TEL AVIV – Israeli authorities on Sunday threatened to expel two Italian artists from the country over a giant mural they painted of recently imprisoned Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi on the security fence in the West Bank.
The two had their visas rescinded and were told they would face expulsion if they do not leave of their own volition.
Police arrested them on Sunday on “suspicion of vandalizing and damaging the security fence in the Bethlehem area” before transferring them to the Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration.
The two were masked as they “illegally drew on the wall,” border police said in a separate statement.
“When border policemen took action to arrest them, they tried to escape in their car, which was stopped by the forces,” the statement continued.
The immigration authority subsequently chose to cancel “their temporary visas for Israel and allow them to leave the country within 72 hours,” a police statement said.
“If they fail to comply they will be expelled,” police added.
Israeli forces arrest the three Italian artists who painted the mural depicting Ahed Tamimi on the annexation wall in Bethlehem. (video footage ©Baladna Radio) pic.twitter.com/cIxUemXt4X
— Palestine PLO-NAD (@nadplo) July 28, 2018
Police also freed a Palestinian who had been arrested along with the Italians since he was not strongly associated with their activities, the statement said.
Italian 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.”
Tamimi, who was jailed for seven months along with her mother for slapping Israeli soldiers in an incident captured on video, was released Sunday.
Footage of the episode quickly went viral and Tamimi, 17, has since become an icon of Palestinian anti-Israel activism.
Tamimi thanked hundreds of well-wishers in Nabi Saleh who had come to greet her after her release on Sunday, declaring: “The resistance is ongoing.”