Arrested in December for slapping an Israeli soldier who had entered her yard, 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi was later arrested in the middle of the night, is currently being held in a military prison, and is being tried in a closed military courtroom.
“The Israeli military supposes by arresting Ahed Tamimi they can silence their activism. But although painful, it’s definitely put a spotlight on Palestinian children in detention.”
— Fadi Quran, senior campaigner with the activist group Avaaz
Slouching in her chair and mouthing messages to her friends and family from under a cascade of strawberry-blond curls, Ahed Tamimi in many ways appears to be an everyday teenager.
But the tussle of television cameras and photographers that crowded in for a shot of her in the dock of a small Israeli military court in Ofer for a bail hearing last month was a reminder that she is far from it.
Ahed, who recently turned 17, was arrested after a video of her slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers who had entered her front yard went viral last year. On Tuesday, after nearly two months in detention, she went on trial on 12 charges, including assault of a soldier and incitement.
Although no one was seriously hurt, the Israeli military, her lawyer says, is keen to make an example of her to deter other young Palestinians from fighting back against the Israeli occupation. However, a lengthy public trial looked set to only raise her profile and highlight human rights concerns surrounding the detention of minors in Israel.
In what rights groups and her lawyer said they suspected was a deliberate effort to try to prevent that, the military judge ejected all journalists and observers from the first trial hearing on Tuesday.
The judge ruled that it was in Ahed’s interests, even though her lawyer argued that it was not.