Israel Will Not Release Palestinian Teen Who Slapped Soldier Until Trial's End

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Sixteen-year-old Ahed Tamimi stands for a hearing in the military court at Ofer military prison in the West Bank village of Betunia on January 1, 2018.
Sixteen-year-old Ahed Tamimi stands for a hearing in the military court at Ofer military prison in the West Bank village of Betunia on January 1, 2018. Credit: AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP

An Israeli military appeals court ruled Wednesday that Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teen who appeared in a video slapping an IDF soldier, will not be released until the legal proceedings against her conclude.

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Tamimi, the 16-year-old girl from Nabi Saleh in the West Bank, is charged with five counts of assaulting security forces and with incitement. Her mother is accused of photographing two incidents and incitement on social media.

Military judge Maj. Haim Baliti rejected Tamimi's appeal to be released from detention while she waits for her trial. In his arguments, he noted that the Supreme Court has emphasized that freedom of expression does not permit disturbing the peace or committing violence, and that the defense was wrong in equating her incendiary actions to social activist protests. The evidence against Tamimi, he added, is solid.

"The initiative she showed and the extent and severity of the violence used attest to the risks she poses. Her young age is a factor in considering her petition, but despite this and with regard to considerations of rehabilitation, there are no effective alternatives to detention and none were presented,” said Baliti.

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The judge also noted that Ahed had been involved in a long list of previous offenses, and that the time elapsed since they took place is of no consequence. “This is a person who has been involved in attacking soldiers and threatening them on many occasions, as well as in expressing inflammatory language. I have no choice but to order her detention until the end of her trial.”

Last week, the court ruled to release Ahed's cousin Nur Tamimi, saying she must "remain within the conditions of her release as imposed by the court, including posting bail and a guarantor."

According to Ahed's attorney Gaby Lasky, the incident does not warrant a such a long detention. As she told Haaretz on Monday, they held her to find material from past incidents, and indeed they filed an indictment concerning events that occurred a year and a half ago and earlier, which had gone unreported until her current arrest. There were no complaints or reports about them.

In response to the ruling, Israeli anti-occupation organization Betselem said that the hearing is a "clear example - one of many - of the way the military justice system is not a tool for justice, but rather a central mechanism of repression in the service of Israeli control of Palestinians in the territories."

Ahed's cousin Nur Tamimi was indicted on charges of aggravated assault and for interfering with a soldier in carrying out his duties on Monday. She was arrested alongside her cousin, Ahed, and Ahed's mother, Nariman. Nur is the only of the three without priors.

Last Thursday, the military court ordered Nur released and extended the detention of Ahed and Nuriman. However, the court delayed Nur's release until Sunday to allow the military prosecution to appeal the release. Nur is the only one of the three to whom the army does not attribute previous acts of violence. 

Bassem Tamimi speaks out about his daughter's arrest for slapping an Israeli soldier

The video clip shows which led to Nur and Ahed Tamimi's arrest shows the two slapping a soldier and trying to kick him, to provoke a response. After the first soldier she harassed did not respond violently, Ahed kicked him and slapped him. After that she approached the second soldier standing nearby and tried to strike him as well. Then Nur joined in and pushed the soldiers, while Ahed continued to attack them. The two soldiers did not respond, either by striking them or chasing them away.

Against the backdrop of life under the occupation and the usual pictures of violence between Palestinians and soldiers, these were hope-inspiring sights, which is how they were perceived around the world.

Many people in Israel saw things differently. Instead of restraint and self-control, the right wing saw frailty, cowardice and weakness. Following this criticism the army arrested the Tamimi girls.