3 January 2010
For immediate release:
Hamouda Imad Yassin (16) and Ibrahim Khalil Yassin (16), two young men from Bil’in, who were arrested on 29 December 2009 during a night raid on the West Bank village, are still being held by the Israeli military.
The boys were arrested at 2am on Tuesday, 29 December 2009, when the Israeli army, composed of a number of military jeeps and approximately 50 soldiers on foot, invaded the village and raided their houses. They are still being held by the military, while their relatives are being kept in the dark as of when they will be released and the legal reasons for their detention.
The only explanation given by the Israeli authorities was that they detained Hamouda and Khalil in order to ensure their presence as witnesses at a hearing with Mohammad Khatib, member of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, that was scheduled to take place later that day, 29 December 2009 at the Ofer military prison. He is charged with stone throwing, incitement and providing service to an unpermitted group. In a previous court hearing, the judge found the evidence presented to support the stone throwing charge to be falsified as it emerged that photographs shown of Mohammad Khatib allegedly throwing stones were taken on a day when he was abroad.
Mohammad Khatib commented on their arrest and continued detention:
“The fact that the Israeli military not only feels the need to present falsified evidence, but also resorts to invading the village in order to arrest children to testify against members of the Popular Committee shows their determination to crush the popular struggle through fabricated military trials. Luckily the military and occupation authorities have no understanding of the meaning of popular struggle. They would have to put all residents of the village in jail to stop the popular resistance and even then we would come out eventually, stronger and continue to struggle for our land and our freedom.”
His hearing, however, has been postponed due to a strike of Palestinian lawyers protesting the closure of the Beituniya checkpoint, the only route providing access for relatives and lawyers of Palestinian prisoners held at Ofer. Instead of releasing the two boys upon realizing the hearing has been cancelled, the Israeli military chose to keep them in detention, for an unknown period of time.
Their detention is just a part of an ongoing campaign through which the Israeli military seeks to ensure the end of Palestinian grassroots struggle against the Occupation and the Apartheid Wall. In Bil’in alone, 33 residents have been arrested since the beginning of a series of night raids conducted by the army. Almost a half still remain in detention, including Abdallah Abu Rahmah, arrested on 10 December 2009 and charged with incitement, stone throwing and arms possession, an accusation which has been brought against him merely for collecting and displaying spent tear-gas canisters, used against the Bil’in demonstrators by the Israeli army.