Oct 01 2018
Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teenager jailed for eight months for slapping an Israeli solider, was honoured on Saturday by Spanish football giants Real Madrid.
Tamimi's case made headlines around the world, when the then-16-year-old was filmed hitting an Israeli soldier while refusing to leave her family home in the occupied West Bank's Nabi Saleh, hours after her cousin had been shot in the head by Israel's military.
The footage went viral on Facebook, and when Tamimi and her mother were jailed by Israel using the video as evidence she became a symbol of Palestinian resistance.
Now it appears she has caught the attention of the club of Puskas, Raul and two Ronaldos.
Shortly before Real Madrid's derby match with bitter rivals Atletico Madrid, Tamimi was greeted by Emilio Butragueno, the legendary former forward and top club official.
Tamimi was presented with a Real Madrid shirt with "Ahed" on the back, along with the number nine – commonly used by strikers.
Adding to the luster of the occasion were the multiple Champions League trophies lined up behind her.
The Palestinian, now 17, was invited to visit the Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid's stadium, as she tours European countries with her father.
She has been speaking at several political events in Spain and elsewhere to raise awareness of the Israeli occupation.
Anger and joy
The invitation has clearly rankled Israeli officials, many of whom took to Twitter to vent their discontent.
"A shame! Real Madrid receives a terrorist who incites hatred and violence. What has that to do with the values of the football?!?!," Emmanuel Nahshon, Israeli foreign minister spokesman, tweeted in Spanish.
Similarly, Daniel Kutner, the Israeli ambassador to Spain, declared that he would not be "going to the Bernabeu today".
But for many football fans and supporters of Palestine and Palestinian rights, Tamimi's welcome by the 13-time European champions was a wonderful and heartening sight.
Tamimi's trip to Europe, already proving to be a nightmare for Israeli public relations, was put into doubt earlier this month when it appeared that Israel had banned the teenager from travelling abroad.
Her father Basim Tamimi told Turkey's Anadolu news agency that Palestinian officials had informed the family that Israel wanted to keep her from travelling to foreign countries and speaking on the occupation.
Israeli politicians have previously expressed anger and violent wishes against Tamimi.
In April, Bezalel Smotrich, a member of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party, tweeted: "In my opinion, she should have gotten a bullet, at least in the kneecap. That would have put her under house arrest for the rest of her life."
Tamimi's case is not rare. Approximately 500 to 700 Palestinian minors are detained by Israeli forces every year, according to Defense for Children International.
The United Nations' children's agency has said Israeli ill-treatment of Palestinian minors in detention is 'widespread, systematic and institutionalised'.
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