Israel arrested a 16-year-old Palestinian girl on Monday on charges that included assault after she was captured punching an Israeli soldier in the face in a social media video two weeks ago.
The incident has turned her into a hero for Palestinians, but right-wing Israelis are outraged by the incident, according to Reuters.
The girl, identified as Ahed Tamimi, was filmed in a confrontation with soldiers alongside her cousin, 21-year-old Nur Tamimi. The video was widely shared by Palestinians on social media. Ahed and Nur Tamimi were both arrested after the video was posted on Facebook (fb), according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
According to the charges, Ahed Tamimi pushed the soldiers and told them, “Get out or I’ll punch you,” before she began to kick and slap them. A captain and staff sergeant were reportedly stationed near Tamimi’s home to prevent Palestinians from throwing stones at passing motorists, BBC reports.
Haaretz has said that the case has made Tamimi into such a potent symbol for Palestinians—who view her acts as defiant of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank—that Israel risked turning her into the “Palestinian Joan of Arc.”
Reuters reports that right-wing Israelis have debated whether the soldier should have struck back, but the Israeli army said he “acted professionally” by showing restraint.
“Tamimi threw stones at [the soldiers], threatened them, obstructed them in fulfilling their duty, took part in riots and incited others to take part in them,” the military said on its public affairs Twitter account.
The charge sheet against Tamimi, seen and reported by Reuters, included counts of aggravated assault against a soldier, obstructing a soldier in the performance of his duty, and throwing stones at troops.
Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, said the charges were false.
“Their aim is to terrorize people, and they are trying to deter children and others,” he said to Reuters.
Gaby Lasky, Tamimi’s lawyer, told Reuters that prosecutors will want to keep Tamimi in custody “as long as possible because they don’t want the voice of resistance outside prison.”
Tamimi’s father Bassem Tamimi, a well-known activist, portrayed his daughter as a “freedom fighter” in an op-ed in Haaretz
“My daughter is just 16 years old,” he says. “In another world, in your world, her life would look completely different. In our world, Ahed is a representative of a new generation of our people, of young freedom fighters.”
“Ahed is one of many young women who in the coming years will lead the resistance to Israeli rule,” he said. “She is not interested in the spotlight currently being aimed at her due to her arrest, but in genuine change.”
The response of the Israeli right was articulated by notable Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick, who wrote: “In a very real sense, the Tamimi family is at the nexus of a global war against Israel.”
“The Tamimis have connections with nearly every government and group involved in that war. The Israeli and American Left, the EU, Jordan and Turkey and of course Hamas and the [Palestine Liberation Organization] all support them.”