A Palestinian teenager who was arrested after a video of her slapping and punching two Israeli soldiers went viral has gone on trial.
Ahed Tamimi arrived at a military court in the West Bank on Tuesday, almost two months after she was taken into custody on 12 charges, including assault, stone throwing and incitement.
The 17-year-old appeared confident as she entered the court, briefly whispering to relatives before the judge ordered everyone except her family to leave.
Her father, Bassem Tamimi, shouted: “Stay strong! Stay strong! You will win!”
The trial was adjourned until 11 March after the prosecution read out her charges.
The case, with the youngster potentially facing years in prison for confronting the troops outside her home, has seen Israel draw widespread criticism.
Amnesty International, the United Nations and the European Union have all expressed concern about Ms Tamimi’s detention, as well as over the 300 other Palestinian minors being held in Israeli jail cells.
The scuffle on 15 December was sparked when Ms Tamimi approached the heavily armed soldiers to vent her frustration at her cousin Mohammed having been injured by Israeli troops, who shot him in the head with a rubber bullet.
Her supporters say her opposition to the soldiers’ presence outside her home in the West Bank town of Nabi Saleh constituted legitimate resistance to Israel’s five decades of rule, having captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in 1967.
Nabi Saleh is noted for weekly protests against the occupation and the control of local water resources by Israeli settlements.
US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has led to heightened clashes.
Ms Tamimi’s Israeli lawyer, Gaby Lasky, said the continued occupation of the West Bank was illegal and that the trial was designed to deter other Palestinian youngsters “from resisting occupation nonviolently”.
She also criticised judge Menachem Lieberman’s decision to hold the trial behind closed doors.
“The court decided what is best for the court, and not what is good for Ahed,” she said.
“The way to keep it out of everybody’s eyes is to close doors and not allow people inside the court for the hearing.”
Mr Tamimi added: “This is not good (that the trial will remain closed), and we need the media and we need the audience […] to see what’s happening to Ahed, because we don’t trust this court and we don’t trust this system.”
Ms Tamimi’s mother, Nariman, and cousin, Nour, were also in court on Tuesday.
Nariman will be kept in custody alongside her daughter until the end of proceedings, and Nour has been bailed.
Israel has framed Ms Tamimi’s actions as purely criminal offences. Among other things, she is being accused of incitement for comments she made on the same widely watched video that captured her scuffling with the soldiers.