Activists gathered near the “Fearless Girl” statue in downtown Manhattan on Tuesday, 26 June for their third monthly protest event to call for the freedom of imprisoned Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi. Ahed, 17, is a leader, with other members of her family, in the indigenous anti-colonial land defense movement in her village of Nabi Saleh in occupied Palestine. She has been jailed by the Israeli occupation since December 2017, after a video of her confronting – and slapping – and Israeli soldier on her family’s land was virally circulated across social media.
Ahed’s mother, Nariman, is imprisoned with her in HaSharon prison, serving an 8-month sentence alongside her daughter. Her case has drawn widespread international attention and protests around the world. At the same time, her family in Nabi Saleh and the neighboring village of Deir Nitham have continued to face intense attacks by the Israeli occupation forces, even as they stave off attempts to claim their land for the nearby illegal colonial settlement of Halamish. Occupation soldiers killed Izzedine Tamimi in Nabi Saleh in early June, in another example of a so-called arrest raid that was actually an assassination raid, similar to the targeting of Basil al-Araj or Moataz Washaha.
Most recently, imprisoned Palestinian teen Hassan Tamimi, from Deir Nitham, lost his eyesight after he was one of dozens of Tamimi family members seized by occupation forces. He has a lifelong medical condition that requires him to have medication and a strict vegetarian diet. When arrested by Israeli occupation forces, he was denied medication and his special diet and became so ill that he entered a coma despite the specific pleas of his mother and family. He lost virtually all of his eyesight as a result; the Israeli prsion administration then released Hassan in an attempt to evade responsibility for the damage they did to the 18-year-old’s life and health. His father noted that he still faces the threat of being returned to prison, especially if his health improves.
The New York protest, organized by activists with Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and other local organizations, included the dressing of the famous statue, which faces the Wall Street Bull, in a kuffiyeh, “Free Palestine” cap and Palestine flag scarf worn as a sash. Participants distributed flyers and information about Ahed’s case and the imprisonment of Palestinian children while holding signs and posters demanding freedom for Ahed Tamimi and all Palestinian prisoners.
Located in this prime tourist location, the action drew the attention of a wide range of New Yorkers and visitors, many of whom chose to be photographed with the statue dressed as Ahed. Many international tourists had heard about Ahed’s case, including a British journalist visiting the city with his family.
The protest also received great support from passers-by and cars on the road, many of whom honked in support of the action. Children passing by were especially interested, as demonstrators distributed information to their families about the imprisonment of hundreds of Palestinian children in Israeli jails.
Joining the activists at the protest were a group of anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews from the Neturei Karta, who brought signs and banners espousing their support, from a religious perspective, for Palestinian liberation and their opposition to the Israeli state.
Following the action, participants marched in a group to Foley Square to join a rally against the Supreme Court ruling upholding U.S. President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban,” a travel ban targeting citizens of countries under attack by U.S. imperialism, including Iran, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Libya, Somalia and the DPRK (North Korea). The mass protest was attended by large crowds, who marched in protest following the rally.