Update: According to his legal representation, Mohammad Srour will be released on bail.
For Immediate Release:
22 July 2009: Israeli forces arrest Palestinian on his return from testifying to the United Nations in Geneva.
Mohammad Srour was arrested on 20 July 2009 while crossing the Allenby Bridge from Jordan.
Srour and Jonathan Pollack, an Israeli solidarity activist, testified to the United Nations in Geneva on 6 July 2009 about the murder of 2 young men by Israeli forces during a demonstration in Ni’lin.
(Video available: http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=090706, download the video: http://webcast.un.org/ramgen/ondemand/conferences/unhrc/gaza/gaza090706pm1-eng.rm?start=00:35:37&end=01:41:24)
Srour, a member of the Ni’lin Popular Committee Against the Wall, participates in demonstrations that take place against the theft of Ni’lin’s land. He and Pollack were witness to the shooting of 2 Ni’lin residents (Arafat Rateb Khawaje and Mohammed Khawaje) on 28 December 2009, during a demonstration in solidarity with Gaza.
“I know full well that I will pay the price for this testimony when I return at Israeli crossing points in my journey of return after this hearing.” –Mohammad Srour stated at minute 4 of his testimony to the United Nations
Srour was arrested at the border crossing of the Allenby Bridge and taken to Ofer prison. On Wednesday, he was interrogated by Israeli forces and his lawyer has requested an urgent hearing for Thursday. He will likely be taken to court on Thursday, 23 July 2009 to hear the charges against him.
The West Bank village of Ni’lin has been demonstrating since the Israeli government began for a second time to construct the Wall on village lands in May 2008. To date, Israeli forces have killed 5 residents of Ni’lin and critically injured 1 American solidarity activist. According to local medics who volunteer with the Palestinian Red Crescent, over 450 people have been injured during demonstrations as of April 2009.
Visibly, the violence from Israeli forces dramatically increased during and after the 22-day assault on Gaza that began on 27 December 2008. Israeli forces have killed 3 demonstrators since the beginning of the Gaza assault in Ni’lin. Additionally, the Israeli army has introduced new weapons against demonstrators; using the high-velocity tear gas projectile and a 0.22 calibre live ammunition shot by sniper fire as a means of crowd dispersal.
Additionally, Israeli arrest and intimidation campaigns on the villages that demonstrate against the Wall, have led to the arrests of over 76 Palestinians in Ni’lin alone.
- 5 June 2009: Yousef Akil Srour (36) was shot in the chest with 0.22 caliber live ammunition and pronounced dead upon arrival at a Ramallah hospital.
- 13 March 2009: Tristan Anderson (37), an American citizen, was shot in the head with a high velocity tear gas projectile. He is currently at Tel Hashomer hospital with uncertain prospects for his recovery.
- 28 December 2008: Mohammed Khawaje (20) was shot in the head with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition. He died in a Ramallah hospital 3 days later on 31 December 2008.
- 28 December 2008: Arafat Rateb Khawaje (22) was shot in the back with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition and pronounced dead upon arrival at a Ramallah hospital.
- 30 July 2008: Yousef Amira (17) was shot in the head with two rubber coated steel bullets. He died in a Ramallah hospital 5 days later on 4 August 2008.
- 29 July 2008: Ahmed Mousa (10) was shot in the forehead with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition and pronounced dead upon arrival at a Ramallah hospital.
In total, 38 people have been shot by Israeli forces with live ammunition in Ni’lin: 9 were shot with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition and 29 were shot with 0.22 caliber live ammunition.
Since May 2008, residents of Ni’lin have been organizing and participating in unarmed demonstrations against construction of the Apartheid Wall. Despite being deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004, the Occupation continues to build the Wall, further annexing Palestinian land.
Ni’lin will lose approximately 2,500 dunums of agricultural land when construction of the Wall is completed. Israel annexed 40,000 of Ni’lin’s 58,000 dunums in 1948. After the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, the illegal settlements and infrastructure of Kiryat Sefer, Mattityahu and Maccabim were built on village lands and Ni’lin lost another 8,000 dunums. Of the remaining 10,000 dunums, the Occupation will confiscate 2,500 for the Wall and 200 for a tunnel to be built under the segregated settler-only road 446. Ni’lin will be left with 7,300 dunums.