By Bethan McKernan
The high profile trial of Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi who slapped and kicked two Israeli soldiers in December has been adjourned until next month after a military judge ordered it take place behind closed doors.
The 17-year-old from the West Bank town of Nabi Saleh arrived at court on Tuesday morning, only for the court to order all observers except her family out of the room. After the prosecution read out the indictment, her trial was adjourned until 11 March.
The girl was arrested on 19 December after footage emerged of her slapping, punching and kicking Israeli troops in a confrontation near her home in the West Bank.
She was reportedly upset after learning that her 15-year-old cousin had been seriously injured after being shot in the head by a rubber bullet during stone-throwing clashes nearby.
The case has drawn widespread criticism of Israel for the military prosecution of a minor, who turned 17 in prison last month. The assault and incitement charges could potentially lead to a sentence of years in prison.
To Palestinians, Ms Tamimi has become something of a resistance figure, her detention symbolic of what they say is legitimate non-violent opposition to Israeli occupation.
The teenager’s trial has already been delayed twice since its scheduled start date of 31 January. She remains in custody at Ofer prison near Ramallah.
She arrived at court appearing calm, smiling and flashing the ‘V for victory’ sign at photographers.
Western diplomats, rights researchers and journalists along with dozens of other observers were quickly kicked out in a decision which judge Lieutenant Colonel Menachem Lieberman said was for Ms Tamimi’s own protection.
“I didn’t think it’s good for the minor that there are 100 people in the courtroom,” he said.
The girl’s Israeli lawyer, Gaby Lasky, accused the court of wishing to hide the proceedings from a watching world, against her family’s wishes.
“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.
Human rights organisations estimate around 300 Palestinian children are currently in Israeli jails.” – Independent.