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South Africa marks birthday of jailed Palestinian teen

February 1, 2018 at 8:00 pm

South Africans gathered late Wednesday in Johannesburg to commemorate the 17th birthday of Palestinian activist Ahed al-Tamimi who was detained by Israeli security forces last year.

Organizers launched a photo exhibition, which will last for a month, to celebrate her life.

Al-Tamimi was arrested after a video spread on social media showing her purportedly hitting two Israeli security officers who had stormed her home in the occupied West Bank.

South African activists called on Israeli authorities to release al-Tamimi and all child prisoners.

‘‘Ahed will remain an inspiration for liberation movements across the world,’’ Ismail Moola of the Palestine Solidarity Alliance told agencies.

Read: Tamimis mock secret Israeli investigation into whether they’re a ‘real family’

‘‘It is inspiring to see how a 17-year-old girl is not afraid to fight for the freedom of her country,” he said.

The exhibition features photos of resistance by al-Tamimi and other Palestinians protesting the Israeli occupation.

Turkey reaffirms support

Speaking at the launch of the exhibition, Turkey’s Ambassador to South Africa Elif Comoglu Ulgen expressed her country’s solidarity with Palestine.

Ulgen said images of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan receiving a Palestinian youth with Down syndrome brought warmth to the hearts of Turkish people.

Mohamed al-Taweel had been detained by Israeli forces during protests last year against US President Donald Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He was later released following international pressure and traveled to Turkey for treatment.

Read: Amnesty International launches urgent appeal to release Ahed Tamimi

Ulgen described al-Tamimi as a special girl who had received Turkey’s Handala Courage Award in 2012 when she was just 13 years old

‘‘She was received by President Erdoğan for her courageous conscious full stance,’’ she said, adding today al-Tamimi has become an icon of the Palestinian identity and defiance.

The envoy said the US’ unilateral decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel does not only violate international law but is also a heavy blow struck against ‘our civilization’.