For Immediate Release
Monday, 17 August 2009: Mohammad Khatib, member of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements has been released on the condition that he report to a police station with a monitor every Friday until 5pm for the duration of his trial. He is available for interviews.
According to Mohammad, “The Israeli authorities are worried that the model of popular non-violent resistance is spreading. They are targeting the popular committees to try to crush it but they cannot destroy the spirit of the demonstrations in Bil’in with the arrests of individuals. The whole village is part of the non-violent resistance and the military would have to arrest the entire village to stop us from protesting against the Occupation and the theft of our land. Even then, when we all come out of jail, we would continue our struggle.”
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). The latest wave of arrests and night raids on the West Bank village of Bil’in began on 23 June 2009. Both Adib Abu Rahme and Mohammad Khatib are being charged with “incitement to damage the security of the area.”
To date, Israeli forces have arrested 26 people (most under 18. The last arrest took place on 15.08.09; Nashmi Mohammad Ibrahim Abu Rahma (age 15) was arrested near the Apartheid Wall in Bil’in village. This brings the total of arrested to 19.
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 in the community. In Mohammad Khatib’s case this tactic failed when Khatib’s attorney, Gabi Laski, proved that a picture the prosecution claimed was of Mohammad throwing stones during a demonstration was taken when Mohammad was out of the country. The photograph was accompanied by a “confession” from one of the Bil’in youth that is currently in the military’s custody, claiming that the person in the picture was Mohammad Khatib.
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.