An Israeli military judge has ordered the Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi to be held in custody during her trial, possibly for months, despite calls from rights groups for her release.
Ahed was arrested last month after a viral video showed her hitting two Israeli soldiers. The teenager’s mother has also been ordered to be held until the trial in the high-profile case that has put the family at the centre of a propaganda war between Israelis and Palestinians.
“I found no alternative other than to order her detention in custody until the end of proceedings,” the judge ruled, referring to 16-year-old Ahed. “The gravity of the offences of which she is accused does not allow an alternative to custody.”
Ahed has been hailed as a hero by Palestinians who see her as bravely standing up to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. Israelis accuse her family of using her as a pawn in staged provocations.
She has been charged with 12 counts, including assault, and could face a lengthy jail term if convicted. The charges relate to events in the video and five other incidents. They include stone-throwing, incitement and making threats.
The judge’s decision on Wednesday raises the possibility she could spend months in custody before the conclusion of her case.
Representatives from the French and Swedish consulates as well as the European Union attended the hearing for Ahed, who sat impassively in a khaki prison jacket.
“The court said that because she is so dangerous there is no possibility of bail,” her lawyer, Gaby Lasky, told reporters.
Human rights groups have criticised the minor’s continued detention since her arrest on 19 December, while the EU has expressed concern. Lasky says her detention violates international child welfare conventions.
Ahed’s mother was arrested over the incident the same day, while her cousin Nour Tamimi, 20, was arrested on 20 December. Nour was released on bail on 5 January.
The accusations against Nariman Tamimi include using Facebook “to incite others to commit terrorist attacks” and participating in the incident on video.
Ahed Tamimi’s family says the 15 December incident that led to the arrests occurred in the yard of their home in Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah in the West Bank.
Israel’s military said the soldiers were in the area to prevent Palestinians from throwing stones at Israeli motorists.
A video shows the cousins approaching two soldiers and telling them to leave before shoving, kicking and slapping them. Ahed is the most aggressive of the two in the video.
The heavily armed soldiers do not respond to what appears to be an attempt to provoke rather than seriously harm them. They then move backwards after Nariman Tamimi becomes involved.
The scuffle took place amid clashes and protests against US president Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Relatives say that a member of the Tamimi family was wounded in the head by a rubber bullet fired during those protests.
Seventeen Palestinians have been killed since Trump’s declaration on 6 December, most of them in clashes with Israeli forces. One Israeli has been shot dead since then.
Ahed has been involved in a series of previous incidents, and older pictures of her confronting soldiers have been widely published.
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has praised her and spoken with her father.
Amnesty International has called on Israel to release her immediately, while the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights has criticised the Israeli authorities.
It said “deprivation of liberty of children shall only be used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, and the best interests of the child are to be a primary consideration”.
The video has led to varied reactions among Israelis. Some have hailed the restraint of the soldiers, but others said the Tamimis’ actions merited a tougher response and called for a heavy sentence.
source: The Guardian