Free Our Children Protest at Ofer Military

Prison Palestine Monitor – September 12, 2009

Last Monday, residents of Bil’in, a centre of non-violent resistance in the West Bank, gathered outside Ofer Military Prison to protest the detention of villagers for participating in peaceful protests For almost five years, the residents of Bil’in have been organizing weekly non-violent protests against the wall Israel is building which cuts them off from 60% of their land.

In these creative and peaceful demonstrations, villagers and international supporters walk together to the wall, where they are routinely met with tear gas, sound bombs, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition from the Israeli army.

The Israeli government has been taking steps to crush the growing Palestinian nonviolent movement. Nineteen peaceful protesters have been killed in demonstrations against the wall. In the last three months, the Israeli army has arrested 29 residents of Bil’in for participating in demonstrations, 12 of whom are children.

The arrests are made during night raids, in which hundreds of Israeli soldiers enter the village, wearing combat paint and masks.

Last Monday, villagers and supporters of Bil’in gathered outside Ofer military prison to show solidarity and to demonstrate that they will not be discouraged from non-violent resistance.


Prisoners in Israel

August 31, 2010

Peace and Freedom for Ni’lin Popular Committe Leaders

by Sandra Twang (videos)
For me most of the time I feel so insignificant when it comes to being able to help those who live so far away and live under such horrible occupation…This is a way I can help and I hope that others understand what a powerful way that you change another persons life…Thank u Saeed for sharing your story and to everyone in your village for fighting for justice for us all, because in reality it is for all of us….

Our Story
On 12 January 2010 my father Ibrahim was arrested by the Israeli army and sentenced to two years in prison for organizing and participating in nonviolent protests against the Israel’s wall in the occupied West Bank. The wall cuts us off from our land and our olive groves, robbing our family of its livelihood.

To date there have already been 15 court hearings. We feel the Israeli occupation bureaucracy is deliberately delaying court proceedings. This creates an additional layer of punishment for my father and for our family. At each hearing, he must wait from 6am to 2pm in a hot room without food or water. Once each hearing begins he is tired, hungry and thirsty.

My father has been charged with the following offenses:

Being present in a declared military zone. The “military zone” is actually our olive groves, which Israel declared a military zone, once they started building the wall. The continued construction of the wall is a clear violation of the July 2004 International Court of Justice ruling declaring it illegal under international law.

Organizing illegal and violent demonstrations. My father is a strong opponent to violence and in fact has discouraged others from reacting violently whenever we have been attacked by the Israeli military.

Incitement to throw stones and use other means of violence. The Israeli authorities claim that my father paid money to demonstrators to throw stones at soldiers, their jeeps and the wall. This charge is completely absurd. After my father first got involved with the nonviolent protests in 2008, the Israeli authorities revoked his work permit. Since then he has been unemployed and struggles to put enough food on the table for my six siblings, our mother and myself. To claim that he was paying others to throw stones or cause damage to the wall mocks the terrible daily reality of our life and the lives of other Palestinians living under occupation.

All of these charges are based on the forced confessions of two young men from Ni’lin, one of them mentally ill.

Mostly, my father is worried about us, his family. Not only because it is even harder now, without him, to cover our bare necessities, but also because our family is being intimidated regularly by the Israeli military. They have raided our house already 25 times in the middle of the night, eight times after my father was arrested. Sometimes they just come to harass, mock and threaten us. Other times they come with dogs, unleash them inside the house, rummage through the house and cause a great deal of damage. Due to the repeated abuse we have endured, both of my five-year-old twin brothers are terrified and suffer from nightmares.

My father wishes for nothing but peace and freedom and he believes that a lasting peace can only be reached with peaceful methods. In his opinion, violence will only add to the hatred and confusion and further worsen the situation of Palestinians living under occupation. This is why he taught us not to consider violence a solution in our struggle to restore our rights.

However, he does believe that it is our duty to protest a terrible wrong that destroys the very existence of the inhabitants of Ni’lin village. Hence, when Israel started marking the course of the wall that led straight through our olive groves in May 2008 stealing a third of the village’s land, the inhabitants came together and formed the Ni’lin Popular Committee Against The Wall. The Popular Committee nonviolently resists the construction of the wall.

