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NYC protest says: ‘End the occupation of Palestine, release all political prisoners!’

As Israel escalates its violent attacks on Palestinians this Ramadan and Easter season, New Yorkers came together in Manhattan on April 20 to show their solidarity. Approximately 150 people attended the demonstration sponsored by organizations including Within Our Lifetime, Samidoun, Palestinian Youth Movement and Decolonize This Place. The march was attended by members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. 

The convergence of holidays in the three Abrahamic religions was observed for the first time in almost 30 years, bringing Muslims, Christians, and Jews together to denounce the brutal military occupation of the Palestinian people. Rabbi Weiss from the religious group Neturei Karta, declared, “We are Jews…who uphold the words of the Torah…that Zionists are using as a tool to occupy, to silence, to intimidate, to strike fear into people around the world and accuse them of being anti-Semitic if they speak up for the people of Palestine… We are here…to let the world hear what the Torah says and that is one thing, and one thing only: …the occupation is unacceptable!” 

‘Release Ahmad Manasra!’

Beyond the horrific attacks at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the bombings in Gaza, numerous speakers brought attention to the unjust Israeli imprisonment of Palestinians, especially children. Calls are growing for the immediate release of Ahmad Manasra, now 21-years-old, who was arrested at the age of 13 for being with his cousin, Hassan, when Hassan allegedly stabbed two Israeli settlers near an illegal Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem. 

His 15-year-old cousin was shot dead, and Manasra was beaten by an Israeli mob and run over with a car by an Israeli driver, leaving him with a skull fracture and internal bleeding. Despite acknowledging that Manasra did not participate in the stabbings, Israeli courts charged him with attempted murder. After six years of imprisonment that included months of solitary confinement, Manasra was diagnosed with progressively worsening schizophrenia. 

A representative of the Palestine Global Mental Health Network said, “Every year, at least 700 Palestinian children are jailed and go through an apartheid system that makes sure to crush their soul and spirit. It’s a vengeful system that aims to destroy our future. This is a big plan. It’s not only Ahmad Manasra. This is a plan to steal our childhood, to steal our future.” 

A urgency as history repeats itself

The demonstration carried a sense of urgency as Palestinians who witnessed last year’s attacks in Jerusalem and Gaza experienced déja vu. Protestor Hena Mustafa said, “If last year was any indication, things are about to get worse, so we need to have a united front upfront… The more allies we have supporting [us], the better because we need help amplifying our voices, and we need national and international attention … we need [solidarity] even more now than we did before.”

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