NABI SALEH: Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi, who became an international symbol of resistance to Israeli occupation after slapping two soldiers, walked out of an Israeli prison today and told throngs of journalists and well-wishers that she now wants to study law to defend her people.
In a news conference in the courtyard of her family home, the curly haired 17-year-old briefly raised her fist and said the “occupation must leave,” speaking against the backdrop of a large model of a slingshot meant to symbolize Palestinian stone-throwing protests.
However, the once feisty teen appeared to be subdued, stopping short of committing to continued acts of protests and saying her eight-month prison stint had taught her to appreciate life.
Underlying her case are clashing narratives about Israel’s half-century rule over the Palestinians, the extent of permissible Palestinian resistance to it and the battle for global public opinion.
Tamimi’s supporters see a brave girl who struck two armed soldiers in frustration after having just learned that Israeli troops seriously wounded a 15-year-old cousin, shooting him in the head from close range with a rubber bullet during nearby stone-throwing clashes.In Israel, she is seen by many either as a provocateur, an irritation or a threat to the military’s deterrence policy ? even as a “terrorist.
“ Israel has treated her actions as a criminal offense, indicting her on charges of assault and incitement.
In liberal circles, the hard-charging prosecution of Tamimi was criticized as a public relations disaster because it turned her into an international icon.
Her release comes at a time when Palestinian hopes for an independent state appear dimmer than ever.
Israeli-Palestinian talks on setting up a state in lands captured by Israel in 1967 the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem have been deadlocked since hard-line Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to power in 2009.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended contacts with the US after President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December in what Palestinians denounced as a displayof blatant pro-Israel bias.
Abbas, meanwhile, has stepped up financial pressure on Gaza, controlled since 2007 by his bitter domestic rival, the Islamic militant Hamas.
Many Palestinians are disillusioned by their leaders in both political camps and feel exhausted after years of conflict with Israel.
Alternatives have arisen, including calling for a single state for both peoples between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, but haven’t gained a mass following.