In an article published Sunday night, The Daily Beast described a video recorded in December of two Israeli soldiers interrogating Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teen who was detained after video surfaced of her slapping an Israeli soldier.
The description in The Daily Beast’s story depicts a troubling power dynamic, in which one of Tamimi’s two male interrogators resorts to flirting with her after other tactics to break her silence fail.
When explaining why most pretrial hearings were closed to the media and public, the military judge claimed he wanted to protect the “rights of the minor.” This claim contradicts the benefits Tamimi has received from publicity surrounding her case, which drew significant international attention. But the judge’s claims were also directly challenged by those conducting the nearly two-hour interrogation.
Although the video is not embedded in The Daily Beast article, the outlet described the interaction in detail.
"With a nonchalant expression [on] her face, she says nothing while asked a series of routine questions. Even when asked to state her name, she asserts her right to remain silent. As the interrogation gets underway, the main interrogator — an Israeli Jew of Middle Eastern origin who is overheard saying he is from military intelligence, appears to be in his late 20s to early 30s, and sports a buzz cut, grayish shirt, blue jeans, and a gun on his waist — tries to engage Ahed in conversation.
She stays resolutely silent, maintaining a blank expression. The interrogator, speaking in Hebrew-accented choppy Arabic, tries flirting in an overbearing and intimidating manner.
'You have eyes like an angel,' he says to the 16-year-old as she responds with a cold stare and silence.
The interrogator switches to the familial approach and launches into an explanation of how Ahed is just like his sister and how his sister spends all his money on clothes. Ahed appears unfazed and uninterested, her eyes glazing over at times.
Seeing his colleague failing to relate, the second interrogator tries direct intimidation. 'I’m an interrogator from Israel,' he says authoritatively. 'We walk in line with the law... In all the areas the law is Israeli, the law of the military. And you have to listen to the law, you and all the family.'
Ahed says nothing, so the main interrogator again tries to relate her to his sister. All the while, a second man wearing a plaid shirt, whose face can’t be seen, sits behind a desk, occasionally encouraging the main interrogator to give up.
At one point the main interrogator becomes flustered and theatrically throws his notepad and removes his gun, telling Ahed that it isn’t an interrogation and pleading with her to chat with him. Ahed says nothing.
Then the interrogator starts showing her videos of what appear be the slapping incident and protests in her hometown. The expression on her face softens.
The interrogator pounces. 'Your mom, this is the voice of your mom! Whose voice is that?' he demands. Clearly distressed, Ahed keeps her lips sealed. He then threatens her with jail time. She remains silent.
Throughout most of the interrogation Ahed maintains a relatively blank and at times tired and bored expression. However, it is when the interrogator starts threatening to arrest her family and friends that Ahed’s expression melts into a look of horror followed by melancholy."
The dynamic shows the duplicity of military court proceedings and how judges can claim to be respecting the rights of minors while other state officials blatantly disregard those rights during an interrogation. Tamimi took a plea deal, likely in part because Israel's military court system boasts a more than 99 percent conviction rate for Palestinians.
Although the video seen by The Daily Beast has not been released publicly, its description could prove to be a humiliation for Israel. After the video of Tamimi went viral, some pundits described her slap of a heavily armed soldier as a public emasculation of an occupation force. According to The Daily Beast’s description of the interrogation, Tamimi once again challenges the power of the Israeli state, and this time she doesn’t even speak.