Ahed Tamimi, the 17-year-old resistance icon from Palestine was honored by the Spanish soccer giant Real Madrid Saturday.
Before Real Madrid’s derby match with Atletico Madrid, Ahed was greeted by Emilio Butragueno, the legendary former forward and a top club official. She was presented with a Real Madrid shirt with her name written on the back, along with number nine which is commonly used by strikers. Ahed was also invited to visit Real Madrid’s stadium, Santiago Bernabeu.
The celebration of Ahed by the soccer club received a mixed response from the Israeli officials criticized the event. Israeli ambassador to Spain Daniel Kutner took to Twitter to express his discontent and vowed not to visit Santiago Bernabeu.
“Ahed Tamimi is not a peaceful fighter but an advocate of violence and terror. The institutions that received and celebrated her indirectly encourage aggression and not the dialogue and understanding that we need. Today I'm not going to the Bernabéu.”
Meanwhile, supporters and sympathizers of Palestine’s cause and struggle welcomed Real Madrid’s effort in honoring the face of Palestinian resistance. On Sept. 20, Spanish foreign minister Joseph Borrell said during a European Union conference that Spain would push EU to recognize independent Palestine state. If the move fails, the Pedro Sánchez-led government will consider a Spain-only recognition, a decision which was welcomed by the Arab League and the Palestinian leadership.
The teenager was imprisoned for eight months for slapping two Israeli occupation soldiers who shot her 15-year-old cousin and were harassing her family in the yard of their home in the Nabi Saleh village of the occupied West Bank. She and her mother Nariman were released from Israeli prison in late July. Since mid-September, Ahed has been traveling through several countries in Europe, speaking about the illegal occupation of Palestine, the precarity of Palestinians and their hope for a free Palestine in the future.
Earlier in September, Ahed spoke in political events in France and Greece. The activist was initially banned from traveling abroad by Israeli authorities. But despite every obstacle, she and her father, Bassem Tamimi managed to arrive into Europe in order to garner larger international solidarity for the Palestinian cause.