Ahed Tamimi has been incarcerated since she was arrested on December 19, four days after she was filmed confronting soldiers outside her West Bank home
Ofer Military Base, West Bank: The closely watched trial of a Palestinian girl for slapping and punching two Israeli occupation soldiers opened before an Israeli military court in the West Bank on Tuesday, but the judge ordered all proceedings to be held behind closed doors in a case that has drawn wide criticism of the Israeli regime for prosecuting the teenager.
Ahed Tamimi, 17, appeared fresh and confident as she entered the packed courtroom. She briefly whispered to relatives in the back of the room before the judge ordered everyone except her family out.
“Stay strong! Stay strong!” shouted her father, Bassem Tamimi.
Ahed Tamimi has been incarcerated since she was arrested on December 19, four days after she was filmed confronting the soldiers outside her West Bank home.
Israel has treated her actions as a criminal offence, indicting her on charges of assault and incitement that could potentially lead to years in prison.
But Ahed Tamimi’s supporters see a brave girl who struck two armed soldiers outside her West Bank home in frustration after having just learned that Israeli occupation troops seriously wounded a 15-year-old cousin, shooting him in the head from close range with a rubber-coated steel bullet during nearby stone-throwing clashes.
The teen with the large curly mane of blond hair, who turned 17 in jail last month, has become the latest symbol of the long-running battle between Palestinians and Israelis over global public opinion.
Israel’s full-throttle prosecution of Tamimi, one of an estimated 300 Palestinian minors in Israeli jails, and a senior Israeli official’s recent revelation that he once had parliament investigate whether the blond, blue-eyed Tamimis are a “real” Palestinian family have helped stoke ongoing interest in the case.
International human rights groups have criticised the aggressive prosecution, and diplomats from the European Union and several European countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, attended Tuesday’s hearing as observers before they were kicked out along with journalists.
In his decision, the judge, Lt. Col. Menachem Lieberman, said the trial would remain closed for Tamimi’s own protection. “I didn’t think it’s good for the minor that there are 100 people in the courtroom,” he said.
Tamimi’s Israeli lawyer, Gaby Lasky, objected, saying the family wants the proceedings to be public. She accused the court of closing the proceedings to prevent the world from watching.
“The court decided what is best for the court, and not what is good for Ahed,” she said. “The way to keep it out of everybody’s eyes is to close doors and not allow people inside the court for the hearing.”
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 non-violently.”
Earlier in the day, Tamimi’s father told The Associated Press as he headed into the court that he came “with no good expectations, because this a military court, and it’s part of the Israeli military occupation.”