SHE'S been referred to as the "new face of Palestinian resistance", and compared to Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai and Joan of Arc.

It's not the first time Ahed Tamimi has been in the global spotlight, but this is certainly the largest and most polarising case.

The 17-year-old teenager has been detained by Israeli authorities and could face up to a decade in prison.

Around the world, many people are protesting for her release.

Others say she deserves to spend the rest of her life there.


Ahed Tamimi is a Palestinian activist who grew up in the village of Nabi Saleh, which is under Israeli occupation.

Since a young age, she has taken part in protests against military occupation and the presence of soldiers in her town.

She was eight years old when her mother was first arrested for disobeying soldiers' orders, and 10 years old when her father was arrested for allegedly organising demonstrations against them.

Photos of Ahed - raising her fist at a soldier in 2012 and biting a soldier in 2015 - have been seen across the globe.

This photo from 2012 shows Ahed Tamimi gesturing in front of an Israeli soldier during a protest.
This photo from 2012 shows Ahed Tamimi gesturing in front of an Israeli soldier during a protest.

But it's the first time Ahed herself has been detained, after an incident of her alteration with two Israeli soldiers in the driveway of her family home went viral.

On 15 December last year, Tamimi and her family were protesting against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

During the incident Ahed's 14-year-old cousin, Mohammed, was shot in the head at close range with a rubber bullet by an Israeli soldier.

Later that day, soldiers entered the yard of the Tamimi family's home. Ahed's mother, Nariman, filmed the incident and uploaded it to her Facebook page.

In the video, Ahed is seen pushing the two soldiers and telling them to "get out" as they surround the home. A soldier retaliates with a swatting motion, and she responds by kicking and slapping him while threatening to punch the other one.

She was unarmed during the altercation, and the soldiers were wearing protective gear.

Four days later, the then-16-year-old was arrested, and her mother was charged with incitement on social media and assault.

Ahed now faces up to a decade in prison, with her actions being treated by Israel as a criminal offence.

Ahed's cousin, Nour, was also charged with assault, and wrote an article published in the Washington Post calling for her release.

Palestinian protest icon Ahed Tamimi in a courtroom at the Ofer military prison near Jerusalem.
Palestinian protest icon Ahed Tamimi in a courtroom at the Ofer military prison near Jerusalem.

Among Palestinians, Ahed has been hailed as a hero for what they see as standing up to armed soldiers on occupied land.

But many Israelis see her as a meddlesome troublemaker out for publicity. Education Minister Naftali Bennett said the mother and daughter both deserved to "finish their lives in prison".

Other Israelis have accused Tamimi of deliberately trying to provoke Israeli soldiers on film.

The girl's case has made global headlines, with various international human rights organisations calling for her release.

Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets in the US and Europe calling for her release.

Even in Australia, the issue has been raised on a national level. Labor Senator for Tasmania Lisa Singh defended Ahed in parliament last week, calling on Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to release her. "Ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized," she said.

"I do not believe that this particular child's act of courage and defiance in the face of over 50 years of illegal occupation justifies her continuing detention. I believe Ahed Tamimi's real crime in the eyes of Israel has been to shame that country's illegal occupation of Palestine and her point-blank refusal to accept or bow down to that 50-year-old occupation and the guns that come with it."

Tamimi will remain behind bars for the rest of her trial, which the judge confirmed will take place behind closed doors.

Ahed is just one of thousands of Palestinians who have protested their conditions, but she is one of the few to become a recognised international symbol.

According to a report by The Atlantic, this is in part due to her "unusual" appearance as a Palestinian.

"Unavoidably, she is blonde and light-skinned and light-eyed," said Ben Ehrenreich, a journalist who profiled the family in 2012. "A great deal of work goes into 'othering' Palestinians, to casting them as some really recognizable other… but when suddenly the kid doesn't fit into those stereotypes-when she actually looks like a European kid or an American kid-then suddenly all that work of dehumanization can't function, and she can't be 'othered' in the same way. And then people freak out."

Tamimi has been denied bail, and the judge has ruled her trial will take place behind closed doors.

But with Israel's military court system boasting a 99.7 per cent conviction rate for Palestinians, the odds don't look good.

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