Palestinian grassroots organizer arrested during Israeli military night raid

9 December 2009

As part of a recent escalation of political arrests in the West Bank village of Bilin, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a school teacher and coordinator of the Bilin Popular Committee, was arrested by Israeli soldiers.

At exactly 2am last night, seven Israeli military jeeps pulled over at Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s residence in the city of Ramallah. Soldiers raided the house and arrested Abu Rahmah from his bed in the presence of his wife and children. Abu Rahmah is a high school teacher in the Latin Patriarchate school in Birzeit near Ramallah and is the coordinator of the Bilin Popular Committee against the wall and settlements. A previous raid targeting Abu Rahmah was executed with such exceptional violence on 15 September 2009 that a soldier was subsequently indicted for assault.

Abu Rahmah’s arrest is part of an escalation in the Israeli military’s attempts to break the spirit of the people of Bilin, their popular leadership, and the popular struggle as a whole — aimed at crushing demonstrations against the wall. Recently, advocate Gaby Lasky, who represents many of Bilin’s detainees, was informed by the military prosecution that the army intends to use legal measures as a means of ending the demonstrations.

Following Abu Rahmah’s arrest, Adv. Lasky stated that “My client’s arrest is another blatant illustration of the Israeli authorities’ application of legal procedures for the political persecution of Bilin residents. The Bilin demonstrators are being systemically targeted while it is the State that is in contempt of a High Court of Justice ruling; a ruling which affirmed that the protesters have justice on their side and instructed two years ago that the route of the wall in the area be changed, which has not been implemented to date.”

Since 23 June 2009, 31 residents of Bilin have been detained by the military. The army has pursued Popular Committee members in its arrest operation, but all three detained members were released for lack of evidence. In the case of another member, Mohammed Khatib, the court even found some of the presented evidence to be falsified.

In addition to committee members, a leading Bilin activist, Adeeb Abu Rahmah, who has been detained for more than five months, is not suspected of committing any violence, but was indicted with a blanket charge of “incitement,” which was very liberally interpreted in this case to include the organizing of grassroots demonstrations.

This press release was edited for clarity.

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