New York City activists protested on Friday, 24 February in response to the re-sentencing of longest-held Palestinian prisoner Nael Barghouthi, demanding his freedom and urging a boycott of HP products for its complicity and involvement in Israeli imprisonment, occupation and settler colonialism.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network gathered outside the Best Buy electronics store in Union Square, carrying signs and chanting for freedom for Barghouthi and his fellow Palestinian prisoners. They distributed leaflets and information about the involvement of Hewlett-Packard (HP) corporations in contracting with the Israel Prison Service as well as other Israeli state entities for technology that enables the running of checkpoints, settlements, prison and other infrastructure of colonialism and occupation.
On Wednesday, 22 February, the Israeli occupation Ofer military court reimposed the original prison sentence of life plus 18 years against Palestinian prisoner Nael Barghouthi. Barghouthi has spent 36 years in Israeli prison and is the longest-held Palestinian prisoner, originally released in October 2011 as part of the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange with over 1,000 fellow Palestinian political prisoners. At the time of his release, he had been the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner after 34 years of imprisonment.
He was re-arrested by Israeli occupation forces in June 2014 alongside dozens of former prisoners released in the exchange; under Israeli military order 1651, former Palestinian prisoners released in such an exchange can have their former sentences reimposed on the basis of “secret evidence” by an Israeli military commission.
Nearly 60 Palestinian prisoners have had their original sentences reimposed, mostly on the basis of association with members of “prohibited organizations,” which include every major Palestinian political party. However, Barghouthi was sentenced to 30 months in Israeli prison. On 17 December, Barghouthi’s 30-month sentence expired, yet he was denied release on the basis of an appeal filed by the Israeli military prosecution calling for the reimposition of his original life sentence plus 18 years. He was originally imprisoned on the basis of participating in a commando operation with fellow Fateh fighters that killed one Israeli settler near the illegal West Bank settlement of Halamish.
Barghouthi’s wife, Iman Nafie, a fellow former prisoner, his family and his lawyers have pledged to continue the struggle. The Samidoun protest is part of an international campaign to demand the release of Barghouthi and his fellow re-imprisoned Palestinian prisoners.
Samidoun activists also joined a protest on Sunday, 26 February in New York City’s Grand Central Station denouncing the sentencing of Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for murdering a wounded Palestinian in his custody, Abdel-Fattah al-Sharif; his killing was captured on video by Palestinian human rights activist Imad Abu Shamsiyeh. The brief sentencing of Azaria, who openly murdered a captive Palestinian, has been widely contrasted to the sentencing of Palestinians, including children sentenced for several years for stone-throwing. The protest denounced the sentencing of Azaria as part of the Israeli apartheid settler-colonial system of racist injustice.
The next Samidoun protest in New York City will take place on Friday, 3 March, highlighting the struggles of Palestinian women prisoners and in particular the case of Lena Jarbouni, the longest-held Palestinian woman prisoner, at 5:30 pm outside the Best Buy in Union Square. Other upcoming actions include the International Women’s Strike and a protest on Tuesday, 14 March outside the New York Hilton Midtown against the “Friends of the Israel Defense Forces” annual gala, where fanatical Zionists gather each year alongside Israeli soldiers to raise tens of millions of dollars to support Israel’s political imprisonment and other war crimes against occupied Palestinians. The protest will take place at 5:30 pm outside the hotel and is endorsed by a number of organizations, including Al-Awda NY, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, the Committee to Stop FBI Reception NYC, International Action Center, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, NY4Palestine and the United National Antiwar Coalition.