Israel releases Italians who painted mural of Ahed Tamimi

Israel releases Italians who painted mural of Ahed Tamimi
2 min read
29 July, 2018
Israel released two Italians who had painted a mural of Ahed Tamimi on the separation wall.
The 13 foot image near Bethlehem in the West Bank depicts 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi (Getty)
Israeli police on Sunday freed two Italians arrested for painting a giant mural of a Palestinian teenager seen as a symbol of resistance on the separation wall in the occupied West Bank, Italian and Israeli authorities said.

"The two Italians suspected of vandalising the security fence in the Bethlehem area" have been released, Israeli police said in a statement.

"But their visas have been cancelled and they must leave Israel within 72 hours... if they fail to comply they will be expelled", the police added.     

A Palestinian who had been arrested with the Italians on Saturday was also freed, since he was not strongly involved in their activities, the statement said.

Italy's foreign minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said in a statement Sunday night he had "learned with relief... (that) the two Italian citizens arrested in Israel will quickly be able to return to Italy".   

The roughly four-metre (13 foot) image near Bethlehem in the West Bank depicts 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi.

Tamimi herself was released from prison Sunday after an eight-month sentence for slapping two Israeli soldiers, an episode captured on video.

Israeli border police said they had arrested the two Italians and a Palestinian - all masked - on Saturday after they "illegally drew on the wall". 

"When border policemen took action to arrest them, they tried to escape in their car, which was stopped by the forces," the police said in a statement.

On Wednesday, a man drawing the mural had identified himself as Italian street artist Jorit Agoch.

A message was posted to a Facebook page under his name saying he had been arrested and pleading for help.

On Sunday, Tamimi and her mother Nariman - who had also been sentenced to eight months in custody - were taken from the Sharon prison inside Israel to their home village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinians see Tamimi as a symbol of resistance to Israeli occupation of the West Bank and she was greeted by a crowd of supporters.