On January 6 over 300 people rallied in front of the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles to demand the release of 16-year old political prisoner Ahed al Tamimi and all other Palestinian prisoners, both children and adult.
The demonstration was called by a coalition of organizations including Al-Awda Palestine Right to Return, LA4Palestine, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return and ANSWER Coalition.
On December 19, 2017, Ahed was kidnapped and taken to a Israeli prison in a night raid conducted by Israeli soldiers in her village of Nabi Salih which stands right outside of Ramallah, West Bank. Her cousin Nour was also taken to custody but later released.
Nabi Salih is known for its weekly protests from 2009 to 2016 which slowed down because of injuries to over 300 community members. Nabi Saleh is only a town of about 600 people and since it is in the occupied West Bank Palestinians must use passports, must go through checkpoints, are subject to violence from the Israeli state and racist settlers who are allowed to attack Palestinians. Israel also controls Palestine’s access to water, food, and electricity.
According to Defense for Children International-Palestine, since the year 2000, over 1,800 children across Occupied Palestine have been murdered by Israel and over 800 have been imprisoned. Palestinians are left with no choice but to fight back, despite lacking any military, they often are left to rocks as weapons.
Ahed currently faces 12 charges for slapping an Israeli soldier, which was caught on video. What was not recorded was that the soldier slapped her first, Ahed’s 15-year old cousin Muhammed Fadel Tamimi had recently been shot in the head and severely injured by an Israeli soldier. Her cousin Nour was also arrested and charged with aggravated assault but later released. Nariman al Tamimi, Ahed’s mother, was arrested days later for protesting her 16-year old child’s arrest.
Ahed is now in prison, along with her mom, and both are often denied food and water as they await trial in the racist Israeli court system known for having a nearly 100 percent conviction rate against Palestinians.
Ahed became world known in 2012 after a photo went viral of her raising a fist in the face of an Israeli soldier after they tried to arrest her brother Wa’Ed.
On Saturday, protesters were greeted via phone by words from Bassem al Tamimi, Palestinian activist and Ahed’s father. Bassem shared his appreciation for the protesters who were rallying in front of the Consulate and he said “Please continue what you are doing. We must continue until Palestine and the whole world is free.”
Protesters responded with chants including: “When Ahed is under attack, what do we do?! Stand up, Fight back!” and “Hey hey, ho ho, apartheid has got to go!”
Other speakers included representatives from Al-Awa Palestinian Right to Return, Mothers in Gaza, LA4Palestine, ANSWER Coalition, CodePink, and Jewish Voice for Peace, and Black Lives Matter Pasadena. Speakers discussed police brutality, war, racism, sexism, consent, violence, and the heroism of Ahed when resisting the racist apartheid state of Israel.
Abir Mahmoud Zowidi, Palestinian mother from Gaza, stated mothers in Palestine wanted a life for their children where they would not have to constantly walk on eggshells or surveilled, beaten, or worse – killed.
Sheila Xiao of the ANSWER Coalition stated, “We are here today because we know that the people of Palestine can and WILL win!”
Protests in support of Palestine are important avenues to give visibility to the struggle of everyone living in Palestine and all Palestinian refugees. Saturday’s demonstration was not just for Ahed and other political prisoners, but it was for the freedom of all of Palestine. The struggle of the Palestinians will never be defeated! Long live Palestine! Free all political prisoners!