Ahed Tamimi Trial

Ahed Tamimi is one of hundreds of children imprisoned in Israel

Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi recently turned 17 in an Israeli prison.

Tamimi was arrested after being charged with alleged assault and incitement for slapping an Israeli Defense Fund soldier trespassing on her family’s property, just days after her cousin had been shot in the head for protesting the occupation of Palestine. As outspoken Palestinian activists, this was one among a slew of arrests, assaults, and threats aimed at the Tamimi family. The behavior shown by Israeli officials – detaining Tamimi’s mother for filming her daughter’s arrest and banning the press from her trial – point toward an administrative effort to bury what is being done to a 17-year-old. Israel is ready to rob a teenager’s young adulthood out of fear that her courage reflects poorly on their systems of governance.

But Ahed Tamimi is by no means the only Palestinian child Israel has imprisoned. From 2014 to 2018, the number of children imprisoned in Israel each year increased by 304, whereas the adult prison population has slightly decreased – in other words, children are a fast-growing demographic in Israeli prisons, a blatant dismissal of the Conventions on the Rights of the Child. Incarcerated Palestinian children weather abuses often worse than many adults in U.S. prison systems. In reports conducted between 2012 and 2015, around 75 percent of children surveyed experienced violence after their arrest, and almost all were denied access to legal counsel and had no parents with them during their interrogation. With a conviction rate of nearly 100 percent, Israel guarantees that any child’s rebuttal to the occupation will almost assuredly be met with detainment in a violent and unsafe environment.

Mild forms of dissent are inevitable when your identity has been under lifelong threat. In the decades since Israel began its occupation, night raids, violence, intimidation tactics,  and ubiquitous checkpoints have become facets of a Palestinian’s quotidien life. The occupation’s impact on children cuts deep, jeopardizing their access to education and overall health. They inherit the trauma of their parents and inhabit their own. Yet a one-time incident of throwing a rock at an Israeli soldier could mean jail time. When you consider the rock-throwing to be a single act of protest against rampant discrimination, it becomes clear that the military state is punishing the retaliation efforts it actually created through its own oppressive techniques.

Fighting for Ahed Tamimi’s justice is a move for all of Palestine’s wrongfully incarcerated children. Centering her struggle makes our feminism more intersectional and more accountable.

While it’s easy to think that stories like Tamimi’s are not central to the battles of American feminism, they are more connected than we may think. The United States gives billions in aid to Israel, drawing straight from our tax dollars. In 2016, we funneled $38 billion to service their military. As of now, there are no sanctions as to how this money is used, allowing it to be funneled into prisons where hundreds of Palestinian minors reside. This lack of transparency is perpetuated by the fact that Israel has two different court systems on the West Bank, one for Palestinians and one for Israeli settlers. This means we fund human rights violations against Palestinians while simultaneously allowing Israeli defendants to walk away unscathed.

Tamimi’s trial resumes March 11th and there are a few things we can do to push for her freedom. The first step is raising awareness, especially considering Western media’s lack of coverage on her case and the Israeli court’s decision to bar the press from her trial. Additionally, you can help push for legislative efforts like this one – which asks that the U.S. government make certain its funds are not being used to harm Palestinian children. Help the bill gain serious traction by calling your representatives and asking them to support it.

The integrity of American activism is threatened when the progressive movement chooses not to act in opposition to these abuses considering how we nourish the machine which commits them. How much systemic child abuse will the Western world stomach before we do something?

Image via Active Stills

Marialexa is a radio producer and writer on women's representation issues. She is based in Los Angeles, CA.

Marialexa is a radio producer and writer based in Los Angeles, CA.

Read more about Marialexa

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