On Monday, 18 December, organizers in New York City protested outside the Best Buy electronics store in Union Square to demand freedom for Abdul-Khalik Burnat, a 17-year-old Palestinian from the village of Bil’in seized by the Israeli occupation on 10 December 2017. Abdul-Khalik was arrested with his two friends, Hamzah al-Khatib and Malik Rahdi; the three boys are now facing charges before an Israeli military court with an over 99 percent conviction rate, accused of “damaging” the Israeli apartheid wall.
The protest was organized by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and a number of activists with Al-Awda NY, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, who have been actively organizing around Abdul-Khalik’s case and demanding his freedom, including holding a letter-writing night and distributing a global action alert highlighting his unjust arrest and the detention of over 300 other Palestinian child prisoners.
Participants in the demonstration also highlighted the global call for boycott of Hewlett-Packard (HP) products, many of which are sold by Best Buy, including laptop computers, tablets, printers and printer accessories, because of HP corporations’ involvement in profiteering from, maintaining and developing the IT infrastructure of Israeli colonization, apartheid and occupation. HP corporations maintain databases for the Israel Prison Service, provides IT support for the Israeli occupation navy that attacks Palestinian fishers and imposes the naval siege on Gaza, and developed the Israeli ID card system used at checkpoints and the apartheid wall to repress Palestinian lives.
Demonstrators distributed leaflets and information about the case of Abdul-Khalik and other child prisoners as well as HP’s involvement and complicity in Israeli war crimes and human rights violations. They noted a marked uptick in strong expressions of support and solidarity from passers-by and New Yorkers on the street, many of whom expressed their outrage at U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration purporting to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a declaration that has inspired a Palestinian upsurge of demonstrations and protest and global censure and which underlines the destructive, imperial role of the U.S. in the region.
Sophie from Al-Awda presented a statement:
“We are here today for Abdul Khalik Burnat, a Palestinian minor detained and tortured by Israeli military forces for absolutely no reason except for the fact that he is Palestinian.
Abdul-Khalik was enthusiastically preparing for state exams for the completion of high school, when he and two friends (Hamzah Al-Khatib and Malik Rahdi) were suddenly abducted and detained by Israeli occupation forces while getting pizza during a study break on December 10, 2017.
Abdul Khalik was also targeted because his father, Iyad Burnat, is a well-known activist that leads weekly nonviolent demonstrations that expose Israel’s illegal atrocities against the Palestinian people:
Atrocities that include the depopulation of the Palestinian people, expansion of illegal settlements, checkpoints, home demolitions, mass incarceration, targeting of children, the apartheid wall etc.
Israel doesn’t want you to know their crimes! Israel wants to continue the genocide of the Palestinian people in silence and in secrecy! Imprisonment, torture, abuse and death are the consequences of talking against their occupation and their settler-colonial apartheid!
And in turn, Your silence consents to the imprisonment and murder of Palestinian children!”
Ruwayda from Al-Awda also emphasized the importance of organizing for Abdul-Khalik and fellow imprisoned and detained Palestinians:
“Unfortunately, Abdul-Khalik’s story is all too common. Every year, over 700 Palestinian children face military trials and military imprisonment at the hand of Israeli occupation soldiers. Palestinian children are subject to torture and abuse under interrogation, arbitrary military trials, denial of their right to education, physical and psychological violence and imprisonment without charge or trial on a regular basis.
Israel’s impunity and gross violations of the rights of Palestinian children continue with the silence and complicity of governments around the world, including the U.S. government that not only provides $3 billion in military funding each year to the Israeli occupation state but also recently declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, putting its stamp of approval on ethnic cleansing, settlement construction, land confiscation and blatant violation of international law.
It is up to us to stand up against these brutal violations and abuses against Palestinians held in Israeli prisons! This is nothing new! Israel has been doing this to us since it was created! It is up to us to stand up and take action for minors & children who constantly face danger with the risk of being abducted by Israeli terrorist forces! They know our youth are the future and that’s why they are heavily targeted. Israel is scared of our children!
Free Palestine! Free Abdul-Khalik Burnat! Free all Palestinian prisoners!”
Samidoun in New York will not be organizing its regular Monday protests on 25 December or 1 January, Christmas and New Year’s Day. However, the Israeli occupation has not stopped its attacks on Palestinian children or the Palestinian people as a whole, of course – and response and protest are necessary.
Prominent teen activist Ahed Tamimi, like Abdul-Khalik from a village targeted for land confiscation and settlement construction, was seized by Israeli occupation forces from her home in a pre-dawn raid in the village of Nabi Saleh on 19 December, sparking Palestinian and international protest. Samidoun will be joining with the NY 4 Palestine Coalition, NYC Students for Justice in Palestine, Al-Awda NY and a number of other organizations to protest on Friday, 22 December to demand freedom for Palestinian child prisoners, including Ahed Tamimi and Abdul-Khalik Burnat, and encourages all supporters of Palestine to join the NYC demonstration on Friday or participate in events in their own localities and cities for the Day of Action.