The Popular Committee chose my father to be part of the leadership as well as its official representative, because they want the world to see the truth about us: we are peaceful people who reject violence and we do not intend to harm anybody. We believe in freedom, peace and justice for every human being on earth and we dream to spread it from Ni’

lin throughout the entire world.

We started with our protests on 27 May 2008, walking toward the bulldozers that were uprooting our olive trees. We walked with our hands raised, so that the Israeli soldiers could see that we were unarmed. Initially, our protests were successful and we managed to delay the construction. Soon Israeli forces started to shoot sound bombs, tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and even live ammunition to disperse our peaceful demonstrations.

Since the protests started, five persons have been killed by Israeli soldiers, including a 10-year-old child, Ahmed Moussa, and more than 500 individuals have been detained. We have endured curfews, destruction of our property, snipers shooting demonstrators in their legs from the roofs of houses in Ni’lin. All of these acts of repression are intended to to discourage villagers from participating in the nonviolent protests. My 12-year-old sister Sammer has been shot in her hand with live ammunition simply for participating in the protests. My 10-year-old sister Rajaa was hit in her leg by a sound bomb when she tried to prevent snipers from climbing on our rooftop to shoot at other villagers.

Ni’lin, our village, our home, is being turned into an open-air prison. The current entrance to the village will be closed, and will be replaced by a tunnel that will be built under Route 446 — a road which only Jewish settlers are allowed to use. The tunnel will not only divide Ni’lin into two parts. It will also give the Israeli military the power to decide when and if they will open or close the gate, and therefore cut us all off from the outside world.

On Monday 12 July, my father appeared in court again. The Ofer Military Court sentenced my father to 11 months and 15 days in prison and a fine of 9,000 shekels ($2,330) with a prohibition from joining future protests. To avoid staying in prison my father pleaded guilty, otherwise he would stay in jail longer and the authorities would continue to postpone the hearing. We have been given two months to pay the 9000 shekels, but have no means to pay this amount. If we do not pay the fine then my father’s sentence will increase to 20 months and 15 days.

Together with my father, two more members of the Popular Committee, Hassan Mousa and Zaydoon Srour, each received the same sentence as my father. Their families are undergoing the same ordeal that we are.

We always try to be strong in the face of the oppressor. However, when they read the sentences, my mother started crying. We had to watch as my father, Hassan and Zaydoon and left the court room in shackles. When my father was asked if he wanted to say something, he stated that this ruling is against humanity and that we all suffer from the occupation and can’t do anything about it.

We are all very upset and worried about my father. He is sick and he doesn’t even get the medication he needs while in jail. We are also very sad, because only my mother can visit him in jail, and only after he had been in prison for four months. Still, my father maintains that nonviolent protests are the only solution. Please show your support for Ibrahim Amireh and your objection to his illegal imprisonment; for more information join the Facebook group “Support My Father: Peace & Freedom Activist Ibrahim Amireh.”

Ameer Makhoul

August 30, 2010

“Solidarity tastes different inside prison”

Ameer Makhoul writing from Gilboa prison, Live from Palestine, 30 August 2010

Ameer Makhoul (Adri Nieuwhof)

The following is an edited excerpt from a 7 August 2010 letter written by Ameer Makhoul from Israeli prison. A human rights defender, the director of the Arab nongovernmental organization network Ittijah, a leading voice of the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and a Palestinian citizen of Israel, Makhoul was arrested during a raid of his family home in Haifa in the early morning hours of 6 May. For the following eleven days Makhoul was held in isolation, denied access to a lawyer, and subjected to torture. Rights groups have condemned his political persecution and the criminal proceedings launched against him.

My trail is still somehow stuck. The system is structurally and politically Shabak-oriented, not justice-oriented. My human dignity, basic human rights and constitutional rights are suffering from basic violations. I still have no permit to meet my lawyers without being recorded. The ruling of the three judges is to justify the decision of the attorney general of Israel and the Shabak to ban free meeting with my lawyers in prison. The judges insist that such a meeting should be done through the glass separation wall and through a telephone in order to ensure recording of the whole conversation.

