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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 August 2018

Israel arrests Italian graffiti artists in West Bank

The two Italian graffiti artists were painting a mural of jailed teenager Ahed Tamimi

An Italian artist paints a mural of Palestinian Ahed Tamimi on the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. EPA
An Italian artist paints a mural of Palestinian Ahed Tamimi on the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. EPA

Israeli border police on Saturday arrested two Italian graffiti artists who were painting a mural of a jailed Palestinian teenager, Ahed Tamimi, on the Israeli separation barrier in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, according to Palestinian officials.

A video posted to social media shows armed soldiers ordering the two men, along with a Palestinian activist, to get out of a car next to the separation barrier. They are led away through an opening in the barrier.

Ahed, now 17, and her mother Nariman were arrested in December, after Ahed slapped two Israeli soldiers outside the family home and Nariman filmed the incident and posted it on Facebook. Both are to be released Sunday.

Ms Tamimi became a heroine to Palestinians after the December 15th incident outside her home in the village of Nabi Saleh was streamed live on Facebook by her mother and went viral.

Ahed's father Bassem said Saturday that after her release from prison, "we expect her to lead and we will support her to lead" in the fight to end occupation. He did not say what this would entail.

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An Israeli police spokesman did not return a call for comment.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation said on Twitter that Israeli forces had arrested the two Italian artists and a Palestinian who was with them.

Israel maintains control over most of the West Bank, where the Palestinians have limited self-rule.

Most countries consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal, something Israel disputes.

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