A military judge has ruled that a Palestinian teenager who was filmed slapping two Israeli soldiers will be held in custody until her trial.
Ahed Tamimi, 16, was arrested in December on 12 charges including assault, stone throwing and incitement, after a video of her slapping the two soldiers went viral.
“I found no alternative other than to order her detention in custody until the end of proceedings,” the judge ruled. “The gravity of the offences of which she is accused do not allow an alternative to custody.”
The charges relate to the video and two other incidents, and could result in her spending years in jail, as well as months as she waits for her trial.
Ahed has been hailed as a heroine of the Palestinian cause since 2012, when videos of her confronting soldiers in Nabi Saleh, in the occupied West Bank, went viral.
The teenager’s home village is noted for weekly protests against the occupation and the control of local water resources by Israeli settlements. It is frequently the site of confrontations between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian villagers.
Dozens from the Tamimi family have been arrested and at least two killed by Israeli security forces, and the week before Ahed was detained her cousin was hit in the face by a rubber bullet.
Ahed’s father Bassem Tamimi has said her actions were the natural result of occupation and of being upset by the incident, which left 15-year-old Mohammed in a coma and missing part of his skull.
“I feel that the shape of the soldier and his uniform is more violence than her hand when she slapped because he is a face and the shape of killing, arresting, injuring, shooting, harming the life,” he said.
Israel has said the soldiers were in Nabi Saleh to stop Palestinians throwing stones at Israeli motorists, and have accused Ahed of deliberately provoking soldiers in an attempt to attract international attention.
Dr Michael Oren MK, the deputy minister for diplomacy in the Prime Minister’s office, has questioned whether the Tamimis are even a “real family”.
“Present always are cameras to record this and the idea is to go out and punch, slap, curse at soldiers and get them to react, hopefully violently. That would be captured on camera and then that is broadcast abroad,” he said.
Rights advocates have condemned Israel’s treatment of Ahed and organisations including Amnesty International have demanded her immediate release.
“Ahed Tamimi’s ensuing arrest and military trial exposes the Israeli authorities’ discriminatory treatment of Palestinian children who dare to stand up to ongoing, often brutal, repression by occupying forces,” Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy director for Middle East and North Africa, said.
Critics also highlight Ahed’s trial taking place in a juvenile military court, which they say does not protect the rights of minors or guarantee a fair trial.
“Ahed’s detention and prosecution in Israel’s military court system is not exceptional, but provides a clear example of how Israeli military law and military courts are used to control an occupied Palestinian population,” Brad Parker, a lawyer at Defense for Children International, told Sky News.
Children like Ahed may be exposed to physical violence and harsh interrogations including being blindfolded or sleep deprivation, he said.
While Israeli settlers in the West Bank are tried in Israeli courts, hundreds of Palestinian children are tried under military orders every year according to Amnesty.