The Israeli authorities must immediately release teenage activist Ahed Tamimi whose continued detention is a desperate attempt to intimidate Palestinian children who dare to stand up to repression by occupying forces, Amnesty International said.
Ahed Tamimi’s trial is due to start today in Ofer juvenile military court in the occupied West Bank. She faces 12 charges, including aggravated assault, after a video was posted on social media showing her shoving, slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers in her village on 15 December.
“By refusing to release Ahed Tamimi since her arrest on 19 December, the Israeli authorities have shown nothing but contempt for their obligations under international law to protect children,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and Africa.
“As an unarmed girl, Ahed posed no threat during the altercation with the two Israeli soldiers who were heavily armed and wearing protective clothing. 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.
“Yet again, the Israeli authorities have responded to acts of defiance by a Palestinian child with measures that are entirely disproportionate to the incident in question.”
Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is a state party, the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child must be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.
Ahed Tamimi, who spent her 17th birthday in detention, could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Her trial is expected to last several months.
The Israeli army prosecutes hundreds of Palestinian children in juvenile military courts every year, often after arresting them in night-time raids and subjecting them to ill-treatment, including blindfolding, threats, solitary confinement and interrogations without the presence of their lawyers or family members.
There are currently some 350 Palestinian children in Israeli prisons and detention centres, according to local human rights organisations.