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Israeli military trial opens for Palestinian girl hero

Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi enters a military courtroom escorted by Israeli security personnel at Ofer Prison, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, February 13, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

The Israeli military has begun the trial of a Palestinian teenage girl, who gained international fame for slapping an Israeli soldier in the face, behind closed doors.

Ahed Tamimi, 17, was taken away from her home by the military last December after a video went viral showing her slapping and punching two Israeli soldiers during a raid on the village of Nabi Saleh, northwest of Ramallah.

She has been hailed as a heroine by many Palestinians for bravely standing up to the Israeli military aggression and recognized as a symbol of the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation.

Tamimi has been charged with 12 counts -- including assault, stone-throwing, incitement and making threats -- in connection with the events in the video as well as five other incidents.

If convicted, she could face a lengthy jail term.

Lebanese and Palestinian protesters call for the release of Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi outside the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Beirut, Lebanon, December 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

A hearing into the case of Tamimi opened at the Ofer military prison in the West Bank village of Betunia on Tuesday.

The judge ordered journalists and diplomats to leave the courtroom, but the girl's family members were allowed to remain there.

Tamimi's lawyer Gaby Lasky criticized the judge for shutting the media and members of the public out of the trial.

"They understand that people outside Ofer military court are interested in Ahed's case; they understand that her rights are being infringed and her trial is something that shouldn't be happening."

Lasky went on, "So the way to keep it out of everybody's eyes is to close doors and not allow people inside the court for her hearing."

On Monday, Amnesty International called for Tamimi's release and accused the Tel Aviv regime of discriminatory treatment of Palestinian children.

“As an unarmed girl, Ahed posed no threat during the altercation with the two Israeli soldiers who were heavily armed and wearing protective clothing.”

Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and Africa, added, “Nothing she has done can justify her continued detention and the long, aggressive interrogation sessions she has been forced to endure during the first two weeks of her detention.”

Protest at administrative detention

Additionally on Tuesday, Palestinian prisoners held under the much-criticized policy of administrative detention said they were boycotting Israeli court hearings altogether.

According to figures provided by the Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, almost 6,280 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli jails, 465 of them in administrative detention.

Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes to show their outrage against administrative detention, which is a form of imprisonment without charge or trial that allows Israel to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months – and subject to indefinite extensions.

Palestinian prisoners have also complained about being assaulted and tortured at Israeli prisons.

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