A Palestinian teenager who was sent to prison for for slapping and kicking Israeli soldiers has been released.
Ahed Tamimi and her mother Nariman were released early on Sunday and are being transferred by the army to the Palestinian territories, prison service spokesman Assaf Librati said.
The teenager, who turned 17 in prison, served an eight-month prison term after agreeing to a plea deal that allowed her to avoid more serious charges.
Tamimi was arrested in December after video surfaced of her kicking the soldiers outside her West Bank home. She had allegedly just learned Israeli soldiers had wounded a 15-year-old cousin by shooting him in the head from close range with a rubber bullet during nearby stone-throwing clashes.
Tamimi, recognisable by her unruly mop of curly red hair, has become for many a symbol of resistance to Israel’s military occupation and is no stranger to run-ins with soldiers.
She has participated in protests and marches from a young age. One photo shows the then-12- year-old raising a clenched fist toward a soldier towering over her.
In Israel, she is seen by many as a provocateur, an irritation or a threat to the military’s deterrence policy.
In Palestine however, she is seen as a freedom fighter, with images of her becoming popular on posters in the West Bank.
In Nabi Saleh, supporters welcomed Ahed home with Palestinian flags planted on the roof of her home. Hundreds of chairs were set up for wellwishers in the courtyard.
“The resistance continues until the occupation is removed,” she said on her return. “All the female prisoners are steadfast. I salute everyone who supported me and my case.”
From her home, Ahed headed for a visit to the grave of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Her father, Bassem Tamimi, said he expects her to take a lead in the struggle against Israeli occupation but she is also weighing up college options.
Supporters are preparing a festive homecoming for Ahed in her West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.
Her family’s home has been decorated with Palestinian flags and hundreds of chairs await wellwishers.
Some 1.7 million people worldwide have signed a petition calling for her release.