Israel arrests child with one-third of his skull missing, then lies about it

Israel arrests child with one-third of his skull missing, then lies about it

Mohammed Tamimi, 15. Muhammad Fadel Tamimi, 15, was detained in a night raid in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, 26 February. In December he was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier and is awaiting surgery to reattach one third of his skull. Oren Ziv ActiveStills – Electronic Intifada

The Israeli military abducted a boy they had shot in the face in December and who requires still more surgery. While they had the injured and traumatized boy in their custody, Israeli soldiers then coerced him into agreeing that he had simply “fallen off his bike.” Analysts throughout the world, including inside Israel, have written about Israel’s grotesque behavior and absurd claims.

Below are three articles that give the details, two from the Electronic Intifada and one from the Washington Post.

Israel arrests child with one-third of his skull missing

By Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada (For additional images and videos go to EI)

Israeli occupation forces raided the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh in the predawn hours of Monday in the latest episode of Israel’s premeditated revenge campaign against the Tamimi family.

They detained Muhammad Fadel Tamimi, the 15-year-old boy shot in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet at close range and seriously injured by Israeli forces in December.

Bassem Tamimi, the father of detained teenager Ahed Tamimi, wrote on FacebookMonday morning that a large force of Israeli soldiers armed with weaponized bulldozers and skunk water raided homes in the village during the night and detained 10 people.

Six of those arrested were children, the youngest aged 14, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society. They included Muhammad’s 17-year-old brother Tamim.

Bassem said that Muhammad Fadel Tamimi’s detention put the child’s life at risk.

Since the boy was shot, one third of his skull has been removed and he is awaiting major restorative surgery to put it back in.

The Israeli army confirmed that Muhammad Fadel Tamimi was arrested and released after being interrogated. “His arrest was approved by a military physician,” the army said, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

The others had not been released, a Tamimi family member told The Electronic Intifada.

The online publication Quds posted this video of Israeli soldiers carrying assault rifles arresting brothers Islam Saleh Tamimi, 21, and Omar Saleh Tamimi, 29, from their home. [See video here]

Quds posted this video of Israeli forces raiding the village. [See video here]

Facebook apparently restricted the account of extended family member Manal Tamimi as she was livestreaming the Israeli raid.

This may be another example of the social media behemoth’s extensive collusion with Israel and its military occupation.

Shot in the head

Muhammad recounts how he was shot by an Israeli soldier, in this video posted by Haaretz two weeks after the 15 December incident:

Muhammad says he had been out with other people during protests against Israel’s theft of the village’s land for settlement construction.

He says that he stood up on a wall near where the protests had taken place. “I didn’t know the army was there, I didn’t see a single soldier,” Muhammad states. “And then he [the soldier] shot me and I lost consciousness.”

Defense for Children International-Palestine reported, citing an eyewitness, that Israeli forces shot Tamimi “shortly after clashes had ended” in Nabi Saleh.

According to the eyewitness, the group stated, “Israeli forces appeared to have exited the area around 4 pm when an Israeli soldier shot Muhammad in the face with a rubber-coated metal bullet at close range.”

Following difficult, life-saving surgeries, Muhammad says he is now restricted to his home for six months because of the missing part of his skull.


It was immediately after Muhammad’s shooting that his cousins Ahed and Nour were filmed slapping and shoving two heavily armed Israeli soldiers in an effort to remove them from the family’s property.

Bassem Tamimi has alleged that one of the soldiers was responsible for shooting Muhammad, but given the systematic impunity Israel affords its personnel there has been no credible investigation.

After video of Ahed confronting the soldiers went viral, Israeli occupation forces detained her, her mother Nariman and her cousin Nour.

They are being subjected to military trials in kangaroo courts with a near-100 percent conviction rate[See video here]

Angered by the supposed humiliation their occupation forces by Palestinian civilians defending their homes, Israeli leaders vowed revenge against the Tamimis, an extended family renowned for its role in Nabi Saleh’s determined nonviolent resistance to Israel’s theft of village land.

Education minister Naftali Bennett told army radio that Ahed and the Tamimi women seen in the video “should finish their lives in prison.”

Defense minister Avigdor Lieberman promised collective punishment, telling Israeli media that “Everyone involved, not only the girl but also her parents and those around them will not escape from what they deserve.”

Family sacrifices

According to Manal Tamimi, three members of the family have been killed by Israeli forces since the nonviolence campaign began in 2009, the latest being Musab Tamimi, a 16-year-old boy shot dead in the West Bank village of Deir Nitham on 3 January.

He was the first Palestinian to be killed by Israeli occupation forces in 2018.

In all, according to Manal, 22 members of the Tamimi family have been killed by Israeli forces since 1976.

