January 20th, 2008
Over 2 years ago the people of Bilin have established an “outpost” on their land, on the west side of the current rout of the wall. The point was to establish their presence on the ground to protect it from theft by the Israeli authorities or their proxies. Recently there has been a new wave of harassments of people staying at the outpost or working the land around it. See: https://israel.indymedia.org/newswire/display/8345/index.php
This morning Ayed Burnat was arrested while working the land near the outpost. His arrest follows the detention of several other farmers for the crime of tilling their land. His case he did not even involve such an offense. Instead Burnat was arrested for collecting stones for making a stone wall, in effect stealing stones from his own land.
Like at many other places, land belonging to the village of Bilin was declared state land using an old Ottoman law. The effect of such a designation is that the land is reserved for the use of Jews only and that Palestinians who don’t respect the laws which steal their land are subject to prosecution in military court. One of the men who shows extra dedication to applying Israeli rules is Avishai
Reichman, the security coordinator for the settlement neighborhood of “Matityahu east”. Reichman, who claims to have good relations with many people in Bilin and wants nothing more than good relations with his neighbors, nevertheless goes outside the settlement and after farmers like Burnat (to say nothing of living on their lands in the first place.)
This morning Reichman called the police and had Burnat arrested on suspicion of stealing curb stones from the construction site. If for the sake of argument a defense against the accusation of theft from a settlement construction site is needed, then one can point out that the stones were visibly broken and were collected from the scrap heap. Besides, Burnat offered to return the stones to the place he found them but that did not prevent his arrest. The police who arrested him were from the same police force which two weeks earlier failed to arrest settlers who placed a temporary structure on on Palestinian land and assaulted one of the Palestinians who laid down on the ground to try to prevent the structure from being lowered. See: https://israel.indymedia.org/newswire/display/8283/index.php
At the end of a day spent at the police station, Burnat was released on 500 shekels bail and an invitations to appear in military court.