Yet another Friday of resistance in Bil’in took place this week. MPTers walked along with residents, other internationals and Israelis to the land given back to the people of Bil’in after they won a case with the Israeli court in 2007, and continued further to where the demonstration would nowadays take place.
It took for this small but significant victory for the people of Bil’in four years to be actualized when in June this year the army finally dismantled the Wall in the village and relocated it 150 acres further back into the land of the Modi’in Illit settlement. Even according to the new path 435 acres of village land still remain behind the fence. The demonstrations still continue on a weekly basis and are against the very existence of the separation Wall and the Israeli occupation.
The mood this Friday was grim. The reason for that is that during the last week’s demonstration, on the 21st of October, Ashraf Abu Rahmah, brother of two Bil’in casualties, had been arrested and accused of throwing stones during the protest. This happened as demonstrators were already walking towards the village on their way back. The soldiers surprisingly crossed the gate and drove with four army jeeps into the village, then arrested Ashraf. To see the video of Ashraf getting arrested please go to International Solidarity Movement’s website: http://popularstruggle.org/content/ashraf-abu-rahmah-brother-two-bilin-casualties-arrested-during-protest
The Israeli soldiers promised to release Ashraf if the demonstration was dispersed but failed to keep their promise after this was done and instead drove away with him in one of their jeeps.
You may remember Ashraf from the following story when in 2009 he was blindfolded and shot in the foot in Nil’in by an Israeli soldier, here is the story as MPT members have related it then: http://mptinpalestine.blogspot.com/2009/07/stories-from-bilin-and-nilin.html
Ashraf’s brother, Bassem was shot dead during Bil’in demonstration in April 17th, 2009 with a high-velocity tear gas canister that shot him in the chest. Their sister Jawaher is another member of the Abu Rahmah family who lost her life at Bil’in’s peaceful demonstration in December 31st 2010 after inhaling a massive amount of tear gas.
Witnesses to last week’s demonstration have provided evidence in terms of videos and photos proving that Ashraf, one of Bil’in’s main activist in the non-violent struggle, has demonstrated peacefully every Friday just as he did on the day of 23rd of October when his arrest occurred. He has not thrown any stones.
Despite this evidence, Ashraf has been ordered an indefinite extension of his arrest, until the end of legal procedures against him and is still under arrest in the notorious Ofer Prison.
One week after his arrest we shouted “Free Ashraf”, along with slogans like “End the Occupation” and “Palestine will be state”, to the soldiers on the other side of the Wall.
The old barrier stood here. The truck could have not gone any further before July of this year.
Tear gas was shot yet another time at the demonstrators.
Rani Burnet is one of the witnesses of last week's protest and Ashraf's arrest. Part of his body was paralyzed after he had live ammunition shot in his neck by an Israeli soldier in 2000. This hasn't prevented him in participating regularly in the non-violent struggle of his village up to this day.