For Immediate Release
3 August 2009: Israeli forces raid West Bank village of Bil’in, arresting 7 Palestinians and 1 American solidarity activist.
At around 3am on Monday morning, a large military force wearing combat paint and masks invaded Bil’in. Israeli soldiers raided several homes, arresting 2 Palestinian children, 5 Palestinian adults including Mohammad Khatib of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements and an American national.
The home of another member of the Popular Committee was raided, but soldiers could not arrest him because he was not present at home.
Monday’s raid is another in a series of many that Israeli forces have carried out in Bil’in since June.
Since 29 June 2009, Israeli forces have arrested 25 people (most are under 18), of which 18 are currently being held in detention.
Israeli forces have been using interrogation techniques to pressure the arrested youth to give statements against Bil’in community leaders. Forces then arrest community leaders, several of which are being held without bail for the duration of their trial.
On 21 July 2009, a military judge decided to hold Adeeb Abu Rahma, a leading non-violent activist that was arrested from a demonstration against the barrier that took place in Bil’in village on 10 of July (see video at: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/07/7652), until the end of proceedings against him. This could mean months or a year in military prison for Adeeb, who is being charged with incitement to violence and rioting. He is the sole provider for his family of 9 children, wife and mother.
Abdullah Abu Rahme, coordinator of the popular committee stated,
Mohmmad Khatib and Adib Abu Rahme along with other leaders of the Palestinian popular struggle are being targeted because the mobilize Palestinians to resist non violently. The fact is that the Apartheid Wall and the settlements built on Palestinian land are illegal under international law, in the case of our village even the biased Israeli court declared the route illegal. Yet Israel is prosecuting us as criminals because we struggle nonviolently for our freedom.
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 then 50% of their farmlands the construction of the apartheid wall on it. 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.
One demonstrator, Basem Abu Rahma, was killed at a demonstration as he was attempting to speak with the soldiers. (see video at: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/6185)