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Demonstrators to protest closure of Beituniya military checkpoint in solidarity with families of Palestinian political prisoners and in support of lawyers’ strike

29 December 2009

The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee and the Palestinian Society Prisoners’ Club called for a demonstration on Tuesday, 29 December 2009, to protest the closure of the Beituniya checkpoint, the only access route for many families and lawyers of prisoners held at Ofer military prison. All visitors must now go through the Qalandiya checkpoint, which however requires a permit to enter Israel. These permits are frequently denied to family members of political prisoners as well as their lawyers.

Jad Qudamani, director of the legal department of the Palestinian Society Prisoners’ Club, said: “Our lawyers, for many of whom the Beituniya checkpoint provides the only access route to their clients, were informed by Israeli military about its closure for ‘security reasons’ this Sunday. To protest this unlawful act, the lawyers and families of Palestinians held at Ofer military prison called for a strike until the checkpoint is re-opened. The closure has serious implications on prisoners’ basic rights as it makes it extremely difficult for lawyers to represent them and prevents their families from visiting them.

Almost 8,000 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli prisons, both inside of the West Bank and in Israel. Among them are grassroots activists Jamal Juma’ and Mohammad Othman from the Stop the Wall Campaign, Adeeb Abu Rahmah and Abdallah Abu Rahmah from the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements and Wa’el Al Faqeeh from the Tanweer Cultural Centre in Nablus, imprisoned during a recent wave of arrests conducted by the Israeli military targeting leaders of non-violent popular resistance against the occupation.

Demonstrators will also protest the arrest of Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a school teacher and well-known grassroots organizer of non-violent protests against the Wall and settlements in the village of Bil’in, who is currently detained at the Ofer prison, and the charges brought against him by the Israeli military prosecution.

The afternoon before his arrest on 10 December 2009, Abdallah prepared a speech to be delivered on his behalf at the World Association for Human Rights awards ceremony in Berlin. In his speech, Abdallah wrote:

“Unlike Israel, we have no nuclear weapons, and no army, but we do not want or need those things, because of the justice of our cause, we have your support and with it we know that ultimately we will bring down Israel’s Apartheid Wall.”

Despite his commitment to the non-violent struggle against the occupation, Abdallah was charged with arms possession by the military prosecution, for collecting spent munitions fired at peaceful protesters by the Israeli army, and displaying them at his home to demonstrate the disproportionate violence used to disperse demonstrations in Bil’in. Other charges include incitement and stone throwing. On receiving the indictment Adv. Gaby Lasky, Abu Rahmah’s lawyer said: “The army shoots at unarmed demonstrators, and when they try to show the world the violence used against them by collecting and presenting the remnants – they are persecuted and prosecuted. What’s next? Charging protesters money for the bullets shot at them?”