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Members and supporters of Hastings PSC gathered in the town centre last week to show solidarity with imprisoned schoolgirl Ahed Tamini (photo: Laurie Holden).

Members and supporters of Hastings PSC gathered in the town centre last week to show solidarity with imprisoned Palestinian schoolgirl Ahed Tamimi (photo: Laurie Holden).

PSC vigil for jailed schoolgirl Ahed Tamimi

News of the imprisonment of Palestinian schoolgirl Ahed Tamimi in an Israeli military jail has sparked international outrage. Laurie Holden of the Hastings Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) reports on the local campaign to support her.

We received a last-minute call from a coalition of Palestinian organisations for international solidarity with Ahed on the day before her seventeenth birthday. We decided to hold a one-hour vigil for her outside Debenhams in the town centre on Tuesday 30 January, but were able to give just one day’s notice to our members and contacts in the form of an online newsletter and a Facebook post.

We were pleasantly surprised that, despite the cold January weather and the short notice, we attracted an encouraging number of supporters. In addition, there was a steady stream of visitors to the vigil, local people wanting to find out more about Ahed’s arrest. On the same day, there were actions elsewhere throughout the world – in Athens, Berlin, Regina (Canada), Johannesburg, Lauderdale (Florida), Mississippi, Los Angeles, Perth (Australia) and Derry – to name just a few.

Land seizure of Nabi Saleh

Ahed lives in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh. Large amounts of the villagers’ land and their fresh water spring have been seized by the nearby Israeli settlement of Halamish, deemed illegal under international law. The villagers take part in regular demonstrations against this land theft. In response, the Israeli military forces have shot dead three villagers and carried out numerous assaults. In addition, there have been violent attacks by the settlers.

A week before Christmas, the Israeli military shot Ahed’s 15-year-old cousin Mohammed point-blank in the face with a rubber bullet. He was placed in an artificial coma for 72 hours; part of his left skull had to be removed by surgeons, with the bone to be replaced. A video of his injuries can be seen here. It was shortly after this that Israeli military forces entered the Tamimi’s courtyard.

After they pushed Ahed, she slapped the soldiers back. It was later on that soldiers arrested her – in the middle of the night. She has been charged with 12 offences, including five counts of assaulting a soldier, one count of throwing stones and several other charges ranging from threatening a soldier to incitement.

99.74% conviction rate

Israel is the only country that prosecutes children in military courts – between 500 and 700 each year. As there is a 99.74% conviction rate in these courts, there is a real concern that Ahed could end up imprisoned for several years. While this threat to Ahed remains, the international support for her is set to continue. One petition has received 1.6 million signatures at the time of writing.

Since Ahed was arrested, the Hastings branch of the PSC has publicised her imprisonment at the weekly information stall in the town centre. Writing to MPs and ministers is always useful. Here is an email sent to a Minister of State by a local supporter of Palestinian rights. A mass card-writing campaign to Ahed has started – write to her  in prison at Ahed Tamimi, HaSharon Prison Ben Yehuda, P.O. Box 7, 40 330, Israel.

Ultimately, Israel’s perpetual breach of international law has to end – its military occupation, the separation wall, illegal settlements, its refusal to allow the return of refugees. In response to Israel’s intransigence, Palestinian organisations have called for “boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS)” to put non-violent pressure on Israel (in the same way that boycotts played a crucial part in ending apartheid in South Africa).

Churches, universities, businesses, banks and pension funds have already imposed penalties on Israel. The cultural and academic boycott has notched up some notable successes thanks to Annie Lennox, Sinéad O’Connor, Roger Waters and Professor Stephen Hawking to name just a few. This is a fast growing campaign that we can all support and get involved with.

Hastings PSC website and Facebook page.

 

Posted 22:27 Tuesday, Feb 6, 2018 In: Politics


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