Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian teen activist, was released Sunday morning, July 29, from a prison in the center of Israel, nearly eight months after she slapped and hit Israeli soldiers outside her home in the village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank. Ahed was released from HaSharon Prison to a West Bank border crossing together with her mother, Nariman, who was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced along with her daughter.
Upon their release, Ahed’s father, Bassem Tamimi, as well as other family members greeted the two. Also present were Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List), Palestinian, Israeli, and international peace activists, along with news crews that spent the morning traveling back and forth between the occupation checkpoints at Jabara and Rantis in the early hours of the morning, after the army repeatedly changed the location of Ahed’s and Nariman’s release. “My happiness is not complete without my sisters [Palestinian female prisoners], who are not with me. I hope that they will also be free,” Ahed said.
Last December, Israeli forces arrested Tamimi and her mother after a video showed the young woman, then 16, hitting and slapping two armed Israeli soldiers outside her home. Nariman recorded the incident that soon went viral on social media. Ahed’s 15-year-old cousin, Mohammed, had been shot in the face by Israeli forces with a rubber-coated steel bullet earlier in the day. Israeli forces have twice detained Mohammed, who is still recovering from his injuries, since an Israeli soldier shot and critically injured him.
Two weeks after her arrest, Tamimi was indicted on 12 charges at Israel’s Ofer military court in the district of Ramallah. In March, Ahed and her mother accepted plea bargains whereupon they were to serve eight months in prison, including the time already incarcerated, in exchange for pleading guilty to some of the charges.
Ahed’s father, Bassem, said he was worried about the safety of his daughter after her release, noting that right-wing Israeli politicians and settlers had threatened her. Following her release, Ahed traveled to Ramallah, where she met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential headquarters, according to official Palestinian news agency Wafa.
“In the end I want to say that the power is with the people, and the people will and can decide their destiny and decide the future,” she said. “Women are a key part of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, and the women’s role will continue to expand, not only in the struggle but by producing new generations that can continue the struggle. We say: Leave, leave the occupation.”
Gaby Lasky, the lawyer who represented Palestinian teenager Tamimi, responded to Tamimi’s release Sunday morning. “I am happy that she’s finally out,” Lasky said. “She was incarcerated because of politics, rather than for legal reasons… Her slap was a resounding blow in the face of the hasbara [public propaganda] of [the Israeli] occupation.”
Hadash MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) also commented on Tamimi’s release: “The smile of Ahed Tamimi this morning with her family is a picture of victory. Her arrest in the first place was arbitrary and vengeful. For eight months, she was removed from her life for a legitimate act expressing a brave stance against the occupation. Her imprisonment was meant to humiliate her and break her spirit, but she is now a heroine and a victor,” said Jabareen. “Israel must understand that it is impossible to suppress a just popular protest and that its actions only strengthen those who oppose the occupation. The time has come to stop the military control of Tamimi and her generation, and to end the occupation.”
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