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February 13, 2018 5:16 pm

Head of NGO Watchdog: Amnesty International and Family of Palestinian Detained for Hitting Soldier ‘Work Closely Together’

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Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi enters a military courtroom escorted by Israeli security personnel at Ofer Prison near Ramallah, Jan. 15, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.

The advocacy group Amnesty International and the family of a Palestinian teenager arrested for hitting an Israeli soldier “work closely together,” the head of a leading local watchdog group charged on Tuesday.

Amnesty released a statement on Monday condemning the detention and upcoming trial of Ahed Tamimi, who was filmed in December kicking and slapping Israeli soldiers — who did not respond to the attack — in the West Bank. Tamimi was arrested shortly after and is being held in prison pending trial.

In its press release, Amnesty said, “The Israeli authorities must immediately release teenage activist Ahed Tamimi whose continued detention is a desperate attempt to intimidate Palestinian children who dare to stand up to repression by occupying forces. … Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is a state party, the arrest, detention, or imprisonment of a child must be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”

In an interview with The Algemeiner, Gerald Steinberg, founder and president of NGO Monitor, stated that Amnesty’s claim is not based on an objective analysis of international law.

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“This is another dimension of Amnesty’s political warfare,” he said, “waged in alliance with UNICEF and with Palestinian NGOs such as [Defense for Children Palestine] and Adameer, which are reportedly linked to the [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] terror organization.”

“There is no factual or legal basis for the campaign,” Steinberg added. “Indeed, Israel deals with Palestinian minors according to the same procedures used in the US and UK, for example.”

According to Steinberg, Amnesty has “a long history of exploiting human rights for anti-Israel propaganda.”

The organization “played a leading role in the infamous 2001 Durban NGO Forum that launched the campaign of demonization,” including the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, he stated. “They also helped push the notorious 2009 UN Goldstone Report and a number of false allegations in the document cited Amnesty claims. The Ahed Tamimi case is simply another in the long series of such attacks on Israel, and another opportunity to use the facade of human rights for ideology and hate.”

“A number of Amnesty employees in different branches of the organization target Israel, and some are involved in antisemitic memes,” Steinberg pointed out. “For example, Edith Garwood, Amnesty USA ‘country specialist on Israel and Palestine’ and Alicia Koutsoulieris, Amnesty USA ‘case coordinator on Israel and Palestine,’ have long histories of involvement in hate campaigns, including BDS. In Amnesty UK, Kristyan Benedict posts anti-Zionist and antisemitic comments on social media.”

Tamimi’s mother has also been arrested and her family is well known for its anti-Israel activism. Ahed has been confronting Israeli soldiers since she was a child and often appears in videos depicting her attacks, earning her the nickname “Shirley Temper.”

The Tamimi clan in general, with Ahed’s father Bassem at the head, apparently has extensive connections to Amnesty.

“They work closely together,” Steinberg asserted. “For example, in 2015, Amnesty was among the sponsors of Bassem Tamimi’s US speaking tour.”

Asked whether Amnesty will continue its campaign on Tamimi’s behalf, Steinberg simply replied, “The activists in this and other members of the network will continue to ride this issue as long as it generates headlines.”

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