Trial begins for Palestinian accused of assaulting Israeli soldiers

Crossing

In a video clip, which quickly went viral, Ms Tamimi is seen kicking, slapping and punching two Israeli soldiers in full combat gear, in her home village of Nabi Saleh, where regular Palestinian protests take place against settlement encroachment.

The closely watched trial of a Palestinian girl who slapped and punched two Israeli soldiers opened before an Israeli military court on Tuesday, but the judge ordered proceedings to be held behind closed doors in a case that has drawn wide criticism of Israel for prosecuting the teenager.

Tamimi's mother, Nariman, and her cousin Nour, 20, were also due to go on trial later Tuesday.

The judge reportedly made a decision to close the doors to the courtroom in the Ofer courthouse to everyone except Tamimi's family. Her mother, Nariman, is standing trial for attacking an officer, as well incitement to violence on social media.

The high-profile trial of Tamimi, one of an estimated 300 Palestinian minors in Israeli jails, has become the latest arena for the long-running battle between Palestinians and Israelis over global public opinion.

"They understand that people outside Ofer military court are interested in Ahed's case, they understand that her rights are being infringed and her trial is something that shouldn't be happening", Gaby Lasky, Tamimi's lawyer, said in a statement after her proposal for an open trial was shot down. "So the way to keep it out of everybody's eyes is to close the doors".

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"None of the facts of this case would appear to justify her ongoing detention prior to her trial, particularly given the concerns expressed by the Committee on the Rights of the Child about the use of pre-trial detention and detention on remand", Lynk said.

Israel has treated her actions as a criminal offense, indicting her on charges of assault and incitement that could potentially lead to years in prison.

On 1 January 2018, Tamimi was charged with a number of offences under Israeli military law, some stemming from the 15 December incident, and others dating back to April 2016.

"By refusing to release Ahed Tamimi since her arrest, the Israeli authorities have shown nothing but contempt for their obligations under worldwide law to protect children", said Magdalena Mughrabi from Amnesty global.

Ahed's lawyer accuses the military of breaking the United Nations convention on the rights of a child during her nighttime arrest and interrogation, during which she says Ahed was threatened. If charged as an adult, she could face 10 years in prison.

Amnesty International called on Israel to immediately release Ms Tamimi, saying "the arrest of a child must be used only as a last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time".

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Michael Sfard, an Israeli human rights lawyer, said that Israeli military law "is set up to label every act of resistance, violent or nonviolent, as criminal" and that the military court system is just another branch of an occupying army.

"The Israeli military supposes by arresting Ahed Tamimi they can silence their activism", said Fadi Quran, a senior campaigner with the activist group Avaaz.

"Human rights organizations must investigate!" Tamimi was taken into custody in the middle of the night by Israeli forces three days after video footage was released of Tamimi's altercation with soldiers.

Mohammed Tamimi, a cousin of Ahed, was seriously wounded by a rubber bullet fired at his head during those protests.

"While our struggles may be unique, the parallels can not be ignored", they add, noting that U.S. police, border patrol and other law enforcement "train with Israeli soldiers, police, and border agents, utilizing similar repressive profiling tactics to target and harass our communities".

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