Palestinian viral slap video teen goes on trial
Published : Tuesday, 13 February, 2018 at 3:08 PM Count : 529
A Palestinian teenage girl filmed slapping an Israeli soldier has gone on trial in an Israeli military court in a case which has split public opinion.
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.
The incident was streamed on Nariman Tamimi's Facebook page and video of the confrontation went viral.
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.
Two years ago, the teenager was seen in a viral video biting the hand of an Israeli soldier who had detained her brother on suspicion of throwing stones.
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.
Ahed Tamimi said she lashed out at the soldiers who she said she had seen in a video of her 15-year-old cousin being shot in the head with a rubber bullet that same day.
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 gives no guarantee of a fair trial.