22nd September 2016 | International Solidarity Movement, Ramallah-team | Bil’in, occupied Palestine
Approximately fourty soldiers invaded the central West Bank town of Bil’in early morning of September 22nd. The army confiscated at least three laptops, one hard-drive, five phones, and two camera memory cards from the homes of six local activists. Bil’in community members feel this was part of an ongoing attempt to break the spirit of the town and disrupt the ability for community members to share their stories on social media.
The soldiers barged into Bil’in at 2:30 A.M., waking up entire households, including several children. They then interrogated the activists, and haphazardly searched through their entire homes. Ashad Abu Rahmah, who is attaining his masters in Business Administration, realized after the soldiers left his home that they had taken his computer hard drive. “They want to break our courage and willingness to post anything about Bil’in on social media and news sources,” states Ashad. “But they will not succeed in this,” he continues.
The army suggested they would return the stolen items to some, but historically, promises such as this have been little more than empty words. Haitham Al Khatib, who filmed the invasion says, “I am still waiting for them to return my car, and video recording devices which they confiscated from me in a night raid before three months”.
Ashraf Abu Rahmah, whose home was one of those raided, saw the loss alone of items totaling around 4,500 shekel worth of technology. Ashraf has spent significant time in prison from consistent arrests. In 2008, while blindfolded and handcuffed as caught on tape, Ashraf was shot in the foot by a soldier. He is also the brother of Bassem and Jawaher Abu Rahmah, both of whom were killed by by Israeli army in Bil’in. For families like Ashraf’s in particular, it’s incredibly important to have access to cameras and computers in order to share internationally the stories of what takes place in Bil’in.
Additionally, the homes of Rateb Abu Rahmah, Abdullah Abu Rahmah, Bassil Mansour, Muhammed al-Khatib and Ahmad Abu Rahmah were also raided.
Watch a video of Israeli forces storming into the homes of Bil’in activists.
Night raids have deep psychological impacts on children and adults alike. Many community members struggle with persistent nightmares and Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder
After similar raids in the past, the town has seen an increase in arrests of non-violent activists for resisting the illegal annexation of Bil’in to the illegal Israeli settlement Modi’in Illit. But this raid will not deter the community from attending nor documenting the weekly demonstrations which have taken place for the past 11 years against the illegal annexation of their land.