Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi, who was arrested after she was seen on video slapping two Israeli soldiers during protests in the West Bank on December 15, went on trial behind closed doors at an Israeli military court on Tuesday. According to The Associated Press, Tamimi had confronted the soldiers after her 15-year-old cousin was shot in the head at a close range by a rubber bullet that ended up embedded in his brain. She has been kept in detention since her arrest in December, and turned 17 while in prison last month.
Shortly after Tamimi was led into the courtroom, which was full of journalists and European diplomats, the judge ordered all spectators except family members to leave — a measure that the judge justified by claiming it was in Tamimi’s interest. Defense lawyer Gaby Lasky reportedly objected to the move, telling the judge that the family had asked for an open trial. Behind closed doors, a 12-count indictment was presented against the teenager — including charges of assault and incitement that could see her imprisoned for several years.
Speaking to reporters afterward, Lasky said that the indictment was “solely created in order to deter Ahed and other Palestinian youths” from protesting the Israeli occupation, and further suggested that the court itself was set up to curb Palestinian resistance. She added that Tamimi has not yet entered a plea, and that the next hearing would be on March 11.
Michael Lynk, a U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, condemned Tamimi’s continued detention as a violation of international legal conventions that prohibit minors being deprived of liberty except as a last resort and only for the shortest appropriate time. According to Lynk, Israel detains and prosecutes 500 to 700 Palestinian children each year. Tamimi is a divisive figure in the Middle East. As the AP notes, “the teen … is seen by some as a Joan of Arc-like heroine and by others as a troublemaker or even a terrorist.”
Below, watch the video of Tamimi slapping the Israeli soldiers, which led to her arrest.
Read the full story at The Associated Press.