Judge Closes Courtroom as Trial Begins for Palestinian Teen Who Slapped Soldiers

UN rights experts alarmed by detention of Palestinian girl

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.

In the court hearing that was held behind closed doors, the judge made a decision to extend the detention of the 17-year-old girl until March 11 without giving further details.

The altercation with soldiers happened shortly after Tamimi's cousin was shot in the head with a rubber bullet during a demonstration as he climbed a wall of a complex Israeli soldiers had commandeered, according to Bassem Tamimi, Ahed's father, who is a well-known leader of protests in his village.

A large crowd of local and global journalists had shown up to cover the trial of Tamimi, who has become something of an icon for Palestinians and supporters of their cause worldwide. "So the way to keep it out of everybody's eyes is to close doors and not allow people inside the court for her hearing", she said.

Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick, who created the world famous image of Che Guevara in 1967, has given the same heroic treatment to teenage Palestinian protestor Ahed Tamimi, 17.

Several senior Israeli officials have called for harsh punishment for Tamimi, describing her either as a terrorist, a serial troublemaker or a gullible teen being cynically manipulated by others. The closed-door trial is based on 12 charges including those of aggravated assault and incitement.

The charges relate to events in the video and five other incidents. Since 2009, residents there have staged regular anti-occupation protests that often ended with stone-throwing clashes. It is this disparity between the reality of Palestinian resistance and the rhetoric of Israeli oppressive options that gives Ahed Tamimi's story such symbolic poignancy.

After the prosecution read the 12-count indictment, the trial was adjourned until next month. Her mother, Nariman Tamimi, also is charged for incitement on social media and for assault.

He said the Tamimi case is not isolated, and that Israel detains and prosecutes 500 to 700 Palestinian children in military courts annually. "The minor (Tamimi) and her parents wanted the doors open and in this case, the court need not decide what is best for her".

Rights groups such as Amnesty International have pointed out that under the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Israel is a state party, the "arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child must be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time". She was arrested for slapping an IDF soldier.

The Israeli military claim the soldiers were in the area to prevent Palestinians from throwing stones at Israeli motorists. "Nothing she has done can justify her continued detention and the long, aggressive interrogation sessions she has been forced to endure during the first two weeks of her detention".

The heavily armed soldiers do not respond to what appears to be an attempt to provoke rather than seriously harm them.

The scuffle took place amid clashes and protests against US President Donald Trump's controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel 's capital.

The experts also called on Israeli authorities to respect and ensure basic due process rights, with particular attention to the rights and protections afforded to children, and re-emphasized their call for Tamimi to be released in line with these protections. Two Israelis have been killed since then.

She was arrested during a night raid four days later, after a video of her threatening and beating two Israel Defense Forces soldiers went viral.

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