Ahed Tamimi, Palestinian teen who slapped and punched soldiers, goes on trial

Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi enters a military courtroom escorted by Israeli security personnel at Ofer Prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah

Ms Tamimi's father, Bassem, said he arrived at the trial "with no good expectations, because this a military court, and it's part of the Israeli military occupation".

Ahed Tamimi's family says the December 15 incident that led to the arrests occurred in the yard of their home in Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah in the West Bank.

Ahed Tamimi was detained in a night raid in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh nearly two months ago, after video circulated showing her and a cousin slapping and shoving two heavily armed Israeli soldiers following an incident in which a soldier had shot in the head and seriously injured their 15-year-old cousin Muhammad Tamimi.

Tamimi, who is now 17 years old, has been held in detention since she was arrested at her home by Israeli soldiers on 19 December 2017.

A large crowd of local and global journalists had shown up to cover the trial of Tamimi, who has become something of an icon for Palestinians and supporters of their cause worldwide.

Outside court, Tamimi's lawyer Gaby Lasky said her family wanted the case to be heard in public, but the judge had ordered the numerous journalists present to be removed from the courtroom for the proceedings because she was a minor.

But Tamimi's lawyer, Gaby Lasky, criticized the decision saying, "It's odd that the court decided - after sending Ahed into detention until the end of her trial and after her name had already been publicized - that it is in her interests to conduct the trial far off from public view". At a previous hearing, the military court at the Ofer army base in the West Bank ordered her held until the end of proceedings.

Ms Tamimi, who turned 17 while in detention, has become an icon for the Palestinian struggle against Israel's occupation of the West Bank. For Palestinians, the young teen is a symbol of resistance to Israeli occupation, but many Israelis regard her as a violent troublemaker seeking publicity. She was arrested, and now faces charges of aggravated assault, obstructing the work of soldiers, and incitement. Tamimi has been charged with assaulting an IDF soldier and other offense. Protests often ended in stone-throwing clashes.

Ahed Tamimi, Palestinian teen who slapped and punched soldiers, goes on trial
Ahed Tamimi, Palestinian teen who slapped and punched soldiers, goes on trial

The experts called on the Israeli authorities to respect and ensure basic due process rights, with particular attention to the rights and protections afforded to children and re-emphasized their call for Tamimi to be released in accordance with these protections.

The next session in the case was set for March 11.

Ahed Tamimi, who comes from a family of anti-Israel activists, is standing trial for the incident in the video and five other incidents including rock throwing, incitement and making threats.

It is not uncommon for Israelis - including soldiers - to accidentally enter Palestinian-controlled areas. One photo shows the then 12-year-old raising a clenched fist toward a soldier towering over her.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Israel has ratified, states that minors can only be deprived of liberty as a last resort and for the shortest appropriate time, said Michael Lynk, a United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, in a statement.

Ahed Tamimi's father Bessem Tamimi stated: "We need the people and the audience with us to see what happens because we do not trust this court, and we do not trust this system".

The heavily armed soldiers do not respond to what appears to be an attempt to provoke rather than seriously harm them.

The extended Tamimi family has been involved in conflict with Israeli authorities over the years. The recent incident of her slapping a soldier was recorded and went viral on social media.

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