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Israeli military targeting Palestinian leaders of nonviolent resistance: update

I. Abdullah Abu-Rahme:
Arrested in a nonviolent protest on July 15, 2005. A Judge at Ofer military base on Tuesday, July 26, ruled that Abu-Rhame was “too dangerous” to be released on bail and that he will be held until the end of the proceeding against him.

Abdullah is a prominent leader in the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements which organizes regular nonviolent demonstrations. When he was arrested, he was inside a large prop constructed to look like a bridge along with Israeli and foreign peace activists that carried a banner which read “peace needs bridges not walls.” According to the evidence provided by the prosecution, he was arrested shortly after making the statement “I’m not leaving, this is my home. You go back to Tel Aviv.” He has been charged with assaulting a police officer, incitement, and disrupting public order.

In his initial statement, arresting Officer Yitzchaki claimed Abu-Rhame, hit him in the throat with his elbow and tried to grab his weapon. However, during his third questioning when asked if he was sure that Abu-Rhame tried to take his gun “on purpose.” He replied that he was not. The charge of trying to grab the weapon was subsequently dropped but surprisingly the rest of the testimony by Officer Yitzchaki was not brought into question. The other two charges remain vague.

Video footage clearly illustrating Abdullaha’s innocence had no effect on the judge. What becomes obvious is that Abu-Rhame was actually arrested for organizing non violent resistance to Israel’s annexation barrier in a peaceful manner that clearly illustrated the structure’s illegality. His Attorney Tamar Peleg will appeal the decision.

II. Tamer Al-Khatib:
Arrested in a nonviolent action against the wall on July 20, 2005. Al-Khatib was released on 2,000 shekels bail July 26. He was also ordered to stay at least 300 meters from the wall’s route for the next 30 days by a military judge at Ofer military base.

Tamer was arrested after being beaten out of a metal cylinder that he locked himself into on the route of the wall in the West Bank village of Bil’in along with a group of foreign activists including Israelis. They were all charged with attacking Israeli soldiers.

Video footage taken at the protest absolved Israeli and international activists. Although given a chance to be released the same day, they declined. They chose to stay in jail in solidarity with Tamer who was transferred to a military detention center. He was not expected to see a judge for eight days.

Upon viewing the video footage, the civil judge who dealt with the three foreign peace activists said “it was apparent that it was the soldiers who had beaten the demonstrators and not the other way around”.

III. Rateb Abu-Rahme:
40 year old Abu-Rahme was arrested with his younger brother, Abdullah Abu-Rahme, also at a nonviolent demonstaration. Charges of throwing stones at soldiers were subsequently dropped for “lack of public interest”. A military judge this week dropped the case against Rateb without acknowledging the fact that the military police officer who accused Rateb of throwing stones had confessed to giving false testimony.

After viewing video footage of the Bil’in demonstration, the military judge Captain Daniel Zamir, stated: “there was no reason for the defendants arrest; there was no reason for the shooting that wounded him or the blows he received from the soldier”, adding that “the reality was strangely different, to put it mildly, from the testimony of the prosecution witnesses”.

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