The Gaza Post|The News of Palestine-Palestine
The Israeli military trial of a Palestinian teenager charged after a viral video showed her hitting two soldiers in the occupied West Bank began Tuesday behind closed doors.
The judge in the trial ordered journalists removed from the courtroom, ruling that open proceedings would not be in the interest of 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi, who is being tried as a minor.
Only family members were allowed to remain in the courtroom, with diplomats present to observe also asked to leave.
Ahed Tamimi, 17, is charged with 12 offences, including assaulting security forces and incitement to violence.
If convicted, she could face a lengthy jail term.
For Palestinians, Ms Tamimi is a symbol of resistance to Israeli occupation, but many Israelis regard her as a violent troublemaker seeking publicity.
Amnesty International has called for Ahed Tamimi’s release, accusing Israel of discriminatory treatment of Palestinian children.
Ahed Tamimi, then 16, was filmed by her mother, Nariman, shouting at and shoving two soldiers in the driveway of her family home in Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank on 15 December 2017.
In the footage she kicks one soldier and slaps his face, and threatens to punch the other.
Ahed Tamimi was arrested in 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.
The case sparked an outpouring of deeply opposing views between Israelis and Palestinians.
Following the incident, Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Ahed and Nour Tamimi deserved to “finish their lives in prison”.
Many Israelis say Ahed Tamimi has long been exploited by her family, who they accuse of using her to try to provoke Israeli soldiers on film.
She was praised for her actions by then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who presented her with a “courage” award.
Ahed Tamimi first came to public prominence when, aged 11, she appeared in a video threatening to punch another soldier.
For Palestinians, Ahed Tamimi has become a national icon for what they see as acts of bravery in standing up to armed soldiers on occupied land.
Her face has appeared on street murals and posters, while an online petition organised by her father calling for her release has gathered 1.7m signatures.
The Israeli military said it had dispatched the soldiers to the Tamimis’ home where Palestinian youths had been throwing stones at troops sent to quell violent protests in the village.
Human rights groups say Ahed Tamimi’s case highlights what they say is Israel’s harsh treatment of Palestinian minors.
About 1,400 Palestinian minors have been prosecuted in special juvenile military courts over the past three years, the IDF says.
Civil rights groups are very critical of the Israeli system, saying it lacks fundamental protections and give no guarantee of fair trial.