Palestinians are hailing Ahed Tamimi, 16, as a hero, after she and her 20-year-old cousin, Nouh Tamimi, confronted two Israeli soldiers in the yard of their family home.

Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi (R) enters a military courtroom escorted by Israeli Prison Service personnel at Ofer Prison, near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, January 1, 2018.
Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi (R) enters a military courtroom escorted by Israeli Prison Service personnel at Ofer Prison, near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, January 1, 2018. (Reuters)

Israel charged a Palestinian teenager with 12 counts including assault on Monday following her arrest after a video of her slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers in the West Bank went viral.

Ahed Tamimi, 16, has been hailed as a hero by Palestinians who see her as standing up to Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

The charges filed with an Israeli military court relate to the events in the video but also five other incidents and include stone-throwing, incitement and making threats.

She could face a lengthy jail term if convicted.

Mother and cousin also charged

Five charges were also filed against her mother Nariman and on Sunday her cousin Nour, 20, was indicted as well.

The accusations against Nariman Tamimi include using Facebook "to incite others to commit terrorist attacks" and participating in the incident on video, the army said in a statement.

Ahed Tamimi and her mother have been ordered to remain in custody until at least January 8, when another hearing will be held.

Prosecutors are requesting that they be kept in detention until the completion of their trial.

Nour Tamimi is to be released on bail of 5,000 shekels ($1,400) on Tuesday afternoon barring an appeal by prosecutors, said the Tamimis' lawyer, Gaby Lasky.

Confronting Israeli aggression

Ahed Tamimi's family says the December 15 incident that led to the arrests occurred in the yard of their home in Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah.

Israel's military said the soldiers were in the area to prevent Palestinians from throwing stones at Israeli motorists nearby.

A video shows the cousins approaching two Israeli soldiers and telling them to leave before shoving, kicking and slapping them.

The well-protected soldiers do not initially respond to the girls' attempt to get them to move, but they back off somewhat when Ahed's mother gets involved.

Symbol of resistance

The case has made Ahed Tamimi into such a potent symbol for Palestinians that a commentator in Israeli left-wing newspaper Haaretz said Israel risked turning her into the "Palestinian Joan of Arc".

Right-wing Israelis, meanwhile, have debated whether the heavily armed soldier Ahed slapped was weak for not striking her back. The Israeli army said he "acted professionally" in choosing not to beat unarmed 16-year-old and 20-year-old women.

Ahed Tamimi, arrested in the early hours of December 19, has been involved in a series of previous incidents, with older pictures of her confronting soldiers widely published.

She has become something of an icon for Palestinians who have flooded social media with praise and support in recent days.

Ahed's family are prominent activists who have been at the forefront of protests in their village against Israel's 50-year occupation of the West Bank.

Punished for resisting the occupation?

Lasky called prosecutors' decision to charge her not only for the incident on video but also for past incidents "strange" and a bid to ensure she serves significant jail time.

"Since Ahed became kind of a symbol of resistance, they wanted to find a way to keep her in detention for a long period of time," she said.

The army called the five other events instances in which "she assaulted security forces, threw rocks at them, threatened them, obstructed them in the fulfilment of their duties, and participated in riots and incited others to do so."

Lasky said she had not had time to study all the charges and evidence presented, so she could not yet say what length of sentence the teenager, who is being tried as a minor, could face, but she feared it could be "for a long time."

False charges

Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, which advocates on behalf of Palestinians in Israeli jails, said the charges were false.

"Their aim is to terrorise people, and they are trying to deter children and others,” he said.

Tamimi's lawyer, Gaby Lasky, said she was certain some of the charges would eventually be dismissed, but nonetheless prosecutors may seek the maximum penalty for other counts.

"I am sure they want to keep her as long as possible because they don't want the voice of resistance outside prison," Lasky said at the military courtroom in Ofer prison near the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the West Bank.

Tamimi was not asked to enter a plea at this stage. The military court gave her lawyer more time to study the charges.

An adult found guilty of assaulting a soldier could be jailed for up to 10 years, but such an outcome would be unlikely for Tamimi as a minor.

The incident occurred at the entrance to Tamimi’s family home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, where weekly protests against Israeli settlement policy have been held for years.

Tamimi's father is a prominent Palestinian activist. He said he fears she will be imprisoned over the incident, particularly because it has become "a case of public opinion" in Israel.

Source: Reuters