Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi goes on trial

Ahed Tamini, 17, appeared in court over a video featuring her slappingan Israeli soldier outside her home taken after she found out Israeli troops had seriously injured her 15-year-old cousin 

Ahed Tamimi escorted into the court.
Ahed Tamimi escorted into the court.

A teenage Palestinian girl filmed slapping an Israeli soldier outside her home has gone to trial in an Israeli military court to face various charges including assaulting security forces, incitement and throwing stones.

Ahed Tamimi, who turned 17 in jail last month, arrived on Tuesday morning for the first day of what could be a months-long trial, in what has become a symbolic case in the battle for international public opinion.

If convicted, she could face a lengthy jail term.

For Palestinians, Tamimi is a symbol of resistance to Israeli occupation, yet many Israelis regard her as a violent troublemaker.

Tamimi’s supporters say the incident in December occurred soon after she discovered Israeli troops had seriously wounded her 15-year-old cousin, who was shot in the head with a rubber bullet during a stone-throwing clash.

She was arrested during a night-time raid days later. Her mother has also been charged with incitement on social media and assault, and her cousin, Nour, who participated in the incident, has been charged with assault.

Arrested in the middle of the night and since denied bail, Tamimi could face years in prison for what prosecutors argue was a criminal offence. She faces 12 charges, some of which date back to 2016.

Tamimi’s father, Bassem, said on Tuesday that he arrived at trial “with no good expectations, because this a military court, and it’s part of the Israeli military occupation”.

Amnesty International has called for Ahed Tamimi's release, accusing Israel of discriminatory treatment of Palestinian children.

“As an unarmed girl, Ahed posed no threat during the altercation with the two Israeli soldiers who were heavily armed and wearing protective clothing,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and Africa.

For Palestinians, Tamimi has become a national icon for what they see as acts of bravely in standing up to armed soldiers on occupied land.

Her face has been plastered on street murals and posters, while an online petition organised by her father calling for her release gathered 1.7m signatures. 

Tamimi's face has become a symbol of bravery standing up to armed soldiers on occupied land
Tamimi's face has become a symbol of bravery standing up to armed soldiers on occupied land

Israeli politicians have however applauded the restraint.

“She is not a little girl, she is a terrorist,” said the culture minister, Miri Regev, before the trial. “It’s about time they will understand that people like her have to be in jail and not be allowed to incite to racism and subversion against the state of Israel.”

Israel's Education Minister Naftali Bennett also said Ahed and Nour Tamimi deserved to "finish their lives in prison".

One senior Israeli official recently revealed he had asked a parliamentary committee to investigate whether the blond, blue-eyed Tamimi family were “real” Palestinians.