A teenager who became an icon of the Palestinian struggle after being jailed for slapping and kicking an Israeli soldier has been freed.
Ahed Tamimi, 17, urged supporters to continue their resistance as she received a hero’s welcome on returning to her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.
Images of Tamimi attacking the soldier last December went viral.
The Israelis viewed the incident, relayed by her mother live on Facebook, as a staged provocation.
Tamimi, who was 16 at the time of her arrest, was sentenced to eight months in prison.
Following her release, the red-haired teenager told dozens of well-wishers: “From this martyr’s house, I say resistance is continuing until the occupation is removed.
“I thank everyone who stood by me while I was in prison.”
The scuffle on 15 December was sparked when Tamimi approached the heavily armed soldiers to vent her frustration at her cousin Mohammed having been injured by Israeli troops, who shot him in the head with a rubber bullet.
Her village in the West Bank is known for weekly protests against land seizures by Israel, leading to confrontations with the military and Jewish settlers.
Palestinians want the West Bank for a future state, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
Most countries consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal, but this is disputed by Israel.
Tamimi’s case drew global attention with Amnesty International arguing her sentence was at odds with international law, which states that the detention of a minor must be used only as a last resort for the shortest appropriate period of time.
Her father said he is still worried about his son, Tamimi’s brother, who is in prison awaiting military trial for his activism.
Bassam Tamimi said: “My son is still in Israeli prison for the duration of military court proceedings against him, which is a reminder that Israel’s occupation is always seeking to punish us because our existence contradicts the existence of the occupation.
“This is a day of relief, which we hope will blossom into happiness once this brutal military occupation is out of our lives.”
Saleh Higazi, head of Amnesty International’s Jerusalem office, said. “This is a huge relief for Ahed Tamimi’s loved ones, but their joy will be tempered by the injustice of her imprisonment and the grim knowledge that many more Palestinian children still languish in Israeli jails, many despite not having committed any recognisable crime.
“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.”