Trial Opens of Palestinian Charged With Assaulting Soldier

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More than two dozen prominent US Black artists and public figures are speaking out in support of Ahed Tamimi, as the teenager's trial began in an Israeli military court.

"The military courts themselves are one of the most injurious mechanisms of the occupation and are not created to seek justice or truth, but to maintain the occupation", Amit Gilutz, spokesperson for Israeli rights group B'Tselem, told Al-Jazeera Tuesday after Ahed's secret trial.

Israel's hard-charging prosecution of Tamimi, recognizable by her unruly mane of curly hair, has drawn worldwide attention and criticism.

Ms Tamimi's father, Bassem, said he arrived at the trial "with no good expectations, because this a military court, and it's part of the Israeli military occupation".

Only family members were allowed to remain in the courtroom at Ofer military base, and diplomats were also asked to leave.

She has been charged with 12 counts including assault and could face a lengthy jail term if convicted. Her mother, Nariman Tamimi, also is charged for incitement on social media and for assault.

Israeli forces raided several homes in the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem in southern West Bank and detained seven people, Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, an NGO, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

"We believe that this is an indictment exclusively created in order to deter Ahed and other Palestinian youths" from resisting occupation, Lasky said afterward.

Trump has promised to propose a peace plan, but Palestinian officials have said they fear any US offer would fall far short of their demands, including a capital in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem. In contrast, Israelis enjoy the benefit of urban freedom and prosperity in an atmosphere of normalcy with relatively high levels of security in recent years that has greatly diminished the security threat, and in the process, effectively erased Palestinian grievances and aspirations from public consciousness.

"None of the facts of this case would appear to justify her ongoing detention prior to her trial, particularly given the concerns expressed by the Committee on the Rights of the Child about the use of pre-trial detention and detention on remand", Lynk said.

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She has become a national icon, her face has appeared on street murals and posters, while an online petition organized by her father calling for her release has gathered 1.7 million signatures.

Signatory Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks was previous year among several American football players who pulled out of a propaganda tour of Israel, explaining that he would "not be used" by Israel's government to whitewash violations of Palestinian rights.

In this January 4, 2018 file photo, demonstrators hold posters reading, "Release Ahed" during a protest demanding Israel to release Ahed Tamimi. For many Israelis, Tamimi is a provocateur who goads soldiers on video and champions rock-throwing, influenced by relatives who have been involved in protests and attacks against Israelis.

In 2012, Amnesty International labeled Bassem Tamimi a prisoner of conscience during one of his numerous stints in an Israeli prison.

In this respect, the experts referred to various opinions on Israel adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention which have emphasized the right of children to be tried by a juvenile justice system rather than before military tribunals, in accordance with relevant global human rights law. Tuesday's hearing was adjourned until early March.

Both women are being held until the end of their proceedings, which could last months. "What I think is that the court doesn't think it's good for the court to have all of you inside of it so you can not carry on watching her trial", she told reporters.

But although Ahed's case may have drawn attention, it comes at a time of flagging support for the Palestinian cause in the Middle East.

"This violates the fundamental legal guarantee to have access to counsel during interrogation", Jose Guevara, chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, said on Tuesday.

"Human rights organizations must investigate!"

Ahed, who turned 17 behind bars last month, was denied bail by the military court judge and stands little chance of winning her case as such courts have a 99 percent conviction rate.