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Middle East

Ahed Tamimi, Palestinian teen girl who slapped Israeli troops in video that went viral, released from prison

Ahed Tamimi, 17, became a heroine to Palestinians after the December 15 incident outside her home in the village of Nabi Saleh was streamed live on Facebook by her mother. She was 16 at the time

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 July, 2018, 1:42pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 July, 2018, 9:19pm

A Palestinian teenager released from prison by Israel on Sunday after completing a sentence for slapping two Israeli soldiers called for Palestinians to continue their struggle against occupation of the West Bank.

Ahed Tamimi, 17, became a heroine to Palestinians after the incident last December outside her home in Nabi Saleh, a village which has campaigned for years against land seizures by Israel, leading to confrontations with Israel’s military and Jewish settlers.

Israelis saw the incident, which Tamimi’s mother relayed live on Facebook, as a staged provocation.

Tamimi, who was 16 at the time of her detention, faced 12 charges, including aggravated assault.

In March, she pleaded guilty to a reduced charge sheet that included assault and was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, dating back to her arrest in December.

Wearing her trademark black-and-white chequered Arab scarf, Tamimi greeted dozens of well-wishers in brief remarks outside the home of a Nabi Saleh villager killed by Israeli forces.

“From this martyr’s house, I say: resistance is continuing until the occupation is removed,” she told reporters.

“All the female prisoners in jail are strong, and I thank everyone who stood by me while I was in prison.”

In a sign of the sensitivity of the case, Israeli authorities on Saturday arrested two Italians and a Palestinian for painting Tamimi’s now-familiar image on the Israeli separation wall cutting off the West Bank.

Palestinians want the West Bank for a future state, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Most countries consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal, something Israel disputes.

Tamimi’s case drew global attention and Amnesty International said after her conviction that her sentence was at odds with international law, saying imprisonment of a minor must be used only as a last resort for the shortest appropriate period of time.

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Video of the December incident viral, leading Palestinians to view her as a hero standing up to Israel’s occupation.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has praised her and social media has been flooded with support.

But for Israelis, Tamimi is being used by her activist family as a pawn in staged provocations.

They point to a series of previous such incidents involving her, with older pictures of her confronting soldiers widely shared online.

Many Israelis also praised the restraint of the soldiers, who remained calm throughout, though others said her actions merited a tougher response.

Tamimi was arrested in the early hours of December 19, four days after the incident. She was 16 at the time.

Her mother Nariman was also arrested, as was her cousin Nour, who was freed in March.

Israel’s military said the soldiers were in the area on the day of the incident to prevent Palestinians from throwing stones at Israeli motorists.

The video shows the cousins approaching two soldiers and telling them to leave before shoving, kicking and slapping them.

Ahed Tamimi is the most aggressive of the two in the video.

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

They then move backwards after Nariman Tamimi becomes involved.

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

Relatives say that a member of the Tamimi family was wounded in the head by a rubber bullet fired during those protests.

Reuters, Agence France-Presse, Associated Press