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Bil’in demonstrates against the ongoing Israeli arrest and intimidation campaign

14 August 2009

Hundreds of Palestinians, Israeli, Spanish, French and other international supporters, responded today to the Popular Committee’s call to resist the Wall and to show solidarity with the Bil’in prisoners.

As is the case each week, demonstrators left the village after the midday prayers and marched towards the gate of the Wall separating Bil’in from its lands. Israeli soldiers used large amounts of tear gas, including the “Cannon” which shoots 30 canisters at a time. They also attempted to use the “Skunk”, a gun shooting a foul smelling liquid that sticks to skin and clothing for days, but the Skunk Machine malfunctioned.

Five years after Bil’in began its’ resistance against the Wall and Settlements, the Israeli army is still trying to break the popular non-violent resistance. Amongst injuring over 1300 people at demonstrations, Israeli forces killed Bil’in resident Basem Abu Rahmah on 17 April 2009 by shooting him directly with a high velocity tear gas projectile from around 30 meters.

Update on Bil’in prisoners

The latest wave of arrests and night raids on the West Bank village of Bil’in began on 23 June 2009, To date, Israeli forces have arrested 25 people (most under 18). Eighteen of the 25 remain in detention. Through Israel’s interrogation and intimidation tactics, two of the arrested youth have ‘confessed’ that the Bil’in Popular Committee urges the demonstrators to throw stones. With such ‘confessions’, Israeli forces then proceed to arrest leaders in the community, including Adeeb Abu Rahme and Mohammad Khatib. Adeeb has been in detention since his arrest during a non-violent demonstration on July 10th. Both are being charged with “incitement to damage the security of the area.”

In a military court hearing for Mohammad Khatib on Thursday August 13th, the military prosecution requested to hold Mohammed until the end of legal proceedings against him, a process that can last over a year. The evidence presented against him was a picture the prosecution claimed was of Mohammad throwing stones during a demonstration. The prosecution backed this assertion with a “confession” from one of the Bil’in youth that is currently in their custody, claiming that the person in the picture was Mohammad Khatib, whom the boy knows well. When Khatib’s attorney, Gabi Laski questioned the prosecution about the photograh, she was told the picture was taken in October of 2009. Laski then presented the judge with Mohammad’s passport, showing that Mohammad was in New Caladonia during that time.

Many Israeli supporters of the struggle in Bil’in and the Palestinian Occupied Territories made a showing at this hearing. In attendance of the hearing were Dove Haneen, the Israeli Knesset member from the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, Uri Avnery, the head of Gush Shalom (Peace Group), and Arc Asher, head of Rapanem; the Movement for Human Rights. Other Israelis and internationals supporters held a vigil outside the prison gates.

A decision for Mohammad Khatib’s case as well as Abdullah Yassin and Mustafa Khatib, will be given on Sunday, August 16th. On the other hand, the court ordered Issa Abu Rahma, and the two brothers Khalid and Muhammad Shaukat Khatibhas to be kept in custody without bail until the completion of legal proceedings against them.