Tampa, FL - 60 people gathered outside the office of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson at the Sam Gibbons Federal Courthouse July 11. They were there to demand Senator Nelson actively support bringing home Tariq Khdeir, the 15-year-old Tampa resident brutally beaten and arrested by Israeli police while in Jerusalem.
Tariq Khdeir was visiting family and attending a wedding in Jerusalem while on summer break. On July 2, his cousin Mohamed Abu Khdeir was kidnapped tortured and burnt alive by Israeli settlers. Later that day, 16-year-old Abu Khdeir’s body was found dumped in a forest with his lungs burnt. The next day an Israeli police intelligence unit attacked Tariq Khdeir, beating him until he passed out. Pictures released by Tariq's family after the Israeli attack showed a very swollen face, bruises and black eyes, making Tariq unrecognizable.
"As we demand to bring Tariq home, Israel is launching air attacks and preparing for a ground invasion of Gaza, Palestine," said Jared Hamil of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression.
Israeli attacks on Palestine are reaching new extremes, with over 100 Palestinians killed in the past week, including 20 children.
"Tariq has still not been charged with a crime," said Sara Ghohestani-Bojd of Tampa Dream Defenders. "We must take action to condemn the crimes happening in Palestine and to demand justice."
Unfortunately the U.S. has a big problem with those who speak in support of the Palestinian people. Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian American survivor of Israeli military torture is going on trial Sept. 8 in Detroit. Odeh won the prestigious Mosaic award from the Chicago Cultural Alliance for her work with Arab American women. Despite living in the U.S. for 20 years and being a citizen for ten, Odeh is being charged with immigration fraud for not writing about the Israeli military physically and sexually torturing her back in 1969.
"The U.S. is targeting anyone who opposes U.S. wars and violence," said Jared Hamil of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. "As the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, we are urging people to support Rasmea Odeh and all other targets of political repression by the U.S."
Some of the groups present included Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Students for Justice in Palestine, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression and Tampa Dream Defenders. Members of the immigrant rights groups Raices en Tampa and United We Dream-Tampa Bay, joined them.
"My Mexican ancestors were murdered and slaughtered by the U.S. My entire life existence is to fight for them and reclaim our stolen land," said Marisol Marquez of Raices en Tampa. "During my lifetime, I will not sit back and watch the Palestinian people be murdered and slaughtered for their land by the Israelis - all with the aid of the U.S."
Tariq Khdeir is currently under house arrest in occupied-Palestine. The Israel government is not commenting on when Khdeir will be released.
"Expect more actions to come from groups like Tampa Bay SDS and Students for Justice in Palestine," said Mazin Abulmeez, a student at the University of South Florida. "While Palestine continues to be occupied and bombed, we have the duty to demand justice for Palestine here in the U.S. since the war against Palestine is being funded by the U.S."
Abulmeez closed the event with chants joined by the crowd, "Gaza, Gaza don't you cry! Palestine will never die!" and "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!"