told that if I didn’t confess, they would arrest my brothers’
‘Every year, hundreds of Palestinian minors undergo the same scenario. Israeli security forces pick them up on the street or at home in the middle of the night, then handcuff and blindfold them and transport them to interrogation, often subjecting them to violence en route. Exhausted and scared – some having spent a long time in transit, some having been roused from sleep, some having had nothing to eat or drink for hours – the minors are then interrogated. They are completely alone in there, cut off from the world, without any adult they know and trust by their side, and without having been given a chance to consult with a lawyer before the interrogation. The interrogation itself often involves threats, yelling, verbal abuse and sometimes physical violence. Its sole purpose is to get the minors to confess or provide information about other.’
When asked how she is now, Ahed says ‘I don’t know whether I am feeling good or bad, but I think I feel good because I send my message’. Since her arrest, some media outlets have presented Ahed as a symbol of Palestinian resistance, which she describes as ‘a big responsibility’. She adds ‘The bad thing is that I’m 17 and I can’t live my age.’
On the 17th October 2019, one student on his way to school was temporarily detained by soldiers but released after teachers intervened. Everyday, between eight and 12 soldiers armed with M16s arrive at 7:30am. Locals have observed that their role is not to protect students from settlers’ aggression but is instead to protect the settlers who drive on Route 60 from students walking to and from school.