Human rights experts sounded alarm on Wednesday after an Israeli military judge ruled that 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi—a child who has not been convicted of a crime—must remain in custody during her trial.
While the court ruled there was no "alternative to custody," Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said, "There is nothing that can justify Ahed Tamimi's continued detention."
As the Jerusalem Post notes, viral video of the slapping event shows "there is no sign her small size presented any danger, and the [armed] soldiers mostly ignored her."
Rights groups say Tamimi's arrest and detention are symptomatic of Israel's treatment of Palestinian children.
Her "outrageously excessive" ongoing detention and military court trial, said Mughrabi, are "an example of the institutional discrimination typical of the treatment of Palestinian children who participate in activism against the Israeli occupation and shows how Israel is violating its international human rights obligations towards children."
Echoing that comment, Brad Parker, international advocacy officer and staff attorney for Defense for Children International Palestine, said, "Ahed's pretrial detention, rather than the exception, is the norm in the Israeli military detention system where international law is routinely disregarded, including that detention must only be a measure of last resort.
"It is clear that detaining and prosecuting Palestinian children in Israeli military courts has little to do with justice," Parker said.
"Israeli military law," he added, "denies basic fair trial rights and ill-treatment of child detainees is widespread with nearly three out of four Palestinian children experience some form of physical violence after arrest."
B'tselm, the Israel-based human rights group, also denounced the treatment of Tamimi and Israel's military court system, calling the latter "a major tool of oppression serving Israel's control over Palestinians in the Occupied Territories."