Bil’in arrest highlights Israeli intimidation in Palestinian villages

By Hamde abu Rahma and Rosie Huzzard

On Friday 16 December, Mohammed al-Khatib, the 36 year old leading member of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlement Construction in Bil’in, West Bank, Palestine, was arrested during a non-violent demonstration in Nabi Salih village. The demonstration was held to mark a week since the killing of Mustafa Tamimi, who was attacked by the IDF a week beforehand, by a tear gas canister shot to the head by an Israeli soldier.

Mohammed was arrested along with thirty activists from the demonstration, most of them Israeli and internationals, and he was jailed without charge. This practice of jailing Palestinian and pro-Palestinian activists without charge has been commonplace for many years, used as part of a constant programme of intimidation in the disputed villages and areas carved up by the partition wall, which also includes night raids and the arrest and interrogation of minors. The same arrest without charge happened previously in the cases of Abdullah abu Rahma, Adeeb abu Rahma and Ashraf abu Ramah, members of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlement in Bil'in village, which was visited by members of Workers' Liberty in December 2010. Abdullah and Adeeb were held in Israeli jails for more than 17 months without charge before they were released. As we write, Ashraf has been in prison for more than two months without charge.

The abu Rahma men were classed as 'security prisoners', as leading activists, which meant that visiting rights to them in prison was severely restricted.

Thankfully, Mohammed was released on Sunday in Jerusalem and allowed to return to his family, but these practices continue to be widespread against political activists in the West Bank and must be stopped.

More information on the campaign against the intimidation of the IDF in these villages can be found at the Bil'in village website.

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