Israel Releases Palestinian Teen Protester From Prison

Jul 30, 2018
Originally published on August 1, 2018 7:15 am
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NOEL KING, HOST:

A 17-year-old Palestinian activist is back home in the West Bank after serving eight months in prison. Ahed Tamimi is not the only young Palestinian who's been jailed by Israel. But her case drew attention because video of her altercation with Israeli soldiers went viral. She was then embraced as an icon by many Palestinians and their supporters. NPR's Daniel Estrin has this from the West Bank.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AHED TAMIMI: (Foreign language spoken).

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: This is the video that landed Ahed Tamimi in jail. She was filmed kicking and hitting two Israeli soldiers standing in her driveway at her home in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The soldiers walked away. But when Tamimi's mom posted the video on Facebook, there was a public outcry in Israel. Mom and daughter were arrested. They were sentenced to eight months in prison for assaults and encouraging violence. On Sunday, they were released.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

TAMIMI: (Foreign language spoken).

ESTRIN: Power to the people, the young Tamimi told reporters and activists at a press conference in her village of Nabi Salih. The people can decide the way they wish to resist. Tamimi has long been known for her defiance of Israel's military occupation. As a young girl, a video went viral showing her in a standoff with a soldier about twice her size. Her family's activism has drawn attention online from supporters around the world. Portraits of her, recognizable with her long, frizzy hair, had been made into posters. But her trial was closed to the press. Israeli Gaby Lasky is her lawyer.

GABY LASKY: The Israeli authorities wanted to keep down her voice or wanted to keep her trial in closed doors although Ahed and her family, they wanted to have an open trial.

ESTRIN: Many Israelis see Tamimi as a professional provocateur and say no one should get away with hitting soldiers. Some Israeli politicians have called her a terrorist. Tamimi's supporters see her as a leader of what they call popular resistance, not the armed uprising of the early 2000s but unarmed protests against Israeli troops, including throwing stones toward soldiers. Tamimi met Sunday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose popularity is low because he hasn't delivered independence through peace negotiations. Ahed Tamimi says she plans to study law to defend the rights of her people. A reporter asked her if she'd do it again, confront soldiers in the way she did that led to her arrest.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TAMIMI: (Foreign language spoken).

ESTRIN: She said she couldn't say much for fear of rearrest. But she said, I hope that the occupation will be gone so I won't even think about doing these things again. Israel's military occupation continues now in its 51st year. Daniel Estrin, NPR News, Nabi Salih in the West Bank.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.