Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, whose arrest last year drew international condemnation, has been honoured by Spanish football club Real Madrid after she was released from Israeli prison.
The 17-year-old was arrested in December 2017 after a video of her slapping and hitting two Israeli soldiers outside of her house in the village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank went viral.
Tamimi and her father Basim Tamimi were hosted at the side’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium in the Spanish capital on Saturday, where she was greeted by former striker Emilio Butragueno and presented with a personalised football jersey.
The 17-year-old activist is currently in Europe for a series of political events.
She was released from prison in late July after being sentenced to eight months behind bars for an altercation with Israeli soldiers in front of her house.
She has emerged as a symbol of Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation. Her case has brought global attention to the issue of detention of Palestinian children by Israeli forces.
Writing for Al Jazeera, Palestinian author Ramzy Baroud said Tamimi is “an icon of a rebellious young generation of Palestinians”.
“After spending eight months in jail for confronting Israeli occupation soldiers in her backyard, Ahed emerged even stronger and more determined to convey the pains and struggles of her people to the world,” he wrote last month.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahson lashed out at Real Madrid’s decision to host the teenager on Twitter, calling it “an embarrassment”.
“Real Madrid hosts a terrorist who incites hate and violence. What does that have to do with football values!??! [Angry emoji],” he said.
Israel’s ambassador to Spain Daniel Kutner also blasted the football club, calling their reception of Tamimi an indirect encouragement of aggression.
“Ahed Tamimi does not fight for peace, she defends violence and terror, the institutions that have received and celebrated her indirectly encourage aggression and not the dialogue and understanding that we need. Today I won’t go to Bernabeu [stadium],” he said on Twitter.
Others celebrated Real Madrid’s decision to host the activist.