Ahed Tamimi, 17, appeared in an Israeli military court on Tuesday for the start of her trial on charges of slapping and kicking an Israeli soldier last December.
On Tuesday morning, Tamimi — wearing a prison uniform and with her hands and feet in restraints — was led into the courtroom at the Ofer military prison near Ramallah for preliminary trial hearings.
The teenager faces 12 charges, including aggravated assault. An adult could be jailed for up to 10 years, but such an outcome is considered unlikely for a minor who was 16 when the incident happened.
The case has sparked much controversy, her advocates touting her as a hero of Palestinian resistance, and Human rights group Amnesty International is calling for her immediate release, citing an international convention on the “Rights of the Child” not to be arrested except as “a last resort.”
Israeli authorities, however, regard her as a publicity-seeking supporter of terrorism, and have justified her custody to the end of the trial because she poses a threat to public order, in view of her prior record of incitement and rock-throwing against soldiers.
MK Michael Oren (Kulanu) had harsh words for the Temimis:
“The Tamimi family — which may not be a real family — dresses up kids in American clothes and pays them to provoke IDF troops on camera. This cynical and cruel use of children constitutes abuse. Human rights organizations must investigate!”
Further controversy was caused by the judge’s order to conduct proceedings without journalists present because she is a minor.
Outside court, Tamimi’s lawyer Gaby Lasky said her family wanted the case to be heard in public. “I think the decision of the court is because the court decided what is good for the court, and not what is good for Ahed,” Lasky said. “They understand that people outside Ofer military court are interested in Ahed’s case.”
The case was adjourned until March, and could go on for months. Tamimi remains in custody.