The Israeli military trial of a Palestinian teenager charged after a viral video showed her hitting two soldiers in the occupied West Bank began Tuesday behind closed doors.
The judge in the trial ordered journalists removed from the courtroom, ruling that open proceedings would not be in the interest of 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi, who is being tried as a minor.
Only family members were allowed to remain in the courtroom, with diplomats present to observe also asked to leave.
A large crowd of journalists had shown up to cover the trial of Tamimi, whose case has gained international attention.
Trials of minors in military court are typically closed, but Tamimi’s lawyer said previous hearings for the teenager were open and she argued for it to remain that way.
“They understand that people outside Ofer military court are interested in Ahed’s case, they understand that her rights are being infringed and her trial is something that shouldn’t be happening,” Tamimi’s lawyer Gaby Lasky told journalists after having unsuccessfully objected to the judge’s decision to close the trial.
“So the way to keep it out of everybody’s eyes is to close doors and not allow people inside the court for her hearing.”
Tamimi has been hailed as a hero by Palestinians who see her as bravely standing up to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
Israelis accuse her family of using her as a pawn in staged provocations.
She has been charged with 12 counts including assault and could face a lengthy jail term if convicted.
The charges relate to events in the video and five other incidents. They include stone-throwing, incitement and making threats.