Ahed Tamimi, the 17-year-old Palestinian who was imprisoned in December for slapping and kicking an Israeli soldier, has reportedly reached a plea bargain to serve eight months in prison including time served, according to U.S.-based civic organization Avaaz, which is organizing the Free The Tamimis campaign.
Following a closed hearing on Wednesday at Israel’s Ofer Military Court, Avaaz released a statement saying that Tamimi pleaded guilty to four of the 12 charges against her, which initially carried a sentence of up to 10 years.
The decision came just days after the court rejected Tamimi’s appeal to hold her trial in open court, as activists voiced concerns of the court being able to act with increased impunity behind closed doors.
“The Israeli military was forced to give in and drop eight of the charges against Ahed as part of a plea bargain, in which Ahed recognized in court the fact that she slapped the soldier and called for protests,” Avaaz said on Monday.
As part of the plea deal, Tamimi will get the minimum sentence of eight months, though according to the statement from Avaaz, the Israeli prosecutor initially pursued a sentence of three years for Tamimi’s guilty plea.
Avaaz characterized the sentence as a victory. In a statement to the media, Palestine-based head campaigner for Avaaz, Fadi Quran, said “despite Israel’s best efforts to terrorize and break Ahed, she will soon walk free with her head raised high.”
“Her call for freedom has inspired a generation of Palestinian children who are daring to demand a different kind of future. Now let’s think about the hundreds of other Aheds out there. Over 300 kids are currently held by Israel’s military – together we can make sure they walk free too.”
Tamimi’s December indictment included five counts of assault against security forces, including stone throwing. She was charged with assaulting a soldier, threatening a soldier, disrupting a soldier and inciting and throwing objects at a person or property.
Tamimi’s mother, Nariman, who was arrested one day after her daughter and charged with “incitement” for publishing the now famous video of Ahed’s altercation with the soldier, will also be released in July along with her daughter.
“The fact that a child will be jailed for 8 months for slapping a soldier whose troops just shot her 15-year-old cousin in the face is extreme,” the statement said, “but in the context of the 99% conviction rate in the Israeli military court system and right-wing incitement against Ahed, this compromise by the Israeli military shows they have decided to back down in the face of growing pressure to release Ahed.”
The statement went on to detail the intense military interrogations Tamimi was subject to, along with the 10 other Palestinians — eight of them children — from her hometown of Nabi Saleh.
“The interrogation tactics were meant to coerce her into admitting guilt on the 12 charges brought against her. Detained children, who are often beaten, disoriented, and afraid, end up saying anything the interrogator wants them to – but Ahed courageously maintained her right to remain silent throughout the entire interrogation,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Israeli news daily Haaretz reported that the deal was not final, and still needed to be approved by the military court.
Citing unnamed sources, Haaretz reported that Tamimi’s eight-month-sentence “is not considered particularly lenient or particularly severe.”
“The Israeli military felt the need to end the legal event, the source said, as it damaged the army’s reputation in the media and internationally, which may be why the plea bargain was intensively promoted,” Haaretz reported.
Boasting more than 1.7 million signatures on their international call to free Ahed and her mother, Avaaz has credited the widespread international attention surrounding the teenager’s case, with her anticipated release in July.