TEL AVIV — The trial of Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian teenager turned protest symbol who hit Israeli soldiers in a viral video, has begun in a military court in the West Bank.
Her trial, expected to take months, has sparked immense public interest and as well as some international condemnation of the minor’s imprisonment.
Seventeen-year-old Tamimi faces 12 charges, including assault and incitement.
Palestinians see Tamimi as a hero who opposes Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, while Israel says she is an agitator who attempts to provoke soldiers on film as part of a Palestinian PR campaign.
In the December 15 video, the teenager is seen slapping and punching two Israeli soldiers who entered the driveway of the family’s home during a protest in Tamimi’s hometown of Nabi Saleh.
International human rights groups, the European Union, and others have criticized Israel’s handling of Tamimi, which has placed scrutiny on the Israeli military court system that Palestinian youths face in the West Bank.
“Yet again, the Israeli authorities have responded to acts of defiance by a Palestinian child with measures that are entirely disproportionate to the incident in question,” Magdalena Mughrabi a deputy director for Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
Over 300 Palestinian minors are being held in Israeli jails according to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem. Israel cites security considerations for the detentions and Palestinian youths have carried out stabbing attacks on Israelis in recent years.
Tamimi’s case is connected to Nabi Saleh, which has staged weekly demonstrations since 2009, after the Israeli army restricted Palestinian access to nearby lands, making way for Jewish settlers in the area. Members of the Tamimi family, which numbers in the hundreds, have died and been arrested in the protests and Israeli commentators have accused them of placing minors in harm’s way.