New York, NY – About 40 protesters gathered at Lexington and 65th, the location of the Palestinian Mission, to join an international day of action demanding justice for Basel Al-Araj and an end of the collaboration between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israeli forces. The protest was called by the New York chapter of Palestinian Youth Movement.
Basel Al-Araj was a Palestinian youth freedom fighter against the violent and brutal Israeli regime. He and five of his fellow activists were imprisoned by the PA last year. They were tortured and beaten throughout their captivity for planning opposition to Israel. Al-Araj and his comrades launched a hunger strike and were released after eight days. However, once they had secured their release from the PA prison, they were pursued by Israeli forces. While Israel was able to capture four of the six, Al-Araj was able to escape and had been on the run since last year. On March 6, Israeli forces found Al-Araj’s hideout and bombarded it with rockets and bullets. Al-Araj was effectively executed without trial or due process.
Despite an impending blizzard, protesters were in high spirits as they chanted in Arabic and English. One of the chants was, “Israeli Zionists – number one terrorist!”
Towards the end of the protest, people from the crowd went to the center and spoke up regarding Palestine, the Israeli apartheid and the movement in the U.S.
Michela Martinazzi spoke on behalf of the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoners Network and said, “Basel was on the run from the Israeli forces when they found him and extra-judicially executed him. He bravely fought them off for two hours before he died amongst bullets and rocket fire. Basel's unrelenting passion for freedom and justice should be an example for us all. Basel was a hero and freedom fighter. And we have to honor him by securing liberation for Palestine!”
She also reminded the crowd that Samidoun hosts weekly protests on Fridays, where each week a Palestinian political prisoner or liberation fighter is highlighted, and how this week they chose Al-Araj.
The crowd continued to chant for the next hour until it became dark. One of the organizers of the event thanked the crowd and protesters walked away chanting, “We’ll be back!”