On December 15, a 16 year old girl, Ahed Tamimi, confronted Israeli soldiers who stormed into Nabi Saleh, her village in Palestine. Ahed’s cousin Mohammed had been shot in the head, a nearly fatal wound. Ahed slapped one of the soldiers, for which she has been arrested and remains in jail, already having spent her 17th birthday behind bars. Outside the prison, Ahed has become a symbol of defiance worldwide.
Ahed was born in Nabi Saleh, a village under constant threat. Illegal Israeli settlers have taken over village land just hundreds of feet away. Israeli soldiers sweep the streets in jeeps and shoot teargas and live ammo. Out of 600 villagers, 350 have been wounded with 50 being permanently disabled.
The villagers of Nabi Saleh have lived under direct military occupation for over 50 years, since the state of Israel was established on Palestinian land. In the Occupied Territories, illegal Israeli settlers carry out a campaign of harassment, uprooting farms, destroying houses, and disrupting water supplies – all protected by the guns of Israeli soldiers. All of this is supported by American politicians who sign off on more than two billion dollars in military aid to Israel every year. Israel is an essential ally for the U.S. government, a loaded gun pointed at the rest of the Middle East.
Palestinians from Nabi Saleh and elsewhere have demonstrated against the theft of their land. Every Friday since 2009, men, women and children have gathered in peaceful protest. Through their efforts, the question of Palestine and the experience of Nabi Saleh has become much better known. Ahed’s defiance has inspired and sustained hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. If the villagers of Nabi Saleh can defy the enormous forces against them so can we. They aren’t waiting for our support. They are waiting for us to dismantle the system of capitalism and war that sustains and enables a brutal colonization like the one carried out by the state of Israel.