Jerusalem (AFP) – Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi left prison Sunday after an eight-month sentence for slapping two Israeli soldiers, an episode captured on video that made her a symbol of resistance for Palestinians, a prison service spokesman said.
Assaf Librati told AFP Tamimi, 17, and her mother, who was also jailed over the incident, were being driven by Israeli authorities from a prison inside Israel to a checkpoint leading to the occupied West Bank, where they live.
“They just left the prison,” Librati said.
Israeli authorities provided conflicting information on which checkpoint they were being taken to.
They were first expected to arrive at a checkpoint near the Palestinian city of Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank, but there were later indications they would be taken to a crossing at Rantis.
Both Tamimi and her mother were sentenced to eight months in an Israeli military court following a plea deal over the December incident which the family said took place in their yard in Nabi Saleh in the West Bank.
Video of it went viral, leading Palestinians to view her as a hero standing up to Israel’s occupation.
Her now-familiar image has been painted on Israel’s separation wall cutting off the West Bank. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has praised her and social media has been flooded with support.
But for Israelis, Tamimi is being used by her activist family as a pawn in staged provocations.
They point to a series of previous such incidents involving her, with older pictures of her confronting soldiers widely shared online.
Many Israelis also praised the restraint of the soldiers, who remained calm throughout, though others said her actions merited a tougher response.
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Tamimi was arrested in the early hours of December 19, four days after the incident. She was 16 at the time.
Her mother Nariman was also arrested, as was her cousin Nour, who was freed in March.
Israel’s military said the soldiers were in the area on the day of the incident to prevent Palestinians from throwing stones at Israeli motorists.
The video shows the cousins approaching two soldiers and telling them to leave before shoving, kicking and slapping them.
Ahed Tamimi is the most aggressive of the two in the video.
The heavily armed soldiers do not respond in the face of what appears to be an attempt to provoke rather than seriously harm them.
They then move backwards after Nariman Tamimi becomes involved.
The scuffle took place amid clashes and protests against US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Relatives say that a member of the Tamimi family was wounded in the head by a rubber bullet fired during those protests.