(Billboards are located on Interstate 95 in CT. One is in Bridgeport, CT and the other is in Stratford, Ct.)
Palestine Advocacy Projectâ€™s latest billboard ad campaign intends to raise awareness about Ahed Tamimi, the 17-year-old Palestinian activist who now faces up to 10 years in Israelâ€™s military prison over an altercation with Israeli soldiers. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for Ahedâ€™s immediate release.
On December 19 at 3AM, PNN rthe Israeli military raided and ransacked Ahedâ€™s home, arresting her along with her mother and cousin, and charged Ahed with 12 criminal counts, including assault and incitement.
During a protest, Ahedâ€™s 14-year-old cousin was shot in the head at close range by an Israeli soldier. Israeli soldiers then invaded the Tamimi familyâ€™s home and threatened the entire family. Ahed demanded the soldiers leave .
After they refused, the unarmed Ahed slapped one of the heavily armed soldiers. It is clear from a video that later went viral, Ahed posed no actual threat to these soldiers.
The first billboard compares the apartheid regime in Israel with the former apartheid regime in South Africa. The text strikes through the name of Nelson Mandela and instead proposes Ahed Tamimi just below.
Both Nelson Mandela (imprisoned for 27 years by South Africaâ€™s apartheid government) and Ahed symbolize courageous resistance to a repressive government and apartheid systems. Ahed, who spent her 17th birthday in military prison, was arrested without charge and can be held up to 6 month with no due process rights, like so many other Palestinians. When she does go to trial, she will be in a court that has a 99.74% percent conviction rate for Palestinians. Israelâ€™s settlers operate with virtual impunity in the Occupied West Bank.
Mona Abdo an activist with the Palestine Advocacy Project said, â€śLike Nelson Mandela for South Africa during apartheid, Ahed Tamimi has become a symbol of Palestineâ€™s 50 years of resistance to Israeliâ€™s brutal occupation and apartheid system. The world called for the release of Nelson Mandela then, and now we must call for the release of Ahed Tamimi and the 350 other child prisoners held in Israelâ€™s military prisons.â€ť
The second billboard picks up the focus on freeing the child prisoners in Israeli military prisons. According to Defense for Children International-Palestine, â€śIsrael has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes an estimated 500 to 700 children each year in military courts lacking fundamental fair trial rightsâ€ť.
Additionally, the UN Childrenâ€™s Fund (UNICEF) reports that ill treatment in the Israeli military detention system remains â€świdespread, systematic, and institutionalized throughout the process.â€ť
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.