Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi, who served an eight-month sentence in Israeli jail for slapping and shoving IDF soldiers outside her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh late last year, was honored by Spanish soccer club Real Madrid on Saturday after being invited to visit the team’s stadium.
Tamimi arrived at Real Madrid’s home field of Santiago Bernabeu hours before the anticipated derby match between the club and Atletico Madrid. At the stadium, Tamimi met with Emilio Butragenio, a former striker for Real Madrid who currently serves as one of the club’s senior managers, and was given a team jersey with her name printed on its back.
Tamimi, 17, was accompanied by her father during her trip to Spain where she participated in several political events, Haaretz reported.
In response to Tamimi’s honoring by Real Madrid, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emanuel Nachshon tweeted that the incident was shameful and a disgrace to the sport’s values.
“What a shame, Real Madrid accepts a terrorist that incites to hatred and violence, what is the connection between this and soccer values?” he asked
— Emmanuel Nahshon (@EmmanuelNahshon) September 29, 2018
Daniel Kutner, Israel’s ambassador to Spain, wrote on Twitter: “Ahed Tamimi does not fight for peace, she defends violence and terror, the institutions that have received and celebrated her indirectly encourage aggression and not the dialogue and understanding that we need.”
Embasys spokesman Yoav Katz tweeted that Real Madrid was “receiving a terrorist who incites hatred and violence.”
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.
The Palestinian teen was arrested after a video emerged showing her and her cousin yelling at Israeli troops near her home and slapping one of the soldiers.
In Ahed’s version of the incident, shared in court during a hearing in December, Tamimi said the soldiers featured in the video had shot her cousin in the head with a rubber bullet an hour prior to the filmed encounter.
Tamimi, who was 16 when she was arrested, admitted as part of a plea deal to the aggravated assault of an IDF soldier, incitement to violence, and disrupting soldiers on two other occasions.
Many Palestinians saw her as bravely standing up to military control over the West Bank, while Israelis accused her family of using her as a pawn.
AFP contributed to this report.