Feb 13, 2018, 4:10 PM ET

Trial of Palestinian teenager who slapped Israeli officer closed to press

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Behind closed doors at the Israeli Ofer Military Base in the West Bank, Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teenager who slapped an Israeli soldier, appeared in an Israeli military court Tuesday morning.

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Minutes after Ahed was brought into the courtroom Tuesday, Military Judge Lt. Col. Menachem Lieberman told the crowd of journalists, diplomats and non-profit group representatives they could not stay. He made the trial private on the grounds that Ahed is a minor, though that status has been under debate.

"I don't see how it's in the minor's interest that a 100 people are here all the time,” he said. “Her family can stay. Everyone else must leave."

The curly-haired teenage girl, who is 17, has garnered harsh criticism and has bitterly divided public opinion. Human rights organizations, the European Union and United Nations have all voiced their concern.

PHOTO: Palestinian protest icon Ahed Tamimi is in a courtroom at the Ofer military prison near Jerusalem, Feb. 13, 2018. Ariel Schalit/AP
Palestinian protest icon Ahed Tamimi is in a courtroom at the Ofer military prison near Jerusalem, Feb. 13, 2018.

Ahed's Israeli lawyer Gaby Lasky protested today's decision to remove observers from the court.

"My client's arrest was filmed by the army and police, despite being a minor," Lasky told the judge. "So I think the media should stay here now. It's for her protection."

"The court decided what is best for the court, and not what is good for Ahed," Lasky said, according to The Associated Press. "The way to keep it out of everybody's eyes is to close doors and not allow people inside the court for the hearing."

Ahed's fight has become symbolic of the next generation of Palestinian resistance, many Palestinians hail Ahed as a brave young fighter.

Some pro-Israel blogs have dubbed her "Shirley Temper," and right-wing Israelis accuse her of using social media to distribute propaganda and discredit Israel. One Israeli deputy minister and former ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, even investigated whether the Tamimis were "a real family,” according to Haaretz.

Israel's Culture Minister, Miri Regev weighed in before the trial.

"She is not a little girl, she is a terrorist,” Regev told the AP. "It’s about time they will understand that people like her have to be in jail and not be allowed to incite to racism and subversion against the state of Israel."

Ahed is facing years in jail. She has been charged with twelve offenses, including assaulting security forces and incitement to violence.

She turned 17 two weeks ago in jail, appeared to be in good spirits today, according to journalists who were briefly in the courtroom. Her father, Bassem Tamimi, shouted: “Stay strong! Stay strong! You will win!”

"The military judge decided to have a closed session, justifying it because Ahed is a child," her father Bassem told ABC News today. "But he forgets that you do not put children in jails, so if she is a child she must be free and out of jail."

“The Israeli military occupation does not want diplomats, human right organizations and the press to see and witness the ugly face of the Israeli military occupation," he continued. "This is why he kicked all the international observers out of the military court today."

Representatives from the EU, Norway and Germany were all present Tuesday.

At her bail hearing in January, Human Rights Watch notes that Lasky argued that international human rights law permits the detention of children only as a last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time. But the Israeli military judge ruled that he “did not think the articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child should be viewed as absolute.”

On Monday, Human Rights Watch said "Tamimi’s pre-trial detention – 56 days and counting – is both a violation of international law and unnecessary. Her case raises concerns that Israel’s military justice system, which detains hundreds of Palestinian children every year, is incapable of respecting children’s rights."

Amnesty International has also called for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to free Ahed, and the other 300 other Palestinian minors in Israeli jail cells. The group said that while in detention, "she endured aggressive interrogations, sometimes at night, and threats made against her family."

Ahed is a well-known teenage activist, from a family of well-known activists in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh in the West Bank, which is occupied by Israel. The village has held weekly protests almost every Friday since 2009.

The incident for which she is on trial was captured in a now-viral video, shot and distributed by her family on December 14, 2017. An unarmed Ahed can be seen standing in her driveway facing two heavily armed Israeli soldiers. "Come on, get out," she yells at the soldiers. "Get out of here, don't stay here."

The soldiers don't budge, and she pushes one of the Israeli soldiers, then kicks him in the shins. She goes in again, this time with her right fist, hitting his shoulder. He deflects her. "Don't touch me," she screams in his face and reached up to slap him.

