Palestinian teen who slapped Israeli soldier released from prison and returned to West Bank


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teen arrested in part for slapping and harassing Israeli soldiers standing guard in a West Bank Palestinian village, was released from prison.

Tamimi, 17, and her mother, who also was jailed for incitement, were released early Sunday morning and taken by Israeli officials to the West Bank checkpoint of Jabbara, located south of Tulkarm near their hometown of Nabi Saleh.

She was then taken by convoy to Ramallah to lay a wreath on the grave of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. While in Ramallah, Tamimi and her family met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who praised her as “a model of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, independence and statehood,” the official Palestinian Wafa news agency reported.

The teen was sentenced in March to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of assault, including the one in which she slapped a soldier in front of her house that was videotaped and went viral on social media. She spent three months in jail prior to her plea bargain. Tamimi reportedly completed high school while in prison and had begun applying to colleges.

She initially had been 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 covered six incidents in recent months in which she was involved in altercations with Israeli soldiers, including the Dec. 15 slapping incident.

Tamimi’s mother, Nariman, also was arrested and charged over her involvement in the slapping incident, in which she filmed her daughter 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.

At a news conference on Sunday afternoon in her hometown, Tamimi thanked “everyone who has stood with me while I was in prison” and praised her mother, saying that “her ability to remain strong is what helped me endure.”

“My message here is that our resistance will continue, particularly our resistance for equal rights,” she said, and also “I want to also reiterate the message that Jerusalem is and will always be the capital of Palestine.”

Tamimi said that with the completion of her high school studies, she intends to study law “and focus on holding the occupation accountable.”

On Saturday, Israeli Border Police detained two Italian artists who painted a large mural of Tamimi on the West Bank security barrier in Bethlehem.

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