This is a Report from the International Solidarity Movement on the village of Bil’in, which has been subject to unremitting violence from the Israeli army in an attempt to provoke violent resistance and at the same time to destroy the existing non-violent opposition to the theft of the village’s land.
When Israel talks about ‘terrorism’ we should bear in mind that when confronted with non-violence Israel does its best to ensure smash it with the utmost force, including as the report below shows, imprisoning 2 Palestinian child witnesses in order to force them to testify as witnesses.
This kind of behaviour is of course sanctioned by the West and the ‘hypocrite for change’ in the White House. The International Solidarity Movement which produced the report has itself been subject to intense Israeli accusations that it is a ‘terrorist-supporter’ thus legitimising the attacks it has made on the organisation and its people.
Note also that the High Court decision that 25% of Bil'in's land be returned has been ignored, without any consequence, by the Military. This is not unusual in terms of the Occupation and once again demonstrates that the claims that Israel are a democracy are shallow and fraudulent.
See also Ha'aretz Editorial ‘War on protest’
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.
Mohammad Khatib’s new hearing has been scheduled for Monday, 4 January 2010 at 10:30am
For more information: Eva Adams / ISM Media Office: 054 344 2512 054 344 2512 / 059 7700 368 059 7700 368
Bil'in: Inciting non-violence
Following initial construction of Israel’s wall on Bil’in’s lands in March 2005, residents organized almost daily direct actions and demonstrations against the theft of their lands. Garnering the
attention of the international community with their creativity and perseverance, Bil’in has become a symbol for Palestinian popular resistance. Almost five years later, Bil’in continues to have weekly Friday protests.
Located 12 kilometers west of Ramallah and 4 km east of the Green Line, Bil’in is an agricultural village spanning 4,000 dunams (988 acres) with approximately 1,800 residents.
While construction of and opposition to the Wall and began in 2005, the majority of land had been expropriated from Bil’in earlier.
Starting in the early 1980’s, and more significantly in 1991, approximately 56% of Bil'in's agricultural land was declared ‘State Land’ for the construction of the settlement bloc, Modi'in Illit (). Modi'in Illit currently holds the largest settler population of any settlement bloc, with over 42,000 residents and plans to achieve a population of 150,000
In addition to grassroots organizing, Bil’in has held annual conferences on popular resistance since 2006; providing a forum for activists, academics, and leaders to discuss strategies for the
unarmed struggle against the Occupation
Bil’in embraced legal measures against Israel as part of its multi-lateral resistance to the theft of their livelihoods. The village first turned to the courts in the fall of 2005. Two years after they
initiated legal proceedings, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that due to illegal construction in part of Modi'in Illit, unfinished housing could not be completed and that the route of the Wall be moved several hundred meters west, returning 25% of Bil’in’s lands to the village. To date, the high court ruling has not been implemented and construction continues.
In July 2008, Bil’in commenced legal proceedings before the Superior Court of Quebec against Green Park International Inc and Green Mount International Inc for their involvement in constructing, marketing and selling residential units in the Mattityahu East section of Modi’in
In an effort to stop the popular resistance in Bil’in, Israeli authorities intimidate demonstrators with physical violence and arrests.
Israeli armed forces have used sound and shock grenades, water cannons, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear-gas grenades, tear-gas canisters, high velocity tear-gas projectiles, 0.22 caliber live
ammunition and live ammunition against protesters.
On 17 April 2009, Bassem Abu Rahma was shot with a high-velocity tear gas projectile in the chest by Israeli forces and subsequently died from his wounds at a Ramallah hospital
Out of the 80 residents who have been arrested in connection to demonstrations against the Wall, 33 were arrested after the beginning of a night raid campaign on 23 June 2009. Israeli armed forces have been regularly invading homes and forcefully searching for demonstration participants, targeting the leaders of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, as well as teenage boys accused of throwing stones at the Wall. Thirteen currently remain in
detention, most of which are minors.
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led non-violent resistance movement committed to ending Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian land. We call for full compliance with all relevant UN resolutions and international law.
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