On its face the process as well as the procedures look fair, but essentially, systematic, structural and political violations of my basic right to fair procedure are practiced. The role of the attorney general is to criminalize me, not to seek truth.

In Gilboa prison there are approximately 600 Palestinian and Arab prisoners of freedom distributed into sections/branches. The distribution of prisoners is geopolitically oriented: prisoners of the West Bank, prisoners of 1948 (including occupied East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights) are together, while in the prisons located in the Naqab [Negev], prisoners of the West Bank are separated from those from Gaza. And prisoners from Gaza are separated along affiliation to Fatah or Hamas. The borders on the ground of the occupation based on the Apartheid Wall are valid in the prison demographic policy of distribution. It is the nature of imposed fragmentation in order to undermine the struggle against one of the biggest systematic colonial crimes and to weaken the collective struggle by destructing its structure of continuity and interaction.

I am doing a lot of efforts to bring hope and steadfastness to freedom prisoners. It is one of my missions inside prison. I have to keep in contact with Ittijah and the community and all solidarity movements, groups and persons, but most of all I have to correspond intensively as much as possible with my daughters Hind and Huda, who have become mature fighters for freedom, justice and dignity and mostly bringing back the happiness of life which was highjacked on 6 May at 2:30am. My wife Janan is leading in a heroic way the whole campaign as well as facing huge tasks at home.

Your letters are needed; the taste of solidarity is different in prison than being outside. The taste reflects the great solidarity, support and empowering acts.

Ameer Makhoul.100129-nieuwhof

Omar Saeed’s sister, Eman, and niece, Layla Taha, reported that they managed an apparently exceptional feat yesterday, given Israeli security arrangements, by getting a glimpse of him while he was being led back to prison from court, where his appeal was rejected.

And lo and behold.. his hands and feet were in shackles.

Layla herself was arrested over the same fabricated charges a few months back and was subsequently released. She reports that in addition to shackles, she was blindfolded at times. So one can only assume that the same applies to Ameer Makhoul and that these Guantanamo-esque practices are par for the course.
Nice going Shin Bet!!

Layla’s passport was confiscated upon release and the Israeli authorities are now playing a sordid game with her. They simply don’t know where it is. Are Omar and Ameer to expect to have to deal with the same petty tactics when they’re released!

Anyway, yesterday’s particular story had its own small happy ending. Layla and Eman cried Omar’s name; he looked up, blew them a kiss and gave them the victory sign…

Topic: Omar’s family steal a glimpse of him


Free Makhoul-Saidالحرية لامير مخول وعمر سعيدישוחרר אמיר מח’ול-עומר סעיד Photos
human rights, Israel, Shin Bet, democracy, prisoners, activists, Ameer Makhoul, torture
Free Ameer Makhoul !

Jan Boeykens 78725&op=1&view=all&subj=1445480105&id=6 62490090

اليوم في جلسة المحكمه الاخيره
It was very difficult to publish this message.
On our skynetblogs, we could not comment on this message.
After publishing a comment, we only saw a link to Facebook on our screen.

Israel convicts grassroots activist to two years’ imprisonment
Amy Darwish, The Electronic Intifada, 1 July 2010

Adeeb Abu Rahme during a protest against the wall in Bilin. (Hamde Abu Rahme)

On 30 June grassroots activist Adeeb Abu Rahmah was sentenced by Israel to two years imprisonment at a military court hearing at the Ofer Military Complex in the occupied West Bank. Abu Rahmah already spent 11 months behind bars and his arrest and detention is part of Israel’s repressive efforts to criminalize the grassroots popular resistance to the Israeli occupation.

Adeeb Abu Rahmah is known for his vibrant presence at the occupied West Bank village of Bilin’s weekly demonstrations against Israel’s wall and for his commitment to popular nonviolent resistance. A founding member of the Bilin Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, Abu Rahmah was arrested at a nonviolent demonstration on 10 July 2009 and later indicted by the military prosecution on grounds of “incitement,” “activity against public order,” and “being present in a closed military zone.”

