An Israeli military court denied bail Wednesday to a 16-year-old Palestinian girl, ordering her held until her trial for slapping two Israeli soldiers in a West Bank scuffle that was captured on video and brought her to international attention.
The ruling in the high-profile case of Ahed Tamimi drew condemnation from Israeli rights activists and her father.
"This is a political trial meant to appease public opinion in Israel," said Bassem Tamimi.
Both Ahed and her mother Nariman were arrested Dec. 19, four days after the incident outside their home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Nariman Tamimi was also remanded Wednesday until the end of legal proceedings.
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The case has come to embody rival, grievance-filled Palestinian and Israeli narratives at a time of overwhelming mutual distrust and skepticism about the chances of ending the long-running conflict.
Many Palestinians have embraced the teen as a symbol of a new generation standing up to Israeli rule. In Israel, she is seen either as a naive youth manipulated by her elders or a threat to Israel's image and military deterrence.
In the Dec. 15 video, Ahed Tamimi is seen approaching an Israeli captain and a first sergeant, yelling at them to leave. She starts pushing and kicking the soldiers, who casually fend off the blows. Then she hits both in the face, according to a 12-count indictment that also lists previous alleged incidents and carries maximum jail time of 14 years.
Her family says Israeli troops had seriously wounded a 15-year-old cousin in clashes in the village earlier that day, and that word of the incident had set her off. The village, which has lost lands and a spring to a nearby Israeli settlement, has been the scene of regular protests against Israeli military rule.
Ahed Tamimi's next court hearing is set for Jan. 31, the day she turns 17.
On Tuesday, James Heeran, head of the local office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed "deep concern" over her continued pre-trial detention. Depriving children of liberty should only be used as a last resort, if they pose an imminent threat to themselves or others, he said.
Heeran noted that she was arrested from her home in the middle of the night, interrogated without a relative or lawyer present, and is now held outside the occupied territories in what he said contravenes international humanitarian law.
The Tamimi case has also trained a spotlight on Israel's detention of hundreds of Palestinian minors.
The Israeli rights group B'Tselem said that as of November, 181 Palestinian minors were being held for the duration of their legal cases, citing figures provided by the Israel Prison Service.
Associated Press writer Karin Laub in Jericho, West Bank, contributed to this report.