Ahed Tamimi, a 17-year-old Palestinian activist, was arrested on December 19, 2017, accused of slapping an Israeli soldier in Nabi Salih, West Bank, during protests several days earlier. Nariman, her mother, filmed the incident.  When she went to the police to assist her, she was arrested too. Nariman’s cousin was also arrested and later released.

The protest that led to arrests was triggered by the further expansion of israeli colonies in that territory. During the protest, the same soldier that was allegedly slapped, shot 14-year-old Mohammed Fadl al-Tamimi in the face at close range with a rubber-coated steel bullet, severely wounding him. Mohammed is Ahed’s cousin.

Ahed and Nariman now have to face trial from an Israeli military court. They are accused of 12 different charges including: assaulting a soldier, harming the security of the area, incitement, and other felonies (according to court documents). The trial has received worldwide attention, since the right wing of Israel Parliament has asked for severe punishment for the young girl, who stands as a symbol of Palestinian resistance. Depicted from Israeli media as an hardened criminal for her long-time participation in demonstrations against the occupation, she may be sentenced to more than 10 years in an israeli prison.

These arrests happen in the context of the colonial occupation and expansion policies of the state of Israel.

Settler aggression goes unchecked by Tel Aviv

While Ahed’s arrest is on the front page of most newspapers, little has been reported in the Israeli media on the trial of Israeli settler Amiram Ben Uliel, a 21 year old indicted for burning down the Dawabsha family’s house in the Palestinian village of Duma in July of 2015. Eighteen-month-old baby, Ali Dawabsha, was burned to death. His father and mother, Saad and Riham, died weeks later from injuries sustained in the fire. Now-orphaned  6-year-old Ahmed Dawabsha is the sole survivor with severe burns. This is not an isolated case.

Palestinians face trial in military courts, while civil courts are reserved for settlers. The Israeli association Yesh Din states that military courts convict 99.74% of palestinians charged of a crime, while civil courts convict only 2% of Israelis — an even smaller number if one considers that only 15% of crimes committed by an Israeli on a palestinian actually go to trial.

Colonial expansion

The year 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel, the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and 10th anniversary of the Israeli embargo on Gaza Strip, which affects more than 2 million people.

Israeli authorities are increasing their colonial expansion and infrastructural building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, following U.S. president Donald Trump’s declaration to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

During protests against Trump’s declaration, Israeli soldiers shot live rounds and rubber-coated steel bullets at protesters. In one well-known case, Ibrahim Abu Thurayya, disabled by an Israeli air strike and forced to use a wheelchair, was shot in the head by a sniper during the protests in Gaza City in December. He and other three others were killed during the clashes, despite being unarmed.

“To achieve colonization and get rid of the population of these territories, the Israeli government is deploying violent and lethal forces”, says the last report of Amnesty International. In 2017, the Israeli government relocated — by force — more than 660 people by demolishing their properties; in particular the bedouin and shepherd communities in West Bank.

Some 76 palestinians and one foreign citizen have been killed by israeli army, most of them while “not posing any immediate threat”, the report continues. Some of those were characterized as extrajudicial executions. On February 22,  Palestinian man, Yassin al Saradih, was beaten to death by 20 soldiers in Jericho, West Bank.

The report adds more disturbing details: “in the occupied lands, the Israeli Army and undercover agents regularly use deadly force, killing and injuring thousands.”

Pollution in West Bank and Gaza

What are the current Israel borders? It is not known, since Israel is the only United Nations (UN) member that refuses to officially localize its borders. This is because the border continues to change as more and more Palestinian land is seized. The Israeli government does recognize borders when its affairs come into play.

The B’Tselem group report from December 2013 called, “Made in Israel: exploiting palestinian lands for israeli waste treatment” reveals that Israel installed 15 structures for waste treatment in the occupied West Bank. Six of them deal with hazardous waste. B’Tselem examined four of these establishments as well as a water treatment implant. The report cited contamination of the surrounding soil and water and on the damaging of natural resources.

Since the plants are not in Israel territory, the facilities are run by local councils, who exploit the lack of environmental and safety regulations. The government is not required to make evaluations about the consequences to the people or the environment . The report concludes saying “Israel transformed West Bank into an area of sacrifice and exploitation at the expense of Palestinian residents, who are excluded from any decision-making”.

In Gaza, the water situation has reached catastrophic levels of pollution after the bombings in 2014. Of the 778 underground wells damaged, only 162 have been fixed since the israeli blockade denied entry of materials for repairs. The same problem is faced when trying to build a proper sewage system. “Of the hundreds of desalination plants in Gaza, only a few of them are working because of the bombing” al-Shanti, head of Gaza’s water authority, told The Electronic Intifada. As a result, 96% of the water is unsafe for drinking due to high levels of chloride and nitrates, the UN reports.

Mass incarceration

Ahed Tamimi is not the first teenager to be put in jail by Israel. Actually, there are more than 300 teens in Israeli prisons among 6500 Palestinian prisoners. Some 95% of new Palestinian prisoners are minor or young, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Committee (PPAC). More than 700 Palestinian children are dragged into Israeli courts every year, with a conviction rate of 99 percent. In one of the latest examples, 13-year-old Razan Abu Sal was sentenced on January 16th to four months in prisons for allegedly throwing stones at the occupation army.

“Israeli army violations of rights overlook prisoners’ age”, says the PPAC report. Louay Akka, a lawyer for the committee, added that many young prisoners have been brutally attacked during interrogations. Ahmed Samirat, a 17-year-old palestinian from Yatta (in the Hebron district) was brutalizeed and tortured by 12 soldiers, leaving him unconscious for five hours, PPAC reports. Many others report psychological abuse from the use of solitary confinement to the denial of access to their families or lawyers.

So called “administrative detention” has been used for decades to imprison Palestinians on the basis of “secret files”, without any explicit reason or charge. This detention is valid for six months and can be renewed an unlimited number of times. Although this is permitted by international law for a short period of time, the Israeli government is  employing this measure for sustained periods to incarcerate dissidents and threaten families by arresting parents or children. According to B’Tselem, from 2015 through July 2017, 3,909 administrative detention orders were issued; of these, 2,441 were extensions of existing orders.

Black Lives Matter Cincinnati weighs in

While the Israeli media tries to depict Ahed and her Palestinians sisters and brothers as criminals, the real situation clearly shows that they are trying to resist one of the most cruel and violent occupations in human history, fully supported by the US government (well before Trump) and mischaracterized as the “only democracy in the Middle East”.

BLMC’s 10th principle states, “we believe that to defeat the empire of oppression we must solidarize with all struggles of the oppressed.” The fight of Palestinian people is a fight for freedom. We stand in full solidarity with their struggle for liberation from the Israeli government oppression. There are Israeli working people who support this struggle as well. There will be no peace in the region until there is justice and stolen land is returned under a democratic, secular Palestine.

Free Ahed!

Free all Palestinian prisoners!

Free Palestine!