Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi on trial for striking Israeli soldier agrees to plea deal

Tamimi arrives for the beginning of her trial at an Israeli military court in February 2018.
Tamimi arrives for the beginning of her trial at an Israeli military court in February 2018.PHOTO: AFP

OFER PRISON, West Bank (REUTERS) - A teenage Palestinian girl who was filmed kicking and slapping an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank accepted a plea deal on Wednesday (March 21) under which she will be sentenced to eight months in prison, her lawyer said.

Ahed Tamimi, 17, became a hero to Palestinians after the Dec. 15 incident outside her home in the village of Nabi Saleh was streamed live on Facebook by her mother and went viral.

The soldiers had deployed during a weekly Palestinian protest in the village against Israeli policy on settlements in the West Bank, one of the most heated issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Tamimi's attorney Gaby Lasky said the deal has yet to be presented to the court in Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Tamimi was 16 at the time of the offence. Her trial began last month and she faced 12 charges, including aggravated assault.

Lasky said that under the plea agreement, Tamimi would plead guilty to a reduced charge sheet and would be sentenced to eight months in jail.

Tamimi's mother, Nariman, and a cousin were also arrested. Both have accepted plea bargains, a family lawyer said.

 

The case drew global attention. Amnesty International called Tamimi the "Rosa Parks of Palestine", and the small courtroom was often packed with journalists, diplomats and international observers during hearings, in which Tamimi was led into court in shackles.

A group of American cultural figures, including actors Danny Glover and Rosario Dawson and novelist Alice Walker, signed a petition calling for her release and comparing her case to those of "the children of immigrants and communities of colour who face police brutality in the United States".

The incident prompted criticism from right-wing Israelis that the military looked weak by allowing the teenager to strike a soldier and an officer with impunity.

"The honour of Israel's army cannot be trampled" Israeli Culture minister Miri Regev said on her Facebook page after the incident. "We cannot have a situation in which soldiers are humiliated and hit and they do not act at that moment and arrest those who hurt them."

The army said the soldier "acted professionally" by showing restraint.

Tamimi's family are veterans of protests against an Israeli settlement near their home in Nabi Saleh. An Israeli watchtower stands at the entrance to the village and there are often soldiers in the area.

"When the European people see my daughter, blonde and blue-eyed, they are shaken, because they saw their children in front of them. It broke the stereotyped image of the Palestinian in the international community," Tamimi's father, Bassem Tamimi told Reuters.

Palestinians want the West Bank for a future state, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Most countries consider as illegal the Israeli settlements built in the territory which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel disputes that its settlements are illegal and says their future should be determined in peace talks with the Palestinians. Negotiations collapsed 2014 and efforts by the White House to restart them have showed little progress so far.