9 October 2009
Israeli military police have arrested a soldier accused of beating a Palestinian activist involved in regular protests against the West Bank separation barrier, an Israeli human rights group said.
Yesh Din said the arrest was made after it filed a complaint and demanded an investigation into claims Mohammed Khatib, a member of the Bilin regional council, was beaten by soldiers last month.
The army confirmed the arrest and said the soldier will be held until Monday.
The incident allegedly took place when Israeli soldiers raided the home of Abdullah Abu Rahme of the Bilin Popular Committee Against the Wall, in order to arrest him. Rahme was not at home at the time, but Khatib was allegedly severely beaten when he came to check on his family.
The village of Bilin is the scene of weekly protests against construction of Israel’s West Bank barrier, which often lead to clashes between protesters and soldiers.
In recent months, soldiers have been conducting nighttime raids in Bilin searching for leaders of the protests. Yesh Din said that of the 28 people arrested over the past three months, 18, including 10 minors, remain in custody.
Yesh Din lawyer Michael Sfard decried what he called “a culture of total impunity among Israeli soldiers when they enter West Bank villages, which can only be stopped by imposing consequences on such behaviour.”
The rights group said that of 1,246 investigation files opened by Israel’s military police between 2000 and the end of 2007, only six percent led to indictments against one or more soldiers.