Meanwhile, it emerged in January that a senior Israeli official, Michael Oren, sought to investigate the Tamimis, alleging that they were not a real family but rather a group of “blond, blue-eyed and light-skinned” actors hired to “make Israel look bad.”

Oren was born Michael Bornstein in upstate New York, but changed his name and later renounced his American citizenship in order to be appointed Israeli ambassador to the United States.

He participated in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and was later army spokesperson during Israel’s attacks on Lebanon in 2006 and on Gaza in 2008 – assaults that involved massive violence and atrocities against civilians – of the kind Oren makes a habit of denying.


Freedom for Ahed, who has already endured more than two months in Israeli prison, has become an international rallying cry for supporters of the Palestinian liberation struggle.

Ahed, who turned 17 in a prison cell on 31 January, is one more than 300 Palestinian children currently in Israeli military detention.

Earlier this month, Chile’s government urged Ahed’s “prompt release.”

The European Union, which usually remains muted about Israeli human rights abuses, has expressed its “concern” over Ahed’s detention.

Her case has even attracted the attention of celebrities such as American comedian Sarah Silverman, a liberal supporter of Israel, who has faced an intense backlash from anti-Palestinian voices because earlier this month she tweeted Amnesty International’s call for Ahed’s immediate release.

Prominent Black public figures have also called on US lawmakers to endorse a bill that would prohibit US aid to Israel being used for the military detention, torture and abuse of Palestinian children like Ahed, Muhammad and their cousins.

Israel lies that boy shot in head “fell off bike”

By Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada

One of the classic warning signs of abuse is when a child shows a pattern of injuries, but the abuser forces the victim to go along with cover stories claiming the victim simply had a series of unfortunate accidents.

Israel, as a serial and systematic abuser, is once again demonstrating how shameless it is in its attempts to cover up its horrifying mistreatment of Palestinian children and to blame child victims for its own crimes.

On 15 December, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, an Israeli occupation soldier shot Muhammad Fadel Tamimi with a rubber-coated metal bullet at close range, causing devastating head injuries.

Photos of the 15-year-old have circulated around the world showing the effect of having one-third of his skull removed during life-saving surgery. While he awaits restorative surgery he remains very vulnerable, and faces a long recovery.

His case has been all the more embarrassing to Israel because he is the cousin of Ahed Tamimi, the 17-year-old who has been in prison for two months and is being subjected to a military trial in an Israeli kangaroo court for slapping and shoving two heavily armed occupation soldiers shortly after Muhammad was shot.

Both are members of the Tamimi family, against which Israeli leaders have vowed collective punishment and revenge because of their prominent role in the nonviolent resistance campaign to Israel’s theft of Nabi Saleh’s land for colonial settlements.

Night raid

In the predawn hours of Monday, Israeli occupation forces raided Nabi Saleh and arrested 10 people, including six children. One of them was Muhammad Fadel Tamimi.

They took him away for interrogation and released him hours later leaving observers once again stunned at Israel’s callousness and cruelty.

It was obviously a carefully planned operation, as the newspaper Haaretz noted that the detention of the severely injured child “was approved by a military physician.”

Yet all became clear Monday night, when Yoav Mordechai, the general who runs COGAT, the bureaucratic arm of Israel’s military occupation, posted on Facebook what he clearly thought would be the revelation to absolve Israel of its crimes against Muhammad.

And it fit the classic pattern of the serial abuser. According to Mordechai, the boy had not been shot in the head after all, but had merely fallen off his bike.

“What is the truth regarding Muhammad Tamimi?” Mordechai wrote. “Wonder of wonders! Today the boy himself confessed in front of the police and in front of COGAT representatives that in December his skull was injured when he was riding his bicycle and fell off it and hit his head on the handlebars.”

Mordechai followed this up by claiming that the “culture of lies and incitement continues among the children and adults of the Tamimi family.”

His post was accompanied with a graphic with the words “fake news” emblazoned across it in Arabic.

Mordechai, it should be noted, works closely with the Palestinian Authority – collaboration between occupier and occupied that is actively promoted by UN officials.


Human rights defenders and journalists were quick to debunk Mordechai’s outlandish story.

Sarit Michaeli of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem described Mordechai’s claim that the boy merely “fell off his bike” as Orwellian.

What was stunning, she said is “not how big a lie it is” but that “such easily debunked lies show the only target audience is [the] Israeli right.”

Along with this denunciation, Michaeli tweeted copies of a medical report from the hospital that had performed the emergency “bullet removal” surgery from Muhammad Tamimi’s head.

Haaretz noted that “the version of events described by Mordechai does not coincide [with] eyewitness accounts obtained by Haaretz, according to which the day Tamimi was injured, IDF [Israeli army] forces were firing at Palestinians who were throwing stones, with the aim of dispersing them.”