Abu Rahmah has repeatedly affirmed his commitment to nonviolent resistance. He has also denied all charges, aside from acknowledging his participation in the weekly demonstrations. Although his release was initially ordered on 16 July 2009, the prosecution later appealed the decision and Abu Rahmah was remanded into custody for the duration of his legal proceedings.

Many contend that Israel’s investigation of Abu Rahmeh was flawed from the very beginning, and the Israeli military court system is notorious for its lack of respect for international standards of fair trial and detention. A 5 March 2010 Human Rights Watch report particularly highlighted many due process concerns where investigations regarding Palestinian anti-wall demonstrators are concerned, citing charges based on “questionable evidence and allegedly coerced confessions.”

According to Iyad Burnat, Head of the Bilin Popular Committee, the Israeli military in Abu Rahmah’s case “relied on the forced confessions of four Bilin youth — one 14, one 15 and two 16 years of age — to convict Adeeb for having told them to throw stones.”

Burnat added: “This problem is not confined to Bilin and has also emerged in other villages.”

Attorney Gaby Lasky, who is representing Abu Rahmah, noted that the testimony from the minors in question was provided under considerable duress. “They were arrested at 3:30am, they were handcuffed and blindfolded,” she said. “They were then interrogated at 2pm the next day, without having eaten or having had a chance to use the washroom.”

Israeli military authorities claim that they questioned the youths to determine who threw the stones, and the youths identified Abu Rahmah as having done so.

“Yet, several times, the demonstrators had thrown leaflets and other innocuous objects at the soldiers. We are arguing that the police investigation was so lacking that they didn’t even ask the youth what Adeeb had specifically said,” Lasky explained.

Lasky also noted that the youth were questioned by an interrogator who was not a specialist in questioning children, and the interrogation was carried out without the presence of a lawyer or the children’s parents. Human Rights Watch states that such practices directly contravene provisions under Israeli Military Orders that allow detainees to contact lawyers and grant child detainees the right to have a parent present during their interrogations.

The credibility of the investigation was also challenged when Lasky learned that a special army unit was filming the demonstrations and that the footage was being submitted as evidence against Abu Rahmah. When Lasky subsequently attempted to get ahold of the footage, however, she was told that all the cassettes had been erased.

“Under different circumstances, this might have been enough to acquit him,” Lasky said. “There have been many problems with the investigation and we had hoped that the court would take this into consideration.”

Ultimately, Abu Rahmah’s trial may portend broader implications where the popular resistance is concerned. “Adeeb’s indictment and conviction raise much bigger questions,” Lasky explained. “The trial is really against the demonstrations as a whole.” Indeed, Abu Rahmah’s indictment may signal an escalation in the use of legal strategies as a means of quelling the popular resistance.

For the past five years, the people of Bilin have waged an ongoing struggle against the construction of Israel’s wall, which has annexed large portions of their agricultural lands and threatens the economy of the village. Since the first bulldozers began to uproot olive trees in February 2005, the villagers have staged weekly demonstrations every Friday. Joining villages such as Budrus, Jayyus, Nilin and al-Masara, their creative tactics have captured the imaginations of many people around the world and inspired other Palestinian communities across the West Bank to take up the struggle.

Villagers in Bilin have also launched a precedent-setting legal challenge alongside its popular campaign. On 22 June 2009, court proceedings unfolded in the Quebec Superior Court, where the village filed their lawsuit against Green Mount and Green Park International, two Quebec-based companies involved in the construction of condos and the expansion of settlements at the village’s expense. Citing the Fourth Article of the Geneva Convention and the Canadian Law on Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes, the complaint accuses both companies of complicity in war crimes.

Coinciding with the legal challenge, three members of the Bilin Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements also visited 11 Canadian cities for a nation-wide speaking tour.

While the case was later rejected by the Quebec Superior Court in the fall of 2009, the village later appealed the decision at the Quebec Court of Appeals. During hearings that unfolded earlier this month, judges fielded arguments from the village’s legal team regarding the “justiceability” of the village’s claim. Lawyers for the village maintain that the Fourth Geneva Convention is not incorporated into Israeli law, thereby precluding the possibility that the case can be heard in the Israeli high court. At present, the Canadian court has taken the case under advisement and a decision is anticipated in the months to come.

