For Immediate Release:
16 September 2009: Israeli forces raid Bil’in, beat Popular Committee member.
Around 1:30am, the Israeli army invaded Bil’in. Soldiers came to the home of Abdullah Mahmoud Abu Rahme , coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, to arrest him.
Abu Rahme was not at home at the time and soldiers proceeded to destroy belongings in his house.
When another member of the Popular Committee, Mohammad Khatib, arrived to check on Abu Rahme’s wife and 3 small children, Israeli forces severely beat him. Khatib was taken to Ramallah hospital for medical treatment.
International solidarity activists were prevented from entering the home and a Palestinian cameraman trying to film the invasion was pushed around and had his camera broken.
Afterward, soldiers raided the home of Abdullah’s brother, Khaled Abu Rahme, threatening to continue harassment until Abduallah is arrested. The army also trashed a room in Khaled’s home, stealing banners and flags used during weekly demonstrations.
Video footage available upon request, please email [email protected]
The recent raids began concurrently with the opening of a legal trial in Montreal. The village of Bil’in has taken two companies registered in Canada (Green Park International & Green Mount International) to court for participating in war crimes by building settlements on Bil’in’s land under the 2000 Canadian Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Statute (which incorporates both the articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute into Canadian federal law).
Since the trail began Israeli forces have arrested 30 people (most of which are under 18). Twenty-one residents of Bil’in remain in Israeli detention.
Through Israel’s interrogation and intimidation tactics, some of arrested youth have falsely ‘confessed’ that the Bil’in Popular Committee urges the demonstrators to throw stones. With such ‘confessions’, Israeli forces then proceed to raid the village at night invade homes and arrest leaders of the non-violent struggle in the community.
Two of the three popular committee members who traveled to Montreal to represent the villages case , Mohammad Khatib and Mohammad Abu Rahme were arrested and have since been released on bail. (see B’Tselem report: http://www.btselem.org/english/separation_barrier/20090818_night_arrests_in_bilin.asp).
Another leading Bil’in non-violent activist, Adeeb Abu Rahme, remains in detention since his arrest during a non-violent demonstration on 10 July 2009 (see report & video: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/07/7652. Adib has been charged with “incitement to damage the security of the area.”
On 29 August 2009, two additional Bil’in houses were simultaneously raided by at least 40 soldiers, arresting Ashraf Al-Khatib (age 29) and Hamru Bornat (age 24). A local cameraman, Haitham Al-Khatib, brother of the arrested Hamru, was repeatedly forcibly moved and hit, and threatened with arrest unless he stopped filming. Soldiers declared his home a “closed military zone” but could not produce any military order.
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, confiscated for 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 award.