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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 August 2018

Jailed Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi to be released

The young girl has spent eight months in detention after slapping soldier on camera

A foreign artist paints a mural of Palestinian Ahed Tamimi on the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, 25 July 2018. EPA
A foreign artist paints a mural of Palestinian Ahed Tamimi on the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, 25 July 2018. EPA

Ahed Tamimi, the 17-year-old girl who the Palestinians have revered as a symbol of resistance for standing up to Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, is expected to be released on Sunday, her father has confirmed.

An Israeli military court jailed her for eight months in March after she was filmed slapping an Israeli soldier in front of her home in the territory where Israel upholds a military occupation and a network of Jewish outposts deemed illegal under international law.

Her relatives, in interviews with The National, describe their anguish at her detention and relief that she will soon be free.

“She's in good health,” Bassem Tamimi, her 51-year-old father, said. “I am happy she will be released. I am waiting for that moment.”

He says that Israel will not “tell us” when she will be released on Sunday.

The actions of the teenager, then aged 16-years-old, in December came just hours after Israeli soldiers shot her cousin in the face with a rubber bullet. Her mother Nariman live-streamed the confrontation as Ms Tamimi, draped in a keffiyeh, slapped and screamed at one of the soldiers.

The incident went global as Israel moved to her arrest her in a nighttime raid. It also detained and charged her mother and 20-year-old cousin Nour. Nariman is also set to be released on Sunday.

Bassem says his daughter will continue to resist the occupation as Israel’s soldiers had failed in frightening her to stop her protesting against Israeli violations in the West Bank.

“Is there a choice? When you are resisting you resist. The occupation means that there is legal resistance on the other side.”

Her first address to her people will take place at a press conference in the family’s West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.

The Palestinians are at pains to use the young girl’s case to shine a light on the discrimination of Israel’s military legal system that has jailed dozens of minors and delivered a lack of justice for many Palestinians. According to Israeli NGO B’TSelem, 291 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli prisons as security detainees by the end of May 2018, including three administrative detainees, meaning they have been held without being told their charges or without trial.

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Read more:

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi freed after eight months in Israeli prison

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In Jerusalem and the West Bank, many Palestinians point to the case of Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who served just a few weeks longer in prison than Ms Tamimi after he was caught on video shooting dead a prone Palestinian attacker in the West Bank city of Hebron in 2016.

“We hope to show the stories of other children also,” says Bilal Tamimi, the 52-year-old cousin of the imprisoned girl’s mother.

“Ahed is not the only child who resisted and was arrested. There are many children who go through the same or even worse situation,” he added. “We hope Ahed's case will make the world concentrate to see that all Palestinian children are living in this situation.”

Ahmad Tibi, the most popular Palestinian politician in Israel and lawmaker for the Arab Joint List, the country’s third-biggest party, calls Ms Tamimi an “icon of resistance” who “symbolises the spirit” of the young Palestinian generation to end “oppression”. But he reminds that there are “thousands of Palestinians and tens of childrens” who remain in Israeli detention, many without a fair hearing.

While other young Palestinians languish in Israeli prisons, the teenage girl’s release will represent a moment of celebration for the Palestinians.

In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, a giant mural of the teenager, around four metres high, has been painted onto the Israeli occupation wall that separates the town from the settlements ahead of her release.

“Everyone is waiting to be with her,” says her father. “We are preparing our hearts, our emotions, our home.”

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