“Tamimi, witnesses said, was standing on a ladder behind a wall and was hit in the head the moment he raised it above the ledge,” the newspaper added.

It also published photos of the bullet removed in the surgery and of a CT scan showing it lodged inside Muhammad’s head.

The boy himself gave a similar account in this video published by Haaretz in early January:

And Defense for Children International-Palestine reported days after the shooting, citing an eyewitness, that “Israeli forces shot Muhammad Tamimi, 15, with a rubber-coated metal bullet shortly after clashes had ended.”

“According to the eyewitness, Israeli forces appeared to have exited the area around 4 pm when an Israeli soldier shot Muhammad in the face with a rubber-coated metal bullet at close range,” the group stated.

“He [Muhammad] was laying on the ground. His face and clothes were covered in blood,” the eyewitness said.

The doctor who treated Muhammad told Defense for Children International-Palestine that the boy “underwent two operations to remove the rubber-coated metal bullet, which lodged in the back of his skull and caused severe bleeding in his brain.”

Coercing a frightened boy

A journalist for the French news agency AFP reported on Tuesday that Muhammad Tamimi “confirmed,” that following his nighttime arrest he told the army he had had a bike accident, “but said he lied to avoid jail for protesting.”

Gaby Lasky, a lawyer who defends members of the Tamimi family, accused COGAT head Mordechai of “cynically abusing” a “miserable, made-to-order” investigation that induced “a frightened child [to] lie during the interrogation.”

Lasky confirmed to The Electronic Intifada that Muhammad was interrogated without a lawyer or a parent present, one of many abusive practices Israel uses against detained Palestinian children to coerce confessions.

B’Tselem’s Michaeli also quipped that Muhammad Tamimi is “the only Palestinian boy in history who denied throwing stones and was believed [by] the Israeli army.”

Israeli conspiracy theories

All this evidence will not convince the Israeli army, nor Israel’s most fanatical supporters; the goal of sending soldiers to arrest a badly injured child in the middle of the night and then having a general post his “confession” on Facebook is not to seek the truth but to sow doubt.

And this is where the pattern comes in: Israel’s obfuscation, lies and denials are legion, but it suffices to point to just a few.

B’Tselem’s Michaeli recalled another instance of Israel’s Orwellian lies: Beitunia, 2014.

This is a reference to the 2014 Nakba Day killings of 17-year-old Nadim Nuwara and 16-year-old Muhammad Abu al-Thahir.

Both were shot dead in cold blood the same day and in circumstances where they posed no conceivable threat to anyone – killings that were caught on video.

After the shootings, Israel’s spin doctors were out spreading their Orwellian lies.

Michael Oren, now a deputy minister in the Israeli government, went on CNN to claim that the two boys shot dead on 15 May 2014 might not even be dead.

In order to cast doubt, he cited the videotaped shooting of 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura in Gaza in 2000 at the outset of the second intifada, which generated worldwide outrage.

Oren recycled the far-right conspiracy theory that the shooting had been staged, even questioning whether the child “was shot at all.”

Israel also first denied live ammunition had been used in the Nakba Day killings but when the evidence could not be buried it finally indicted one of its occupation soldiers, Ben Dery, with manslaughter for killing Nuwara.

Though Dery’s indictment was a rare instance of an Israeli having to answer for harming a Palestinian, the soldier has been offered a plea which will reportedly get him a “light punishment.”

No one has been charged in the killing of Abu al-Thahir.

More recently, Oren has promoted the conspiracy theory that the Tamimis are not a real family but rather a group of “blond, blue-eyed and light-skinned” actors hired to “make Israel look bad.”

And it’s hardly surprising to see that Oren quickly took to Twitter to promote Mordechai’s claim that Muhammad Tamimi just fell off his bike:

Peter Lerner, a former Israeli military spokesperson, also promoted the claim as an example of “Pallywood” – a term anti-Palestinian conspiracy theorists use to describe what they imagine is an an organized Palestinian effort to fake human rights abuses to embarrass Israel:

Israel won’t listen to words

B’Tselem’s Michaeli made an astute observation that Mordechai’s fabrications are intended solely for the consumption of the Israeli right.

That’s an indication that Israel understands that it is badly losing support among international audiences who care about human rights.

To sustain the level of oppression that Palestinians face, Israel needs to constantly convince its “home front” that it is in the right, that its soldiers are doing good and that Palestinians are uncivilized beasts who never really suffer, but only lie and fabricate to harm the image of Israel’s “most moral army in the world.”

And on the world stage, Israel is ever more reliant on alliances with a global far-right that is eager to lap up such lies, just as it shares Israel’s rampant Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia.

The message for anyone who cares about human rights is very clear: an Israel this unhinged and brazen doesn’t care about what human rights groups say in their meticulous reports, and is not bothered by the timid bleatings of European Union and UN officials.

