Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi on Wednesday was sentenced to eight months in prison for slapping and kicking a pair of Israeli soldiers outside her West Bank home, capping a case that sparked uproar in Israel, turned her into a Palestinian hero and attracted international attention.
Tamimi’s Israeli lawyer, Gaby Lasky, said Tamimi, 17, agreed to the sentence as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors that allowed her to avoid more serious charges that could have imprisoned her for years. Under the agreement, she is due to be released in the summer. She is also being fined the equivalent of about $1,400.
Lasky called the legal proceedings a “farce.” She said “they are trying to deter other Palestinian youth from resisting occupation as Ahed did.”
The judge agreed to a similar plea deal for Tamimi’s mother, Nariman, who has been charged with incitement.
“This is injustice, this court is designed to oppress the Palestinians,” her father, Bassem, said. He said they agreed to the deal because they had been threatened with three years in jail.
An Israeli supporter of Tamimi slapped a prosecutor after the ruling and was later arrested by police.
Tamimi was arrested in December after video surfaced of her kicking the soldiers outside her West Bank home. While some praised the soldiers for showing restraint, hardline politicians criticized what they felt was a weak response and called for tough action against the girl, whose family has a long history of run-ins with the Israelis.
But the full-throttle prosecution of Tamimi, who turned 17 behind bars, has drawn widespread international criticism. An Israeli official’s revelation that he had once had parliament investigate whether the blond, blue-eyed Tamimis are “real” Palestinians drew accusations of racism and helped stoke additional interest in the case.
The case touches on what constitutes legitimate resistance to Israel’s rule over millions of Palestinians, now in its 51st year, in territories it captured in the 1967 war.
Ahed Tamimi’s supporters see a brave girl who struck the soldiers in anger after having just learned that Israeli troops seriously wounded a 15-year-old cousin, shooting him in the head from close range with a rubber bullet during nearby stone-throwing clashes.
In Israel, she is seen either as a naive youth manipulated by her elders or a threat to Israel’s military deterrence. The incident also sparked debate about the soldiers’ refusal to act.
Since 2009, residents of Tamimi’s village of Nabi Salah have staged regular anti-occupation protests that often end with stone-throwing clashes.