Tamimi family and IDF spar over truth in teen’s skull injury

Mohammed Tamimi and his family say the injury was caused by a rubber bullet, but the IDF has a different take.

Mohammed Tamimi (photo credit: COURTESY TAMIMI FAMILY)
Mohammed Tamimi
The Tamimi family turned to the media on Tuesday to dispute the army’s claim that their 15-year-old son Muhammad had been injured in a bicycle accident and had not been shot in the head by an IDF rubber bullet as they contend.
Maj.-Gen. Yoav “Poli” Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, posted in Arabic on his Facebook page Monday night that the Tamimi family has a culture of “lying and inciting.”
The Tamimi family is part of a large clan that lives in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh in Area C of the West Bank. Muhammad’s 17-year-old cousin Ahed is standing trial for assault and incitement after a video went viral that showed her slapping a soldier who was standing outside her home during a December riot.
Ahed Tamimi"s lawyer and father lash out against decision to try the Palestinian teen behind closed doors, February 13, 2018. (Reuters)
The family claims that Muhammad was shot in the head during that same riot and then underwent surgery, in which the rubber bullet and a portion of his skull were removed.
The teenager was arrested in a pre-dawn raid on his home Monday along with eight other people in the village, on suspicion of involvement in public disturbances and nationalistic terrorist activity, according to an IDF representative.
Muhammad was questioned by police and a civil administration officer and then released, the representative said.
Mordechai said that during his interrogation, Muhammad confessed that the handlebars of a bicycle caused his injury after he fell off.
A statement put out by his office tried to water down the impact of his Facebook post by explaining that it was based on taped and documented testimony Muhammad gave to an officer of the civil administration.
The statement explained that the post also gave Muhammad’s father’s version of the story and that the headline was: “What is the truth about Muhammad Tamimi.”
Due to the teen’s age, the tape itself was not released.
The Tamimi family said in response that “Israel has gone out of its mind in its attempt to discredit our family. What began as a far-fetched claim we are not a real family has descended into an attempt to deny documented reality.
“Poli Mordechai and the State of Israel have proven only one thing – that they will stoop to any depth to harm our just struggle for freedom and an end to the occupation,” the family said.
To prove that their son was truly wounded they released an English copy of his medical records regarding the injury from Istishari Medical Hospital in Ramallah, which stated that it had treated him for a “bullet injury.”
“Patient underwent craniotomy with bone fragments gently removed, dura sutured to the bone edges around the window,” the medical record stated.
“Patient also underwent bullet removal with left maxillary sinus repair. Wound closed by layers, patient intubated and transferred to ICU,” it said.
Joint List MK Ayman Odeh said that there were also a number of witnesses to the shooting.
Gaby Lasky, who represents members of the Tamimi family including Ahed, said that Muhammad was questioned without the presence of a parent or any other adult.
He is still recovering from his surgery and is expected to undergo another one next week, she said.
“I sent the police Muhammad’s medical records and reports, so they would understand his condition,” she said.
Lasky said she has not seen Muhammad’s confession but said the teen was suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder related to the shooting and appears to have referenced a bicycle accident to ensure that he would be released.
The “cynical exploitation” of this situation by a major-general in the IDF only shows how far the Israeli authorities are willing to go to harm the Tamimi family, she said.
Lasky called on the IDF to release Ahed Tamimi from jail, adding that, “it’s clear now, if it hadn’t been already, that this military establishment cannot mete out justice in Ahed’s case.”