NABI SALEH, West Bank – Israel’s hard-charging prosecution of a 16-year-old Palestinian girl who slapped and kicked two Israeli soldiers has trained a spotlight on her activist family and its role in what Palestinians call “popular resistance,” the near-weekly protests against Israeli occupation staged in several West Bank villages.
The case of Ahed Tamimi has come to embody rival, grievance-filled Palestinian and Israeli narratives at a time of overwhelming mutual distrust about the other side’s intentions and skepticism about 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, a serial trouble-maker or a threat to Israel’s image and military deterrence.
The December incident that catapulted her into the headlines came 10 days after President Donald Trump’s recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — a decision seen as siding with Israel on the most sensitive issue in the conflict.
Trump’s move triggered Palestinian protests, including in Nabi Saleh, a village of about 600 members of the Tamimi clan. Since 2009, villagers have protested the seizure of some of their land and a spring for a nearby Israeli settlement, with demonstrations often ending in clashes between Palestinian stone-throwers and Israeli soldiers firing tear gas, rubber bullets or live rounds.