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Israeli minister investigated if Tamimi family was 'real'

Mohammed Tamimi, 11 ans, dans sa maison à Nabi Saleh, près de Ramallah en Cisjordanie, le 29 août 2015, au lendemain d'affrontements entre les forces de sécurité israéliennes et des manifestants palestiniens
ABBAS MOMANI (AFP)
Michael Oren suspected Ahed Tamimi and her family were staging confrontations with Israel for financial gain

An Israeli minister formally investigated whether a headline-grabbing Palestinian family was “real” or manufactured to generate anti-Israel publicity, the left-wing Haaretz newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Israel generated an international media frenzy in December last year after arresting Ahed Tamimi, 16, who had been captured on film slapping and kicking an Israeli soldier in her West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.

However the large family has long attracted publicity, with Ahed and other family members captured by photographers in 2015 attacking an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier they said was trying to strangle Ahed’s brother.

Michael Oren, Deputy Minister for Diplomacy within the Prime Minister’s Office, confirmed to Haaretz that two years ago the parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee -- which he led -- began probing whether the Tamimis are “a real family”.

The investigation “didn’t reach unequivocal conclusions,” a statement from Oren’s office quoted by the newspaper conceded.

Ahmad GHARABLI (AFP)

Oren, the previous Israeli ambassador to the United States, told the paper he suspected that family members “were chosen for their appearance”.

According to the paper, a spokeswoman for the minister conceded that the Tamimis “apparently is a family, but slowly, [different] children who fit the profile they sought were ‘annexed’ to it.”

In a tweet on Wednesday, Oren accused the family of being emblematic of what he termed “Pallywood,” a strategy of confecting confrontations with Israeli security forces that are aimed at portraying the state in a bad light in the foreign press.

“A 12 year old child is photographed with a cast in his right hand, and the next day with a cast on the left hand. Tell me that’s not funded and staged?” he tweeted.

The committee’s deliberations are classified, but in the wake of the newspaper’s report lawmakers from the Joint Arab List demanded the minutes from the investigation be made public, branding the reported probe as “racist”.

Ahed Tamimi has been charged with 12 counts including assault and is facing a lengthy jail spell if found guilty. On January 17, a judge ordered both Ahed and her mother to be remanded in custody until the conclusion of their trial in an Israeli military court.

Palestinians in the West Bank, over which Israel has had full control since 1967, are subject to military courts.

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