On Tuesday, September 15th, MPT was called to assist with a possible invasion of Abdullah Abu Rahme's home. Abdullah is a nonviolent resistance leader in the village of Bil'in.
For three months there have been frequent raids at the home of resistance leaders. These home invasions are carried out by commando-type soldiers of the Israeli Occupation Forces. They gain entrance by jeep or by foot and climb over the gates and walls of the village homes in the middle of the night.
Bil'in has lost sixty-five percent of its village land to Israel for settlement construction. A nonviolent demonstration at the apartheid wall in Bil'in has been taking place for five years. At 2:00 a.m., six internationals, including three MPTers, went to the home of a nonviolent resistance leader, Abdullah Abu Rahme, and found soldiers had already invaded the home and blocked any further entrance. When international presence was noticed, the Israeli commandos radioed for reinforcements.
From behind the gate, soldiers ransacking the home could be seen and heard through the windows. Two internationals and several Palestinians scaled the fence and tried to enter the home. Other Palestinians pounded the gate and demanded entrance. MPTers called through the gate rebuking the soldiers in the yard and near the gate.
Those who entered the yard were blocked from entry to the home. However, one Palestinian, Mohammed Khatib, slipped in the door when the soldiers were not blocking it.
An additional twelve soldiers arrived and continued with the invasion. Many soldiers mingled inside and outside the gate and in the street.
Suddenly two MPTers discovered that the next door home of Abdullah's brother was also being invaded. MPTers and other internationals followed the soldiers into the home to provide protective accompaniment to the parents and three small children.
The frightened children clung to their mother and father. Soldiers asked the MPTers to "babysit"the children while they ransacked this home. MPTers refused this request as the mother wanted to be with her children and have MPT go with the soldiers.
Four soldiers ordered the father to open the door to every room in the home where they searched for Abdullah. In the basement, the soldiers found Palestinian flags, posters and banners, including posters with the picture of Bassem, a young Palestinian who was killed by a tear-gas bomb in March 2009. These flags and banners, used during the village demonstrations at the apartheid wall, were confiscated by the soldiers.
MPTers and other internationals interacted with the soldiers with comments such as "You are violating international law!" "This is an illegal invasion." "I am embarrassed that US tax money is being spent like this." "Go home and go to bed."
One Israeli soldier said, "I know what I am doing is illegal." Another said, "This is Israel."
By 2:45 a.m., the invasion was coming to a close. Abdullah was not found, but the Israel army will continue to harass his family and invade his home and village looking for him.
At that time, Mohammed Khatib came out of the house badly beaten with head and abdominal injuries. He was transported by ambulance to the hospital in Ramallah.
The soldiers left in several jeeps. Internationals stayed in the street to be with the accumulating crowd of villagers.