Father of Palestinian teen said to have slapped Israeli soldier is pessimistic as trial begins

Palestinian protest icon Ahed Tamimi is to go on trial before an Israeli military court for slapping and punching two Israeli soldiers in December in a case that has drawn wide criticism of Israel for prosecuting the teenager.

It has also underscored what Palestinians say constitutes legitimate resistance to Israel’s rule, now in its 51st year after Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in 1967.

Israel has treated Tamimi’s actions as a criminal offence, indicting her on charges of assault and incitement that could potentially lead to years in prison.

The Israeli military judge overseeing the trial on Tuesday ordered all proceedings to take place behind closed doors.

The judge quickly ushered out reporters, saying the trial would be closed “for the protection of the minor.” Her lawyer, Gaby Lasky, objected.

Has been detained for 2 months

Tamimi, who has been incarcerated for nearly two months, appeared to be in good spirits as she entered and whispered across the courtroom to her family.

Her father, Bassem Tamimi, shouted: “Stay strong!”

He told the Associated Press earlier in the day that he came to court “with no good expectations, because this a military court, and it’s part of the Israeli military occupation.”

The extended Tamimi family has been involved in conflict with Israeli authorities over the years. Ahed Tamimi is shown on Nov. 20, 2012, crying at the funeral of a relative killed during a clash with the Israeli army. (Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

The Dec. 15 confrontation took place after what Israel says was a stone-throwing assault on its troops and was widely circulated on social media. International rights groups have called for charges to be dropped.

Tamimi’s family previously filmed other confrontations with soldiers. Tamimi made news two years ago when she was pictured biting a soldier who tried to arrest her younger brother.

In 2012, she was presented with an award in Turkey and met President Tayyip Erdogan after images of her confronting an Israeli soldier went viral.

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