Israel only cares what people do, so the answer to this outrage must be more efforts to isolate this regime and make it pay a price through boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

How a Palestinian teen’s rubber-bullet injury to the brain turned to a biking accident overnight

By Loveday Morris, Washington Post

JERUSALEM — At their West Bank home last month, 15-year-old Mohammed al-Tamimi’s family said it was a miracle the teenager was alive after being shot in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet by an Israeli soldier.

Mohammed himself only talked a little, still struggling with his injury. A deep scar ran along his head, which sagged on the left hand side where part of the skull had been removed. He had spent nearly a week in a coma, they said.

But on Monday night, a top Israeli military chief for the Palestinian territories slammed his story as “fake news,” despite medical records and testimony from witnesses that backed up the family’s version of events.

The teen, who had been arrested in a night raid in the early hours of the morning as he was still awaiting surgery to have his skull bone put back in, had admitted under questioning that he had been injured when he had fallen off his bike, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai posted on Facebook. Mordechai is the head of the Israeli military authority responsible for government policy in the Palestinian territories, known as COGAT.

That fact exposed that “culture of lies and incitement continues among the children and adults of the Tamimi family,” he said.

It is just the latest twist in a long-running saga between the well-known Palestinian activist family and Israeli authorities. Mohammed’s 17-year-old cousin Ahed is on trial for charges including assaulting a soldier, after a video went viral of her lashing out at two soldiers in the yard of her home.

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi enters a military courtroom at Ofer Prison, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Jan. 15. (Ammar Awad/Reuters)

With Ahed turning into a Palestinian cause celebre, the family says that Israeli authorities are desperate to silence them. At the first hearing of Ahed’s trial earlier this month, the military judge ruled that it should be held in secret, despite her lawyer’s protestations. Part of her defense is that the soldiers were part of a group that had shot Mohammed just moments earlier.

“They want to do anything in their power to discredit not only Mohammed, but also the family,” said Mohammed’s uncle Attalah Tamimi. He said that the boy was scared, not in a fit medical state to be questioned, and said he had fallen off his bike because he was afraid that he would be detained if he admitted he was shot during a demonstration. He is on anti-epilepsy medication to prevent seizures, he said.

“He must be the first Palestinian teenager that the Israeli army believes when he denies he is involved in clashes,” said Jonathan Pollak, an activist with the campaign to free Ahed. He described the turn of events as “preposterous.”

The extended Tamimi clan dominates the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, where they hold weekly protests against Israeli occupation and the neighboring Israeli settlement, which they say has stolen their land and water spring. Israeli critics paint them as provocateurs and even actors, with a subcommittee of the parliament launching an investigation in 2015 into whether the family was real or actors.

A spokesman for the Israeli military declined to comment whether there was a record of anyone having been shot with a rubber bullet in Nabi Saleh on Dec. 15, the day in question. A medical report provided by the family from a hospital in Ramallah says that Mohammed was admitted with a bullet injury. The hospital confirmed that it was genuine.

The bullet had entered his head, but there was no exit wound, the report said. It described him as drowsy and bleeding “profusely.” After an urgent brain scan, a “metallic bullet [was] noted in the left temporal lobe,” it said.

“This is not a case of he says, she says,” said Pollak, who said he was about 30 meters away when the incident happened and helped Mohammed to a hospital. “The boy was shot.”

Rights groups said that Mordechai’s statement is shocking. A statement from COGAT later reiterated that the post under the heading “The truth about Mohammed Tamimi” and with “Fake News” stamped across it in red was based on Mohammed’s version of events, which he repeated several times. “The truth is always our guiding light and we will continue to present the truth in order to expose the Palestinian incitement apparatus,” it said.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

What’s stunning about @cogat_israel claim that Muhammad Tamimi “fell off his bike” (not shot in the face) is not how big a lie it is: we’ve seen Orwellian lies before (Beitunia 2014). But such easily debunked lies show the only target audience is Israeli right.

“A surgeon removed the bullet from Tamimi’s skull after he allegedly fell off his bike,” said Amit Gilutz, from the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. He said that the arrest of a 15-year-old as he awaited surgery to replace part of his skull after being shot in the head is “testament to just how little regard Israeli authorities have for the well-being and lives of all Palestinians, including minors.”

“Having been interrogated under such conditions, it’s no wonder if Tamimi indeed confessed to sustaining the injury due to a bike accident,” he said. “He may as well have confessed to it being the result of a dolphin-back-riding accident in the sea of Nabi Saleh.”

Loveday Morris is The Washington Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief. She was previously based in Baghdad and Beirut for The Post. Sufian Taha and Ruth Eglash in Jerusalem contributed to this article.

Enter your email address below to receive our latest articles right in your inbox.