On Dec. 19, while many of us were spending time at home with our families and loved ones, Israel Defense Forces troops were raiding the home of Ahed Tamimi in order to arrest her. Her crime? A slap in the face of an Israeli soldier who represents the occupying force that has dictated every aspect of her life since birth. Only an hour earlier, a soldier — part of the same force — shot her cousin Mohammed, putting him in a coma.
A 17-year-old girl from Nabi Saleh, Occupied Palestine, Tamimi has spent every second of her life resisting the Israeli occupation. In her words: “I see settlers every day, sitting, swimming and playing on my land while I am afraid one of us will be killed.”
After being arrested in the middle of the night, the family’s computers and cameras were confiscated from their home; Tamimi’s brother and mother were also allegedly beat during the raid. Tamimi is now being held at Ofer Prison, an Israeli detention facility. To make matters worse, without a permit from the Israeli government, her own father cannot visit her. As if to steal even more of her childhood away from her, Israeli courts originally first set her trial for Jan. 31 — Tamimi’s 17th birthday. Her birthday present this year was a delayed trial now rescheduled for Feb. 13.
Israeli forces didn’t stop with just Tamimi; following her arrest, Tamimi’s mother Nariman and cousins Mohammed, Nour, Izz and Moatasem, as well as her father Bassem have also been arrested.
Tamimi’s case is not an isolated incident. In our opinion, it is representative of the policies implemented to systematically ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their land. In a mockery of “due process”, Israeli military courts have a near 100 percent conviction rate. From January to May 2017, 331 Palestinian children have been jailed by Israel, some even without charge or trial. These children’s “crimes”? Defending their families’ homes, their lives and their dignity.
We are grateful to Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, for co-sponsoring the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act, but more must be done. U.S. tax dollars fund and maintain the structure of violence that Tamimi was subjected to. We cannot stay silent while these injustices take place; we demand that our elected representatives vocally address the issues of human rights violations, mass incarceration and military occupations of indigenous peoples in the United States and around the world. We ask that Lee work proactively to pass this bill and use her position to spread awareness about the United States’ direct complicity in Tamimi’s case and others like her.
If the UC Board of Regents had any form of accountability to the students it claims to represent, we would also call on them to divest from companies that profit from and are complicit in the Israeli apartheid regime. With a tuition hike looming on the horizons, it’s important to understand that this is where our tuition dollars are going. Let’s put our money where our mouth is and divest from companies and regimes that fundamentally go against everything we stand for as individuals. Tamimi’s slap in the face of the Israeli soldier should really be a slap in the face for us all — a much-needed wake up call out of apathy, silence and complicity. If any of us can claim to care about human rights, now is the time to act: for Tamimi and her family, for every child suffering under the violence of occupation and for every Palestinian who dares to demand justice for themselves.
Sandra Alberts, Michael Andrews, Alice Thomas, and Natalie Anderson are undergraduate students at UC Berkeley.