Just before the video was shot, her family says, Ahed had just learned that her 15-year-old cousin, Mohammed, was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier. He required intensive surgery that removed part of his skull in order to dislodge the rubber bullet.

Five days after the incident in her driveway, the Israeli military raided her house at 3 a.m. and released video of her arrest.

Lasky said Tuesday's session ended after prosecutors read the indictment. She told reporters that she did not respond to the charges, and that the next hearing was scheduled for March 11. Ahed's mother, Nariman Tamimi, is also being prosecuted alongside her daughter for the December 14th incident.

ABC News' Nasser Atta reported from Ramallah and Molly Hunter reported from London.

News - Trial of Palestinian teenager who slapped Israeli officer closed to press

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  • Mina

    This was 2017, why was someone filming with a Moto RZR?

  • Keith Bryan

    Their family is lucky the soldiers showed some restraint and didn't shoot em all up when they started hitting and kicking them.

  • Carolyn Bowers

    Lock this monster up and get her some mental help.

  • Hephie

    Every government in the world and every could on the planet with a remit -- including Israel's own High Court of Justice agree that the West Bank is under belligerent foreign occupation. Just as occupied as Paris under the Germans. If the French Resistance had the legal and moral right to slit the throats of Nazi invaders in Occupied Paris, any native son or daughter of the land has the exact same moral and legal right to gut Israeli invaders like fish.

  • kritikosman

    Sounds fishy.

  • Les Sd

    Israeli soldiers should have shown some common sense and left. With arms and such, they needed to leave someone else's property and stop being the bullying invaders. Just because the govt says something supposedly written in something called a bible does not make it so...they need to forget all those magical and superstitional ideas and get back to real life. Still believing in something ignorant people five-thousand years or more ago thought up to control others and/or to give some false sense of hope today is so damn arrogant and denies reason and common sense. Is not this exactly how ISIS gives as its reason for its behavior? Israel's claim to the land reminds me of China's claim to Tibet. History changes things but neither of these two will acknowledge such...they are both so stuck in the past.

  • Puddin Tain

    hmm

  • Pat Dunne

    Any country that brutalizes children and jails 100's every year should not be receiving American foreign AID. Israel is a transgressor of human rights on a scale unequaled in any other country.

  • Bronx

    "At her bail hearing in January, Human Rights Watch notes that Lasky argued that international human rights law permits the detention of children only as a last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time. "

    Smug of them. What society doesn't charge and hold adolescent and teenagers who commit crimes.

    Right here in the US we even declare 11-12 year olds suitable for adult court for adult crimes.

  • Terry Stein

    I dare say that if somebody was occupying America, say the Russians, for example, then you'd be hard pressed to find a teenager not wanting to slap a soldier. The very least they'd want to do.

  • CaptnBlynd

    Not my nation but fine by me if they execute her. Crime and punishment.

  • ralphpetrillo

    She is not a terrorist she is a teenager.
    There are so many teenagers in NYC that slap a police officer and are not called terrorists. Respect her as a teenager who needs to mature.

  • Montana Cowgirl

    So she's going to get a fair trial behind closed doors when a government minister has already called her a "terrorist"? Yeah, right! I think slapping the guy who just shot your brother in the face was a pretty mild response. Maybe I'm a terrorist too.

  • samLion

    Don't slap law enforcement officers. Hope she gets a stiff sentence.

  • 'Til Tuesday

    Sadly, the Jewish people are doing to others what was done to them. Instead of saying "Never again" they've decided to do it again. When you lock people in a camp, strip them of their rights and freedoms, withhold electricity, food and water as collective punishment, and use torture - particularly on women and children, people are going to use any means necessary to gain their freedom from you. Israel has no intention of ever giving the Palestinians their freedom. They will keep them locked up in perpetuity if the world lets them get away with it. All Israel is doing is creating generation after generation of Palestinian young people who will fight for their freedom and do whatever it takes to get it. As George Bush said, you can't stop people from desiring freedom.

  • Brian 9876

    Amed Tamimi is a provocateur from a family of provocateurs. They plan and video their actions for propaganda purposes. She and her family have been seen on many videos coming out of the area on social media. I have seen no proof that she is a terrorist, but she deserves any jail time she receives.

  • Fool_Killer

    Sadly, daddy never taught her to respect authority, not even for self-preservation...