After jailing of Palestinian teen, UK slams Israel for treatment of children

Ahed Tamimi, the 16-year-old Palestinian girl who was filmed slapping an IDF soldier near her home in Nabi Salih in December, was sentenced to eight months in prison after reaching a plea bargain with the prosecution on Wednesday. She was also fined $1,430 (€1,157). The lawyer of young woman, Gaby Lasky, has agreed this Wednesday with military prosecutor's office closure of her defendant in exchange for her pleading guilty to four of twelve charges she initially faced and paying a penalty of 5,000 shequels (1,164 euros). Since her arrest, Ahed has become the subject of dozens of solidarity campaigns across the world demanding her release from Israeli prison, and an end to Israeli detention of Palestinian children. The video evoked polarized reactions, with much of the Israeli camp expressing outrage that she and her cousin were not arrested on the spot, and much of the Palestinian camp cheering her aggressive resistance of what they view as Israeli occupation.

Israelis soldiers arrest Palestinian teen Mahmoud Hatem Abu Ali Ayoub from Jenin refugee camp. That's what justice looks like under the occupation's legal regime.

In Thursday's interview, Lasky suggested that, if the trial had been carried out correctly, Tamimi would have been released after a few days of pre-trial detention, like other family members who were arrested in the same incident. In almost all cases brought against Palestinian minors, the defendant ends up signing a plea bargain, said Yael Stein, research director for B'Tselem who wrote the report.

The video, viewed millions of times on social networks, prompted an outcry from the Israeli public at the supposed humiliation of a heavily armed soldier, tasked with enforcing his nation's military rule over Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank, backing away from a physical confrontation with a 16-year-old girl.

Her case has become a cause célèbre in Israel and overseas, with critics accusing her and her family of orchestrating a PR campaign to discredit Israel, and supporters, mostly on the left, saying Israel is persecuting juveniles under the guise of security.

The court ordered the trial closed because Ahed was being tried as a minor, as is usual in such cases.

Human Rights Watch also condemned the sentencing. He argued that holding the trial in secret would be in the best interests of the teenager, though her family and lawyer said it was not.

According to Palestinian prisoners rights group Addameer, 6,119 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prison as of February, 330 of whom are children.

Ahed Tamimi is the more aggressive of the two in the video.

Yoav Mordechai, the general who oversees COGAT, the bureaucratic arm of Israel's military occupation, claimed that the injury to Muhammad Tamimi's head was caused not by an Israeli soldier's bullet, but by the child falling off his bike - an outlandish story soon debunked by journalists and human rights defenders.

According to worldwide human rights law, the detention of children should only be a measure of last resort and for the least time possible.

  • Tracy Klein