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Turkey’s Erdogan calls, praises soldier-slapper Ahed Tamimi

Lebanon’s Hariri tweets congratulations to the teen, who was released Sunday after serving 7-plus months in Israeli prison

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi (c) is welcomed by relatives and supporters after she was released from Israeli military prison on July 29, 2018. (FLASH90)
Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi (c) is welcomed by relatives and supporters after she was released from Israeli military prison on July 29, 2018. (FLASH90)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday phoned Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi on her release from Israeli prison for slapping and kicking a soldier, and praised her “bravery and determination to fight,” Turkish media reported.

Erdogan also vowed to continue to support the “just struggle” of the Palestinian people, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported.

Tamimi, 17, and her mother, Nariman Tamimi, who was also jailed over the incident, were freed Sunday morning after over seven months in jail, returning to celebrations in their hometown of Nabi Saleh in the central West Bank.

Six years ago Erdogan met Tamimi when she visited Istanbul to receive the Hanzala Courage Prize.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri tweeted his support for Tamimi.

“Congratulation to the brave girl Ahed Tamimi, being released to freedom,” he posted. “And greetings to all Palestinian militants in the Israeli occupation prisons and to all the heroic Palestinian people.”

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, praised Tamimi as a “symbol of Palestinian pride and dignity,” adding that she represents the “resilience and resistance” of the Palestinian people. He also criticized the “so-called American peace envoys” who he said never condemn Israel’s “crimes.”

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt and other White House officials have been effectively blackballed by Ramallah, which was angered by Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his decision to move the US embassy there in May.

On Thursday, Greenblatt slammed the Palestinian leadership for failing to condemn a deadly terror attack in the Israeli settlement of Adam.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, meets Ahed Tamimi after her release from Israeli military jail on July 29, 2018. (Thaer Ghanaim/WAFA)

Tamimi met on Sunday at the Palestinian Authority presidential headquarters in Ramallah with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who called the teenager “a model for the Palestinian struggle.”

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 saw her as bravely standing up to military control over the West Bank, while Israelis accused her family of using her as a pawn.

Following her release release on Sunday, Tamimi was greeted by hundreds of supporters and journalists in Nabi Saleh.

In her first public comments since being released, she thanked her supporters and declared that “the resistance is ongoing.”

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 hoped initially to attend a West Bank university but has also received scholarship offers abroad.

Under the terms of a plea bargain, Ahed was sentenced to eight months in prison and admitted to aggravated assault of an IDF soldier, incitement to violence and disrupting soldiers on two other occasions.

The teen’s cousin Nour was also indicted for her involvement in the quarrel, but she was released in January.

Jacob Magid and AFP contributed to this report.

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