Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian teenager convicted of assaulting an Israeli soldier, was released on Sunday morning after serving her sentence of eight months.
"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.
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.
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.
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“The messages I am leaving with the prisoners with are that the popular struggle against the occupation will continue,” she said, “and I convey a message that the prisoners call for Palestinian national unity, as well as a call for support for the residents of Khan al-Ahmar and the residents of Gaza and support for the continuation of the March of Return.”
“Al-Quds [the Arabic term for Jerusalem] was and will remain the capital of the Palestinian people, and that the Palestinian people is the foundation for the struggle for its freedom,” she said.
Tamimi went further, advocating for a boycott of Israeli media. “I do not answer questions for Israeli media because I cannot speak for the Israeli media and its conduct.”
As part of her agreement, Tamimi pleaded guilty to four counts of assault, including the videotaped slapping of an Israeli soldier. In addition to the eight month jail sentence, she was to pay a fine of 5,000 shekels ($1,437).
"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 was arrested in December, a day after a video of her punching, slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers in a West Bank village went viral.
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."
Her initial January indictment included 12 charges going back to 2016. The indictment included five counts of assault against security forces, including stone throwing. She was charged with assaulting a soldier, threatening a soldier, interfering with a soldier in the line of duty, incitement and throwing objects at a person or property.
Last June, a parole board rejected Tamimi's request for an early release. The Shin Bet security service issued an opinion in the case opposing her release. "The statements she has made about the case indicate her radical ideology, [and] along with the security situation in the area, [this] demonstrates her potential for danger if she receives an early release," the Shin Bet wrote.
The court also convicted Tamimi of incitement over statements she made in the video of the slapping incident: “I hope everyone will participate in the protests because that is the only solution to reach a result. Our strength is in our rocks and I hope that the entire world will unite to liberate Palestine because Trump announced a decision and they need to bear responsibility for every response that will come from us – Whether it is a stabbing attack or suicide bombing or throwing rocks, everyone needs to do something and unite in order for our message to reach those who want to liberate Palestine."
DPA contributed to this report