JERUSALEM (JTA) — Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teen arrested in part for slapping and harassing Israeli soldiers standing guard in a West Bank Palestinian village, will spend eight months in prison under a plea deal.
The teen has spent the last four months in prison after being arrested in the middle of the night at her home in the flashpoint village of Nabi Saleh. She reportedly will plead guilty to four counts of assault, including the one in which she slapped a soldier in front of her house, which was videotaped and went viral on social media.
The military court must still approve the deal reached with the military prosecutor.
Her case has become a cause célèbre in Israel and abroad, with critics accusing her and her family of orchestrating a PR campaign to discredit Israel, and supporters, mostly on the left, saying Israel is persecuting juveniles under the guise of security.
Ahed, 17, was charged with 12 counts, including aggravated assault, hindering a soldier in the line of duty, incitement, threatening a soldier’s life and rock throwing. The indictment covers six incidents in recent months in which she was involved in altercations with Israeli soldiers, including the Dec. 15 slapping incident.
When her trial opened in mid-February, the judge closed the courtroom, citing the defendant’s status as a minor, ordering out journalists and diplomats who had been present to observe the proceedings. An appeal to open the courtroom was rejected last week.
Ahed’s mother, Nariman, also was arrested and charged over her involvement in the slapping incident, in which she filmed Ahed with a cellphone camera calling on her fellow Palestinians to stab Israelis, throw rocks at them and offer themselves as suicide bombers in order to “liberate Palestine.” Nariman Tamimi also was charged with incitement to terrorism on Facebook for posting the video of the incident. She reportedly also has accepted a plea bargain.
Some 27 American cultural figures, including actors, civil rights leaders and sports figures, signed an open letter last month calling for Ahed’s release and supporting a bill introduced late last year in the U.S. House of Representatives called the “Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act.”
Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East division of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement: “Ahed will be home in a few months, but Israel is putting this child behind bars for eight months for calling for protests and slapping a soldier, after threatening her with years in jail. Plea bargains are the norm in Israel’s military justice system, which is characterized by prolonged pretrial detention, abuse of kids and sham trials. Hundreds of Palestinian children remain locked up with little attention on their cases.”