Israel Expelling Two Italian Artists Who Painted Mural of Ahed Tamimi on Separation Wall

The two were released and ordered to leave the country within 72 hours

A mural painted on Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on July 29, 2018.
AFP

Israel is expelling two Italian graffiti artists who were painting a mural of Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian teenager released Sunday from Israeli prison, on the separation barrier in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

The two, arrested Saturday, were questioned and then transferred to the Interior Ministry, which decided to revoke their tourist visas and to order them to leave the country within 72 hours, the Border Police said.

A Palestinian man who was arrested with the two was also released.

An artist paints a mural depicting Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi, Bethlehem, West Bank July 25, 2018.
\ MUSSA ISSA QAWASMA/ REUTERS
Artists painting a mural depicting Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi.
\ MUSSA ISSA QAWASMA/ REUTERS

Tamimi, 17, from Nabi Saleh in the West Bank, turned into a protest icon after she was filmed slapping an Israeli soldier. She was detained for three months before being sentenced in March to eight months in jail after reaching a plea deal.

"The resistance will continue until the end of the occupation," Tamimi said upon her release. After briefly addressing reporters, Tamimi met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at his office in Ramallah.

At a press conference Nabi Saleh, Tamimi, who is under probation, refrained from saying whether she would slap the Israeli soldier again, but was vocal about issues ranging from the demolition of a Bedouin village to the Gaza protests to Israel's nation-state law.

"Ahed Tamimi is a role model and an example of the popular Palestinian struggle for liberty and independence," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said during a reception for Tamimi.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulated Tamimi on her release in a phone call, lauding "her bravery and determination to fight."

Tamimi's father, Bassem Tamimi, said that the family was aware that she has become a symbol for the Palestinian people, including the youth, and she intends to visit many Palestinian cities, including Bethlehem, in the days after her release.

"Tamimi's long detention stemmed from political motives than from legal reasons," Tamimi's lawyer Gaby Lasky said on Thursday, adding "legal proceedings are not intended to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and instead of sending minors to prison for resisting the occupation, the time has come for a courageous leadership to free us all from the chains of the occupation."