More than 200 people gathered in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal on the evening of Jan. 5 to demand the release by Israel of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi. Literature onTamimi’s case was handed out to passers-by, and many people stopped to hear the speakers while traveling through the station. Organizers believe events like these are vital to changing public opinion, which has dramatically been shifting in favor of the Palestinians the past few years.
Free Ahed and all political prisoners!
The Palestinian teenager was arrested on Dec. 19, and has been held ever since. She has been charged with 12 crimes and could face years in prison. Like other prisoners, she will face an unjust court system that routinely imprisons Palestinians and denies them fair trials.
While Ahed has been a symbol of resistance in Palestine for some time now, she become known around the world with the circulation of a video of her bravely slapping an Israeli occupation soldier. What many do not know is that her slapping the soldier was a response to the soldier slapping the young girl himself, shortly after IDF forces had shot her 14 year old cousin, leaving him in a medically induced coma.
“This is not assault,” explained Nerdeen Kiswani from NYC Students for Justice in Palestine. “This is self defense. The same self defense that Palestinians have been engaging in since 1948 when their land was stolen… The Tamimi family is being severely targeted now because they are a symbol of resistance.”
400 Palestinian children in Israeli jails
While Tamimi is not the first of her family to be be attacked by the Israeli state, she is not the only child either. Over 400 Palestinian children are being held by Israel, many facing the same human rights violations that Palestinian adults face in Israeli prison. From jailing children to shooting old women in the head there never seems to be a shortage on stories of Israeli forces committing horrific acts.
Dari Rodriguez, a member of the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) who recently visited Palestine and met with the Tamimi family, told the crowd that these brutal acts are part of Israel’s strategy against the Palestinians. “These intentional attacks on children, on the elderly, and on disabled folks are meant to scare. It’s meant to stop people from fighting back. This is a desperate, evil and spiteful strategy meant to interfere with and interrupt the resistance.”
Many human rights groups attended this action, including Samdioun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, NYC Students for Justice in Palestine, ANSWER Coalition, Code Pink, Workers World Party, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Four rightwing counter protesters showed up as well.
With these countless examples of brutality, Palestinians have shown countless examples of bravery and persistence. Just like Ahed, many Palestinians are determined to keep resisting and refusing to stop until their homeland is liberated. Around the world it is important we keep holding events like these, showing solidarity and echoing these brave voices as loud as we can. Free all Palestinian political prisoners and free Palestine!