THE Israeli military judge hearing the trial of Palestinian child Ahed Tamimi ordered today that it take place in secret, banning reporters from the court.
Ahed, who turned 17 in prison last month, appeared fresh and confident as she was led into a courtroom packed with journalists and foreign diplomats.
She briefly gestured to relatives at the back of the room before the judge ordered everyone out except her family.
“Stay strong! Stay strong!” shouted her father Bassem.
After the prosecution read out the list of 12 charges, the trial was adjourned until next month.
Ahed potentially faces years in prison if convicted of all charges, including assault and incitement in several incidents going back to April 2016.
She was arrested in a night raid on her family’s home on December 19, four days after she confronted and slapped Israeli soldiers who had grievously wounded her 15-year-old cousin by shooting him in the face at close range with a rubber-coated steel bullet.
Defence lawyer Gaby Lasky said the court was an organ of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and that the charges should be thrown out.
“It is a trial of occupation,” she said. “This is a court of occupation and Ahed was resisting occupation.”
Regular protests have been held in Ahed’s village of Nabi Saleh since 2009, when a nearby Israeli settlement seized its water supply. Israeli occupation forces routinely crack down harshly on Palestinian protesters.
International law makes clear that Israel’s settlements and 51-year-old occupation are illegal, and that Palestinians have every right to resist.
Ahed’s jailing in Israel, along with that of 300 other Palestinian children, is also illegal.
Several senior Israeli officials have called for an example to be made of her.
“She’s not a little girl, she’s a terrorist,” said Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has demanded that Israeli poet Yehonatan Geffen be banned for calling Ahed a hero.
And Education Minister Naftali Bennett said that she and her relatives should “spend the rest of their days in prison.”
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