New Year’s greetings from Mohammad Khatib, one of the remaining Bil’in popular committee leaders:
At the threshold of the New Year, I write to wish you a new year of freedom and liberation. This has been an unbelievable year for me in both highs and lows. A year during which I have witnessed how, despite repression, ordinary people all across Palestine take to the streets for freedom.
Abu Rahmah has yet to be released. Through his lawyer, he was able to pass on a very loaded message; From the details of his arrest and the stalling of his release, to the impact on his family, to the impact on the village, to prison torture of children, to military court violations, to support for BDS and implementation of international law. The letter was published in full, in the Huffington Post and I bring it to you in full. This is what hope in spite of apartheid looks like:
A year ago tonight, on International Human Rights Day, our apartment
in Ramallah was broken into by the Israeli military in the middle of
the night and I was torn away from my wife Majida, my daughters Luma
and Layan, and my son Laith, who at the time was only nine months
Across the West Bank, Friday was a day of protest against Israel’s blood diamonds, which are harvested while infringing on human rights in African countries and then polished in apartheid Israel and then exported. The diamond trade accounts for 30% of Israel’s total manufacturing exports:
Five paramedics (one of them [image to the left] a minor, the age of 15) and one member of the press- all marked with vests according to their duty, all residents of the village of Ni’lin- were arrested during the weekly demonstration. I later chanced upon the 6 at the Beit-El (settlement) police station. We managed to talk to them a bit and take some pictures before the guarding officer started yelling for the police to come and take us away. Anarchists Against the Wall Reported the following:
One of the soldiers punched the cameraman and a medic, and another threw a large rock at the a radio receiver belonging to the medics. The arrestees were taken to the Shaar Binyamin police station. Two of them were accused of assaulting the police, and four were released.
The latest report is that the remaining journalist and paramedic were both released, with no conditions.
The demonstration in Bil’in was conducted in solidarity with the Israeli settlement boycott movement. Two children, including a mentally disabled boy, were injured and three Israelis, including myself, were arrested after the soldiers, yet again, invaded the village in order to make arrests. Cuffed and blindfolded, we were taken to the Benjamin police station at the Beit El/Adam settlement, which can be easily found on the map.
The army, like a well oiled machine, attacked with chemical warfare, invaded the village to abduct an Al-Arabiya reporter, using a smoke screen canister that spits fire as well.
Fires sparked due to the combination of Middle Eastern heat and ammunition. About 20 olive trees were lost, as it took the fire truck about an hour to arrive and the army had to be begged to stop gassing us, so we could approach the burning areas. Video clips after the fold.
All across the protesting villages of the West Bank, the political intimidation is escalating with arrests of activists. There will be no footage from Bil’in, this week, as friend, fellow activist, B’tselem camera man and Bil’in resident, Haitham Al-Khatib was arested, yet again, while doing his job. (update 20.5.10: this week’s footage has been recovered and can be found here) Along with two fellow Bil’in residents, Al-Khatib was taken to Ofer prison, without even so much as an interrogation. The two Israeli activists and international activist were released at 20 past midnight, that night.
In Ni’lin, a bit of symbolic flag burning was quickly dispersed with chemical weapons.
Four people arrested in Bil’in. As you can tell by the video’s last few minutes, as friend and journalist, Tommy Donnellan, is being carried off, the army knows that he is of the press. What do you call it when the authorities arrest the press, again?
Friday in Bil’in, friend and fellow activist, Emad Rezqa was hit in the forehead by an aluminum tear gas projectile shot directly at him by Israeli soldiers during the weekly anti-Wall demonstration. He suffered a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage, and is currently hospitalized at the Hadassa Ein Karem hospital in Jerusalem. The demonstration Rezqa was injured in concluded the three-day International Bil’in Conference on Popular Struggle, and was attended by hundreds of people. Several other demonstrators were injured from gas inhalation, direct hits by gas canisters, and falling
This is the man who fired the canisters:
I was later arrested along with Palestinian journalist Moheb Barghouti, two fellow Israelis and a Mexican activist, after staging a sit-in. (more details soon)