Ahed Tamimi, a 17-year-old Palestinian activist from the village of Nabi Saleh, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, was released from prison Monday after serving eight months for slapping Israeli soldiers.
The confrontation quickly went viral on the Internet and propelled Tamimi into the spotlight, with many labeling her a “symbol” of the Palestinian cause, according to the New York Times.
“I learned a lot,” Tamimi said hours after her release on Sunday from prison. “I learned how to stay patient, to be in a group. I did my best to use the time to study. I came out more educated, and understand the world better than when I went in.”
However, the young activist also stated that she is no less determined to fight against the Israeli occupation, and that she doesn’t regret her actions the day that landed her in jail. Here’s what you need to know about Tamimi:
1. Tamimi Became a Face of the Palestinian Cause After a Video of Her Slapping, Kicking and Punching Israeli Officers Went Viral
Tamimi was arrested in December, 2017, a few short days after she was seen on video kicking, hitting, punching and shoving a heavily armed Israeli soldier at the entrance to her family home in the village of Nabi Saleh. The two soldiers remained mostly impassive during the altercation before leaving the scene.
The episode occurred after a different soldier fired a rubber bullet at Tamimi’s 15-year-old cousin, striking him in the head. He was gravely injured but survived, according to the New York Times.
Tamimi was 16 at the time. Her mother, Nariman, who filmed the video and posted it live on Facebook, was also arrested, as was a cousin who joined in.
2. Tamimi Plans to Continue Her Education Studying Law, Aiming to Sue Israel in International Courts for War Crimes During the Occupation
According to the New York Times, Tamimi now plans to study law, with the hopes of suing Israel in international courts for what she describes as the “violations and war crimes of the occupation.”
“Of course I’m not going to forget the cause,” she said in an interview, “but I’m going to invest in my studies, because knowledge is the strongest weapon for a struggler.”
She told the New York Times that her imprisonment had been “difficult but meaningful.” She also expressed solidarity with the female Palestinian prisoners that she met while she was incarcerated.
3. She Was Photographed in 2015 Biting the Hand of an Israeli Soldier Who Was Trying to Arrest Her Brother
Tamimi is no stranger to standing up to Israeli soldiers. Nearly three years ago, she was photographed biting the hand of an Israeli soldier who was attempting to arrest her young brother.
A protest of Israel’s military occupation became restless in 2015 after an exchange of tear gas and stones, and one officer tried to arrest a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, who happened to be Tamimi’s brother. Despite his arm being in a sling, the officer was photographed pinning him down after accusing him of hurling rocks.
Five female protesters surrounded the Israeli officer, according to the New York Times. The women scuffled with the officer until he released the boy, but not before a 14-year-old Tamimi bit his hand.
And in 2012, when she was 11, she was photographed raising her fist and yelling at another Israeli soldier, according to the New York Times.
4. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Praised Tamimi’s Actions, Calling Her a “Model” of the Palestinian Struggle for Freedom
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Tamimi and her family after her release. According to a statement released by the official Wafa news agency, Abbas “praised Ahed and described her as a model of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, independence and statehood.”
Tamimi’s protest gained international attention and many human rights groups were critical of her prison sentence. Amnesty International called her release “welcome news” but “stressed that other Palestinian minors are facing difficult circumstances in Israeli prisons,” according to National Public Radio.
“Ahed Tamimi’s release must not obscure the familiar and continuing story of the Israeli military using discriminatory policies to lock up Palestinian children,” said Saleh Higazi, the head of Amnesty’s Jerusalem office. “Her unjust imprisonment is a reminder of how the Israeli occupation uses the arbitrary military courts to punish those who challenge the occupation and illegal settlements expansion policies, without any regard to age.”
5. Some Israeli Protesters Believe That Tamimi & Her Siblings Are Manipulated By Her Parents to Participate in “Staged Protests” That Deliberately Incite Violence
Many in Israel claim that Tamimi’s parents exploit her and her siblings, manipulating them to be used as “pawns in staged provocations.” She denied claims that she had been exploited, according to Yahoo.
“My family never exploited me once,” she said. “I am mature enough and I know the cause. I know the consequences that will stem from choosing this path. I am not a child.”
Tamimi and her mother Nariman were both sentenced to eight months by an Israeli military court in a plea deal following the December incident. According to NPR, her father said her protest was “an understandable response to growing up watching her relatives be killed and wounded.”