Tuesday 18 September 2018

Israeli military court to try teenage Palestinian protester Ahed Tamimi

The 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi has been indicted on charges of assault and incitement that could potentially land her in prison for several years.

Ahed Tamimi at a previous court appearance (AP)
Ahed Tamimi at a previous court appearance (AP)

By Karin Laub

Teenage Palestinian protester Ahed Tamimi is to go on trial before an Israeli military court on Tuesday for slapping and punching two Israeli soldiers.

While Israel portrays the act as a staged provocation meant to embarrass its military, for Palestinians it embodies their David vs Goliath struggle against a brutal military occupation.

Israel’s prosecution of Tamimi, one of an estimated 300 Palestinian minors in Israeli jails, and a senior Israeli official’s recent revelation that he once had parliament investigate whether the blonde, blue-eyed Tamimis are a “real” Palestinian family, have helped stoke ongoing interest in the case.

The teenager, who recently turned 17 in jail, has become the latest symbol of the long-running battle between Palestinians and Israelis.

The case touches on what constitutes legitimate resistance to Israel’s rule over millions of Palestinians, already in its 51st year after Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in 1967.

Ahed Tamimi’s supporters see a brave girl who struck two armed 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.

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Demonstrators hold posters in support of the teenager (AP)

Israel has treated Tamimi’s actions as a criminal offence, indicting her on charges of assault and incitement that could potentially land her in prison for several years.

Tamimi’s arrest from her home in December and her pre-trial court appearances, flanked by Israeli guards and looking impassive, have evoked a sense of history on a loop. Another generation of Palestinians seems locked in a cycle of protests and arrests by Israel, three decades after Palestinians staged their first uprising, throwing stones and burning tyres in the streets.

Since the mid-1990s, several US-mediated rounds of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel have ended in failure. Gaps in positions only widened in the past decade, as Israeli settlement expansion continued and the Palestinians failed to end a crippling political split between an internationally backed self-rule government in parts of the West Bank and the Islamic militant group Hamas which dominates Gaza.

Tamimi’s father Bassem, who threw his first stone at the age of 14 and was an activist in the first uprising, said he expects the military court will deal harshly with his daughter and that she might remain in prison for some time.

His wife, Nariman, is being prosecuted over the same December 15 scuffle in their village of Nabi Saleh and has been locked up alongside their daughter.

Press Association

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