Saturday, August 15, 2009

Israelis arrest non-violent protest leaders in Bil'in - August 3, 2009

As Americans, many of us have seen Palestinians protesting only as suicide bombers and in rocket attacks. We rarely see the ongoing non-violent protests against the occupation.

Bil’in village in the West Bank is one of the places where Palestinian villagers have organized weekly peaceful protests against the separation barrier Israel has erected on their lands. The wall in Bil’in, as in many places, separates the Palestinian village from its farmlands. Those of you who have seen my slides have seen a similar situation in Jayyous, where the wall is actually a road with barbed wire, separating the village on the hill above from its olive orchards and farmlands below. Much of Jayyous’s farmland was taken to build the Israeli settlement of Zufin. [The picture here shows the Israeli “wall”/road separating Jayyous from its farmlands. The smaller road crossing the security barrier is where the villagers must wait for Israeli soldiers to let them cross at a checkpoint every time they go to work.You can see pictures of Bil’in on their web site:]

Here is the latest news from Bil’in:

“At 3AM on Monday, August 3, the Israeli army raided Bil’in and arrested Mohammad Khatib, along with six other Palestinian community activists and one American human rights observer from the village. This move is an attempt by Israeli authorities to silence a popular resistance movement gaining international attention and inspiring other Palestinian communities. This West Bank agricultural village, known for its weekly protests against the Israeli apartheid wall, has become a symbol for the Palestinian popular resistance to Israel’s ongoing military occupation.

While many are quick to condemn Palestinians when they resort to armed resistance, Israel has been left free to harass, imprison and sometimes kill Palestinians who nonviolently resist the confiscation and destruction of their land in Bil’in and elsewhere.

In June 2009, Mohammed Khatib traveled to Canada for preliminary hearings on an historic lawsuit launched by Bil’in village against two Quebec-based companies, Green Park International and Green Mount International. Both companies are building illegal Israeli-only settlements on Bil’in’s land.

Mohammad’s arrest is just one in a series of many carried out by the Israeli military in Bil’in since June 2009, coinciding with the beginning of these legal proceedings. Video of the ongoing struggle in Bil’in, including interviews with Mohammad Khatib and Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard, can be seen at

To date, 25 people (most under 18) have been arrested, and 18 of them remain in detention. Having experienced Israel's interrogation/ intimidation/torture tactics, two of the arrested minors 'confessed' that the Bil'in Popular Committee urges the demonstrators to throw stones. Then based on these forced 'confessions', Israeli forces arrested Mohammad Khatib and other leaders in Bil’in. They have been charged with ‘incitement to damage the security of the area.’

An August 13, 2009 statement issued by the Bil’in popular committee declared that Mohammad Khatib, Adeeb Abu Rahmeh and other leaders of the Palestinian popular struggle, “are being targeted because they mobilize Palestinians to resist non-violently. "Israel is stealing our land from us and then prosecuting us as criminals because we struggle non-violently for justice," said the statement.” Read more…..

In the days since Mohammad’s arrest, protestors, including international supporters, have rallied almost daily to publicize this injustice. Read more about the non-violent protest movement against the wall in Bil’in on their website:

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