Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi left prison early Sunday after serving an eight-month for slapping and shoving IDF soldiers outside her home in the West Bank village of Nebi Saleh late last year.
Tamimi, 17, and her mother, who was also jailed over the incident, were being driven by Israeli authorities from a prison inside Israel to a checkpoint at Tulkarem leading to the West Bank, where they live, according to prison’s spokesman Assaf Librati said.
“They just left the prison,” Librati said.
Upon their release from prison, the two are expected to pay a visit to the grave of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah and then hold a press conference in their village of Nebi Saleh.
Tamimi’s incarceration had drawn attention from around the globe, highlighting the teen’s image as a Palestinian icon. She had become a cause célèbre for Palestinian supporters, and rallies were held in several locations calling for her release after her arrest in December.
Many Palestinians see her as bravely standing up to military control over the West Bank, while Israelis accuse her family of using her as a pawn.
Troops on Saturday detained two Italian artists who had painted a large mural of Ahed Tamimi on Israel’s West Bank security barrier, according to local activist Munther Amireh and amateur video posted online.
In Tamimi’s village of Nebi Saleh, supporters prepared for Sunday’s homecoming, planting Palestinian flags on the roof of her family home and setting up hundreds of chairs for well-wishers in the courtyard.
Ahed’s father Bassem said Saturday that after her release from prison “we expect her to lead and we will support her to lead” in the fight to end occupation. He did not say what that would entail.
Bassem Tamimi said that his daughter completed her high school exams in prison, with the help of other prisoners who taught the required material. He said she initially hoped to attend a West Bank university but has also received scholarship offers abroad.