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Israeli forces continue to target the leadership of Palestinian non-violent resistance

UPDATE: Mohammad Abu Rahma has been released from Israeli prison on a 5,000 NIS bail.

Abdallah Abu Rahme, coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee, stated, “The ongoing arrests are meant to create pressure for us to stop our non-violent resistance. The Israeli authorities are putting conditions on our leaders and forcing us to pay thousands of sheckels. But we cannot and will not stop protesting against the theft of our land.”

For Immediate Release

Abu Nizar at a demonstration in Canada

Abu Nizar at a demonstration in Canada

20 August 2009: Once again the night in Bil’in was disrupted by a raid ending with the arrest of one the members of the Village’s Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements. This occurred the night after the childrens demonstration where the children had chanted slogans like “We want to sleep,” “Stop the night raids”.

The house of Bil’in Popular Committee member and vice president of the Bil’in village council, Mohammad Abu Rahma, (age 50), known by his friends as Abu Nizar, was raided shortly before 2am on Thursday morning. About 25 soldiers with their faces painted in black had come to the village on foot.

The soldiers broke into Abu Nizar’s home and forcefully took him from his bed where he and his wife were sleeping. They then beat and dragged him to the Annexation Wall where jeeps were waiting to pick them up. During the arrest, the soldiers where confronted by international solidarity activists who live in the village and Haitham Khatib the village’s camera man. As Haithem was filming the arrest, one soldier hit him, broke his camera and hit two of the activists.

Abu Nizar’s son Nashmi Mohammed Ibrahim Abu Rahma (age 14) had been arrested 5 days ago. To date, Israeli forces have arrested 28 people (most of which are under 18). Nineteen residents of Bil’in remain in Israeli detention. Through Israel’s interrogation and intimidation tactics, some of 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 of the non violent struggle in the community.

Magda abu Rahme , 17 , sister to Nashmi and daughter to Mohammad who are both currently in Israeli military prison stated; “These crimes, these armed invasions, breaking into homes where women sleep, these will only make us stronger and more steadfast. We remain samideen – steadfast – and will not back down. The strategy is to fragment our families and community and create distrust, and this will fail, we remain strong and we are immovable.”

What you can do?

Attempts to criminalize the leadership of non-violent protests where curbed in the past with the help of an outpouring of support from people committed to justice from all over the world.

1. The Popular committee of Bil’in is in desperate need for legal funds in order to pay legal fees and Bail. Please donate to the Bil’in legal fund by paypal click http://tinyurl.com/lcr6rg . If you would like to make a tax deductible donation in the US or Canada contact: [email protected]

2. Please Protest by contacting your political representatives, as well as you consuls and ambassadors to Israel to demand that Israel stops targeting non violent popular resistance and release Mohammad Abu Rahme (Abu Nizar,) Adib Abu Rahme and all Bil’in prisoners.

The Bil’in Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements

Background

The Palestinian village of Bil’in has become an international symbol of the Palestinian popular struggle. For almost 5 years, its residents have been continuously struggling against the de facto annexation of more than 50% of their farmlands via the construction of the Apartheid Wall.

In a celebrated decision, the Israeli Supreme court ruled on the 4 September 2007 that the current route of the wall in Bil’in was illegal and needs to be dismantled; the ruling however has not been implemented. The struggle of the village to liberate its lands and stop the illegal settlements has been internationally recognized and has earned the popular committee in Bil’in the Carl von Ossietzky Meda. http://tinyurl.com/nfmsvm

Another leading Bil’in non-violent activist, Adeeb Abu Rahme, remains in detention since his arrest during a non-violent demonstration on July 10th (see report & video: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/07/7652).

Adib Abu Rahme as well as Bil’in’s popular committee Member Mohammad Khatib have been charged with “incitement to damage the security of the area.” , was recently released on bail after his lawyer proved that a picture the military prosecution claimed was of him throwing stones that was accompanied by a confession form one of the arrested youth recognizing Mohammad, was taken while Mohammad was out of the country.