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Palestinian girl, 17, stands trial accused of slapping, punching 2 Israeli soldiers

Palestinian girl, 17, stands trial accused of slapping, punching 2 Israeli soldiers

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.

Israeli forces first detained al-Tamimi on December 19 during an overnight raid carried out in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh for allegedly attacking Israeli soldiers.

The Palestinian girl was seen raising her hand in a victory sign as she walked into the courtroom with chains, whispering to her family members.

"They understand that people are interested in Ahed's case, they understand that her rights are being infringed on and her trial is something that shouldn't be happening", lawyer Gaby Lasky said.

Amnesty International, a London-based international group focused on human rights, has called for the release of the teenager and accused Israel of "discriminatory treatment of Palestinian children".

But Ahed Tamimi's supporters see a fearless 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. Tamimi potentially faces years in prison if convicted of all charges, including assault and incitement in several incidents going back to April 2016.

Bassem Tamimi told journalists after the adjournment that "having people attend the court - journalists, consuls, diplomats, observers and lawyers - is very important because it keeps them safe and makes us feel that those in court are safe". Her curly blonde hair and blue eyes - which led an Israeli minister to question whether she is actually Palestinian - have appeared in several highly publicised photos over the years.

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She said her strategy would be to argue that Israel's continued occupation over the West Bank, captured in the 1967 Mideast war, is illegal and that the indictment is aimed at deterring Ahed and other Palestinian youths "from resisting occupation nonviolently".

"We believe that this is an indictment exclusively created in order to deter Ahed and other Palestinian youths" from resisting occupation, Lasky said afterward. Some commentators claim that what is disproportionate is the global attention devoted to the incident, even suggesting that it was a cynical ploy meant to distract world public opinion due to the failure of Hamas to deliver on its call for a third intifada in response to Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and so move the U.S. Embassy.

Ahed's case was adjourned until March and is expected to continue for months, during which may be forced to stay in custody. "The minor (Tamimi) and her parents wanted the doors open and in this case, the court need not decide what is best for her". "As an unarmed girl, Ahed posed no threat during the altercation with the two Israeli soldiers who were heavily armed and wearing protective clothing". In 2015 a video of her, along with female members of her family, went viral showing her fighting an Israeli occupation soldier who was pinning down her 12-year old male cousin.

Other critics insist that the incident was staged by the Palestinians, with cameras at the ready, and not as spontaneous as the video wants us to believe. His daughter was reportedly upset when she approached the two soldiers and began slapping and kicking them.

Though the Tuesday trial only lasted a few hours, it was ultimately brought to a close after prosecutors asked for more time to prepare their case.

Ahed Tamimi is one of some 350 Palestinian children now in Israeli military detention.


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