Wednesday 22 January 2020

Released Palestinian teenage protester says she has political future

Ahed Tamimi served an eight-month jail term for slapping two Israeli soldiers.

Ahed Tamimi speaks during a press conference on the outskirts of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh (AP)
Ahed Tamimi speaks during a press conference on the outskirts of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh (AP)

By Mohammed Daraghmeh

Teenage Palestinian protester Ahed Tamimi has vowed to keep demonstrating against the Israeli occupation and said she expects to have a “political future”.

Ms Tamimi spoke after serving an eight-month sentence for slapping two Israeli soldiers in an incident captured on film that has made her an icon among Palestinians and their supporters.

She said she hopes to pursue a law degree in order to document human rights violations.

Ahed Tamimi is hugged by her father Bassam after her release from prison (AP)

The curly-haired 17-year-old struck the soldiers outside her West Bank home in frustration after learning that troops wounded a cousin in nearby clashes.

Israel views her as a provocateur.

Her case sparked debate over what constitutes legitimate resistance to Israel’s half-century rule over the Palestinians.

Ms Tamimi said: “I would like to be lawyer to convey the voice of my country and the message of my people.

“I expect to have a political future.”

She also said she will “always be in the field”, referring to the protests regularly held against Israeli settlement-building and other actions in the West Bank.

Ahed Tamimi holds her 1-month-old cousin Mohammed at the family house (AP)

She said there had been daily protests and clashes with Israeli soldiers in December after US president Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that upended decades of US foreign policy and an international consensus that the city’s status should be settled in negotiations.

The move infuriated the Palestinians, who saw it as a blatant show of pro-Israel bias. The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 war as their capital.

Ms Tamimi said: “Soldiers used to deliberately come through the area of my house, and shoot from the entrance of the house.”

She said the soldier she confronted was the same one who had shot her cousin “only five minutes” earlier. She said that soldiers had shot tear gas at her house even though there was an elderly couple inside.

“I was full of strong feelings, upset… burned from inside,” she said.

Ahed Tamimi prays at the tomb of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah (AP)

Israeli authorities treated her actions as a criminal offense, indicting her on charges of assault and incitement.

The incident set off a debate within Israel about the soldiers’ refusal to respond when they are slapped, with many saying it had undermined their ability to deter future violence.

More liberal Israelis said the hard-charging prosecution of Ms Tamimi had been a public relations disaster that only amplified her fame.

Ms Tamimi has scuffled with soldiers in the past, and a widely circulated photo shows her raising a clenched fist toward a soldier who towers over her. She was 12 when it was taken.

PA Media

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