Mohammed Tamimi and his cousin Osama Tamimi File picture: Dirco News Service
Johannesburg - Mohammed Tamimi, the Palestinian teenager who was brought to South Africa in October for facial surgery at Sandton MediClinic after Israeli soldiers shot him in the head, is being held after a raid on his home at 2am on Friday by Israeli security forces.

His family was denied access to him, but communication to lawyers they engaged indicate he is being held for interrogation and will be brought before a military court today.

International calls are being made for Mohammed’s immediate release from detention by Israeli security forces who have been holding him in an undisclosed location and interrogating him at the age of 17.

Mohammed’s ordeal comes on the heels of the announcement by Minister for International Relations Lindiwe Sisulu that the downgrading of relations with Israel is under way.

The ANC, Cosatu, the SACP, Nehawu, South African Jews for a Free Palestine, the Muslim Judicial Council, the Jamiatul Ulama SA, and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign have all issued statements of support for the government’s decision.

The downgrade is set to continue for as long as Israel continues to perpetrate human rights abuses against the Palestinians and violates international law.

Mohammed miraculously survived being shot by an Israeli soldier in December 2017, when a bullet penetrated his brain. He was playing soccer with his friends in the village of Nabi Saleh when he looked over a wall having heard community demonstrations nearby.

An Israeli soldier shot him at point blank range leaving him for dead while his friends had to flag down a passing car to get him medical help.

Palestinian surgeons were able to dislodge the bullet from his brain, and he was last year brought to South Africa for reconstructive surgery. Following the procedure undertaken by South African plastic and maxillofacial surgeons, his eyesight and functional mobility of his jaw had been restored.

Shortly after Mohammed had been shot in the head, his 16-year-old cousin, Ahed Tamimi, slapped the Israeli soldier across the face who had shot him. She was subsequently arrested and detained for months by the Israeli security forces.

Ahed, with her billowing blonde hair, became an iconic image symbolising the Palestinian struggle against Israel’s brutal occupation. Solidarity movements around the globe staged marches and protests calling for Ahed’s release.

Now, it is her younger cousin, who is still recovering from his brain injuries and reconstructive surgery, that is again the focus of the world’s attention after being dragged away from his bed by Israeli security forces.

The Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, which is north-west of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, has been a regular target of the Israeli occupation forces, which shoot tear gas and bullets at community protesters, who often demonstrate against the wall, daily human rights abuses, and the confiscation of their land.

Children in the village are regularly detained and tortured, often just for throwing stones.

Mohamed’s cousin, Osama, who had accompanied him to South Africa a few months ago, was also detained for months last year, accused of throwing stones.

Osama was kept for almost two weeks of his detention in an underground bunker the size of a coffin, with no air or daylight, where he regularly passed out.

“I would lose consciousness due to the lack of oxygen, and when the Israeli soldiers would come to take me out, they would yell at me to push on the metal door as they were unable to open it themselves,” Osama said.

“We demand that Mohamed Tamimi and all Palestinian children are released from Israeli prisons now. The international community must put an end to the ill-treatment and detention of Palestinian children,” South Africa-based solidarity group Shamsaan has said.

* Shannon Ebrahim is Independent Media's Foreign Editor.