Shattered Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi freed from Israeli detention, in video that shocked Palestinians

Shattered Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi freed from Israeli detention, in video that shocked Palestinians
Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi was released after over eight months of Israeli administrative detention with signs of significant physical exhaustion.
4 min read
10 June, 2024
In 2018, Tamimi attended an event in an act of solidarity with Palestine in Madrid [Getty]

An exhausted looking Bassem Tamimi, a well-known Palestinian activist, was released on Sunday from Israeli detention, where he was held for over eight months under administrative detention, without a charge or trial.

Local Palestinian media published a video of 57-year-old Tamimi at the moment of his release, showing a noticeable deterioration in his appearance, exhibiting clear signs of emotional and physical exhaustion.

Tamimi, who is the father of iconic activist Ahed Tamimi, appeared much thinner than before his detention, with pronounced cheekbones and a more gaunt look due to weight loss. Palestinians also pointed out his significantly greyer hair and sunken eyes, which they attributed to stress or mistreatment.

Bassem Tamimi, who is the father of Palestinian rights icon Ahed Tamimi, is a human rights activist and the leader of the non-violent grassroots group Nabi Saleh Popular Struggle Coordination Committee in the occupied West Bank, which protests Israeli settlements and the occupation of Palestinian land.

He had faced harassment, intimidation, and arbitrary detention by Israeli authorities multiple times, having endured more than three years in administrative detention without charge or trial at one point.

Tamimi was last arrested on 29 October 2023 at Al-Karamah Bridge (King Hussein/Allenby Bridge) that connects Jordan River near the city of Jericho in the West Bank and the town of Al-Karameh in Jordan, and an administrative detention order was issued against him for six months. 

On April 25, 2024, Israeli authorities issued a new six-month administrative detention order but a judicial review session was held for him on Friday, resulting in his release.

Many took to social media to comment on his appearance, which coincided with the release of four Israeli captives held in Gaza over the weekend in an operation, which reportedly included US troops and the use of the controversial US-built pier off the besieged enclave.

The Israeli operation, which targeted the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, killed over 274 Palestinians - most of whom were civilians - and injured more than 698. 

Palestinian ambassador to the UK, Husam Zomlot, posted on X: "Bassem Tamimi was released today after 9 months in Israeli captivity, where he was held without charge or trial like thousands of other Palestinian hostages in Israeli torture camps.

"Bassem is a dear friend, and a human rights activists who peacefully defended his village Nabi Saleh from the regular terror attacks of settler militias and Israeli army. Look what they did to him in 9 months! Bassem will endure and recover and the criminals and their enablers will be brought to justice!"

Live Story

Others were quick to compare Tamimi's appearance after his release from Israeli detention to that of the rescued captives, who appeared in good condition after they were freed from Gaza on Saturday.

"People notice the difference in the condition of detainees between the government of Israel and Palestine," a post on X read.

Administrative detention has been increasingly utilised by Israel, reaching levels not seen in decades, with hundreds more detained in the occupied West Bank since 7 October.

As of early May, the total number of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons exceeded 9,300, including more than 3,400 administrative detainees, and 250 children, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club.

On November 7, 2023, Ahed Tamimi was arrested as part of a wide campaign in the West Bank after 7 October but she was soon released in the sixth batch of a prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel on 30 November.

Live Story

Several human rights groups have documented allegations of torture used by Israel against Palestinian prisoners, including a variety of physical and psychological methods reported by former detainees.

These methods encompass physical abuse, such as beatings with hands, batons, or other objects, prolonged shackling in painful positions, and exposure to extreme temperatures.

Psychological torture methods reportedly used include threats of harm to the detainee or their family members, solitary confinement for extended periods, and sleep deprivation.

Additionally, detainees often face deprivation of basic needs such as food, water, and medical care, along with restricted access to legal representation and family visits.

Live Story

There are also allegations of sexual abuse, including threats of sexual violence and instances of sexual harassment and humiliation.

Sensory deprivation and overload techniques, such as blindfolding, hooding, and exposure to loud noises or bright lights, were also reported.

Detainees are often coerced into signing confessions under duress and are subjected to positional torture, where they are forced into stress positions for prolonged periods, causing severe pain.

These methods, documented by human rights organisations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Israeli rights group B'Tselem, as well as reports from the United Nations, are in violation of international laws and conventions against torture, including the UN Convention Against Torture.