A group of Israeli soldiers came into my compound at three o’clock in the morning, surrounded my house, and then started kicking the gate that leads into my yard. My family woke up but we did not answer the door at this point.
The soldiers proceeded through the gate into my yard and began knocking on the door to my house. At this moment I called my friend Mohammad Khateeb to tell him what was happening because a journalist named Shai Barock was sleeping at his house. After that I heard the soldiers say, “Abedallah, Abedallah,” and I answered them by asking, “What do you want?” The commander answered, “We want you to come downstairs to the front door.” I did this, and on my way downstairs to see them I went to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) apartment on the first floor of my home and told them that the army had surrounded the house. They woke up and followed me to the front door.
I went outside to find many soldiers all over my yard. The commander said, “Are you Abedallah Abu Rahma?” I said, “Yes.” He responded, “You should come to see Commander Rizek tomorrow at noon at the Ofer military base.” I said, “I was in jail one week ago. What does he want from me now? Why didn’t he ask me to come see him then? And why are you coming at this hour to speak with me? Why didn’t you come during the day?” The commander answered, “These decisions are up to me. You must come tomorrow, and if you do not, you may face legal repercussions.”
I did what the commander asked of me. At noon the following day, I went to Ofer jail accompanied by Allison, a member of ISM. After we arrived we called Yael Barda, an Israeli legal advocate, as well as many Israeli activists who gave us much advice.
I waited in the front of the Shabak station beginning at noon, and after a few minutes the legal advocate arrived. She asked me what had happened the night before and looked at the piece of paper given to me by the commander ordering me to come the following day to see Commander Rizek. Yael joked about the fact that the paper was so informal, and then she began shouting at the soldiers, saying that she wanted to go inside to ask Commander Rizek what he wanted from a person sleeping in his house in the middle of the night, why he had to disturb me.
Yael also added that the soldiers came in an illegal way and that now they were making me wait out in the sun without seeing Commander Rizek. This continued until 2 pm. After that a soldier called my name and said he wanted me to go inside to the commander. He refused to allow the advocate to come with me and told her that that is forbidden.
I went inside the gate to have one soldier search me and take everything from me that was in my pockets. Afterwards, one said, “What is all the noise that you made outside? You were provoking the people outside against us. Who is this whore you brought with you?” I said to him, “She is not a whore, she is my advocate.” He replied, “Why is she with you?” I answered, “Because you are saying that Israel is a state that operates by law and I did not do anything illegal. My advocate counseled me to abide by the law.” He responded, “Who told you this? Israel does not operate by laws, and especially here in the Shabak there are no laws. You know this.”
The soldier said to me, “Where are you going?” I said, “To Commander Rizek.” He then said to another soldier, the one who searched me, who was standing with him, “Tell Rizek that I want to meet him.”
Rizek then came and talked to this soldier and then they both approached me. Rizek said, “Ask him where his ID is.” I said, “You took it from me when I arrived.” Rizek then began to make trouble. “It is not here,” he said. The soldier then asked me, “Are you sure that you handed it to us?” He repeated the question several times. I said, “This is not up to me. I handed my ID to you, and they said to me, “Follow us.”
I then entered Commander Rizek’s office, where Rizek sat behind his desk and another soldier sat across the room from him. He said, “You are making a lot of trouble. Where were you last week?” I said, “In Ofer jail.” He responded by asking, “Why?” I answered, “I was taken from a nonviolent demonstration against the wall.” He replied, “What happened after that?” I answered, “I was released because I did not break the law.” He said, “You are saying you were at a demonstration and you did not make any mistakes?” I answered, “The judge who decided my case said I did not break the law or make any mistakes.” He replied, “What’s your job? Where do you work and what is your salary?”
I answered, “I am a teacher in Birzeit. My salary is..” He answered, “In the West Bank this is enough to allow you to live a good life.” I answered, “Yes, thank God that I have some left to save and I am not in need of anything.”
He then said, “You have organized many demonstrations. This is illegal and you do not gain anything from the demonstrations. Has the route of the wall been changed? You are losing and you will face ramifications for your actions.”
I replied by saying, “What we are organizing is nonviolent demonstrations and this is not illegal according to the Israeli government. Furthermore, what we are doing does not create danger for anyone. It is legal. We carry banners with slogans against the wall and chant against the wall, all of which we are allowed to do. What do you expect from a people whose land is being taken from them? Your army is saying that the land behind the wall is still ours, but in fact soon they will build a fence and gates and not allow anyone to go to this land. Even if what you are saying is true, special permits will be given only to the landowners, our fathers and grandfathers who are unable to work the land. Because of this the land will go unused and the settlers will steal our olive trees and the army will seize the remaining land in order to enlarge the settlements. What can we do? We are simply expressing our resistance to this in these nonviolent demonstrations.”
He replied, “Do you know what happened in Biddu?” I said, “They were organizing nonviolent demonstrations.” He said, “No.” I said, “They moved the wall back.” He said, “No.” I asked, “What do you want?” He said, “Five people were killed there.” I said, “I heard there were five martyrs there.” He said, “Killed not martyrs. Dead. Do you want this to happen in Bil’in as well?”
I said, “Near the beginning of the wall construction an army commander came and advised us not to make any violent resistance because that would never lead to any gains. And yes we took his advice. What we are organizing is nonviolent demonstrations that do not create any danger for anyone.”
He said, “You are saying you did not create violence for the soldier who lost his eye and the many other soldiers who have been injured by stone throwing?”
I said, “In our demonstrations we always ask the soldiers not to shoot tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets at us, and also, we also declare the demonstrations nonviolent. We tell the villagers not to throw stones. What happens is that the soldiers are violent toward the villagers by coming into the village among the houses with their weapons, so some of the villagers reply by throwing stones. This is apart from the demonstrations. On the other hand I am not a military commander. I am a human just like all the other villagers. I express my opinion. I believe in nonviolent resistance and I know that the wall will be destroyed by nonviolent demonstrations.”
He said, “The information we have says that you are urging the people to participate in the demonstrations.”
I said, “What I am doing is legal. I have not broken any laws. As I said to you I am a human and not a commander so I can not order people to participate in demonstrations. All the villagers believe in what they are doing and need not be ordered.”
He said, “But you crossed a boundary in order to be here today. We know everything that you do.”
I said, “Yes, you know every small and large thing. Because of this you must know that the name of Bil’in is ‘the village of peace’ and that the villagers did not take part in any demonstrations before the construction of the wall began. The wall is choking us. What is happening is like a person squeezing a balloon until it bursts. There is nothing left for us in our village. I am sure you know that I am 34 years old and there exists no information to prove that anything I have done has been dangerous to Israel. What I am doing is legal and peaceful.”
He said, “What happened in Biddu was that those carrying the loudspeakers are now sleeping in their homes and those who were killed are the losers. I advise you to take care of yourself, your home, and your family. As you said, you live a good life. Continue doing this and do not endanger yourself. We have a lot of information about you.”
He then said I could leave and returned my ID.