Judge Closes Courtroom as Trial Begins for Palestinian Teen Who Slapped Soldiers


OFER MILITARY BASE, West Bank-Palestinian protester Ahed Tamimi went on trial behind closed doors in an Israeli military court Tuesday for slapping and punching two Israeli soldiers-the opening of a high-profile case against the teen who is seen by some as a Joan of Arc-like heroine and by others as a troublemaker or even a terrorist.

Tamimi, who is now 17 years old, has been held in detention since she was arrested at her home by Israeli soldiers on 19 December 2017. The indictment covers six incidents in recent months in which she was involved in altercations with Israeli soldiers, including the December 15 slapping incident that was captured on video and went viral on social media.

Palestinian Ahed Tamimi, right, a well-known campaigner against Israel's occupation, stands for the beginning of her trial in the Israeli military court at Ofer military prison in the West Bank village of Betunia on Tuesday.

"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", Amnesty International said in a statement. Her mother, Nariman Tamimi, also is charged for incitement on social media and for assault.

Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, 16, has gone on trial before an Israeli military court.

"The court chose to close the doors [to the trial] because they claim that it is in Ahed's best interest". It is also notable that as early as 2013 Ahed gained prominence when given The Handala Courage Award by a Turkish municipality in Istanbul, an occurrence given great attention due to a breakfast in her honor arranged by then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Signatory Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks was previous year among several American football players who pulled out of a propaganda tour of Israel, explaining that he would "not be used" by Israel's government to whitewash violations of Palestinian rights. "So the way to keep it out of everybody's eyes is to close doors and not allow people inside the court for her hearing".

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"The court made a decision to postpone Ahed's trial until March 11", Basem told Anadolu Agency.

Her father Bassem, the only member of her family in the courtroom, said to her: "How are you?"

The scuffle took place amid clashes and protests against US President Donald Trump's controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel 's capital. "I didn't think it's good for the minor that there are 100 people in the courtroom", he said. Israel has faced criticism for prosecuting the teen who has become a powerful symbol of the Palestinian resistance. After the prosecution read out the indictment, Tamimi's trial was adjourned until March 11.

She was arrested during a night raid four days later, after a video of her threatening and beating two Israel Defense Forces soldiers went viral.

United Nations experts have pointed out that Tamimi was arrested in the middle of the night by armed soldiers, and questioned by Israeli security officials without a lawyer or family members present.

Tamimi's family has said that she struck the two soldiers outside her West Bank home in frustration after having just learned that Israeli troops seriously wounded a 15-year-old cousin, shooting him in the head from close range with a rubber bullet during nearby stone-throwing clashes.

"By refusing to release Ahed Tamimi since her arrest, the Israeli authorities have shown nothing but contempt for their obligations under worldwide law to protect children", said Magdalena Mughrabi from Amnesty global.