RAMALLAH - The father of Palestinian teenage protest leader Ahed Tamimi on Tuesday said he has visited his daughter and wife in an Israeli prison for the first time since they were both arrested in December.
Bassem Tamimi said he spoke to his wife and daughter for 45 minutes on Monday, using a telephone as they sat on the other side of a window. He said the Red Cross helped him obtain a permit to make two visits over a three-month period.
"They are good. Their morale is very high," he said. He said his daughter spends her days reading and doing school work, focusing on her English studies.
Ahed Tamimi, who turned 17 behind bars, was arrested after video surfaced of her slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers outside her West Bank home.
She has been charged with assault and incitement - crimes that could potentially lead to years in prison. Her mother has also been charged with incitement.
The case has gained international attention and turned her into a hero for Palestinians.
It also has generated criticism of Israel for prosecuting the teenager, and brought attention to Israel's system of military courts, which has a nearly 100 percent conviction rate for Palestinians put on trial. In contrast, Israeli settlers in the West Bank are subject to Israeli civil law.
Bassem Tamimi said the Israeli military court handling the case upheld its decision to ban journalists from the courtroom, though relatives are permitted to enter.
The trial, set to resume Wednesday in a West Bank military court, is expected to drag on for months, Tamimi said. "It's going to be long, and they are going to suffer tremendously," he said.
B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, issued a report Tuesday criticizing Israel's treatment of minors in its military courts.
It said a series of reforms meant to improve the conditions of minors have had little impact and that they still are frequently cut off from their parents or lawyers, and coerced into admitting to crimes.
"Creating a false façade of a fair legal system that purports to safeguard the rights of minors tried in its courts serves a political goal: legitimizing the occupation and silencing criticism of it," the report said.
The report said that hundreds of Palestinians are tried in military courts each year. Citing Israeli prison service data, it said 356 Palestinian minors were in custody as of Feb. 28.
There was no immediate response from the military to the B'Tselem report.