While Bilin’s three-pronged strategy of direct action, court cases and international solidarity have kept it in the headlines, the Israeli military continues to repress it. Indeed, Abu Rahmah’s conviction represents the most recent development in a broader campaign to quell the popular struggle.

In a recent report, prisoner rights group Addameer and the Stop the Wall campaign have noted that violence has been systematically used by Israeli forces to suppress the popular resistance. It is estimated that more than 1,566 Palestinians have been injured and 16 have been killed between 2005 and 2009. In Bilin alone, approximately 1,300 protestors have been wounded during weekly demonstrations over the past five years. Israel’s directed policy of misusing dispersement tactics also claimed the life of Bilin’s Bassem Abu Rahmah, who was killed on 17 April 2009, when he was shot in the chest with a tear gas canister.

The Israeli military has also instituted a policy of targeted arrests and detention. According to Sahar Francis, director of Addameer, “this policy is very much part of a broader campaign of repression against any form of activism.” The use of detentions and arrests has also escalated considerably in recent years. “Within the past one or two years, it has increased considerably as momentum in the campaign against the wall builds.”

Since 2002, Addameer and Stop the Wall have documented the arrests of 176 Palestinian grassroots activists in five villages, namely Bilin, Nilin, al-Masara, Jayyus and Budrus. According to Bilin’s internal village statistics, 85 residents have been arrested since June 2009, many during the Israeli military’s frequent night raids into the village The recent wave of political arrests has targeted key community activists; five of those arrested are active with the Bilin Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, and all were charged with “incitement.”

Defined as “any act of attempting, whether verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order” under Article 7(a) of Military Order 101, the use of incitement as a blanket charge is controversial.

Attorney Lasky explained that “Until recently, people had not been charged with this particular offense for a very long time and it is now being interpreted very broadly.” In a recent press release, Amnesty International also cautioned that “the broad scope of Israeli military orders mean that Abu Rahmah could be imprisoned solely for legitimately exercising his right to freedom of expression in opposing Israeli policies in the West Bank.”

From Sahar Francis’ perspective, the use of vague language and nebulous parameters is no coincidence. “The first thing we should remember is that all forms of activism are deemed illegal,” she explained. “Participating in demonstrations, holding forums — all these things are considered to be incitement. You find very vague language and definitions so broad that any action can fit inside. This was written into the Military Orders in 1967 to permit them to adapt to evolving forms of resistance.”

Abu Rahmah’s case could also have far-reaching implications for other anti-wall activists currently awaiting trial. As Amnesty International explained, he could be “the first activist against the fence/wall to be brought to a full evidential trial in a case of this kind.” Abu Rahmah’s conviction could potentially set troubling new precedents for further criminalizing the popular resistance.

Abu Rahmah’s sentence has also come as a tremendous shock and disappointment to his family, and his ongoing imprisonment continues to weigh heavily upon them. Left without a financial provider, the family of ten has struggled to make ends meet for the past 11 months.

“I am a medical student at Abu Dis University, while my sister is also studying management at al-Quds Open University,” daughter Rajaa Abu Rahmah explained. “We also have to cover the costs of books and tuition, in addition to meeting basic needs. It has been really hard to get by.”

In addition to financial pressures, Abu Rahmah’s absence has also exacted a heavy emotional toll on the family. “This is the first time my father has been away from us, even for a short period of time,” stated Rajaa. “We feel angry all the time, for no reason. It has been a sad, lonely time for us all.”

Despite the challenges faced during his absence, the Abu Rahmah family remains steadfast. “We are not alone,” Rajaa said. “Many villages also have prisoners and people who have suffered injuries. It has been difficult, but we have to come out of this stronger.”

As the Abu Rahmah family has been resilient, so too has the popular struggle. The weekly demonstrations have continued unabated and resistance remains ongoing, even in the face of intense repression and legal persecution.

“Certain people may be more cautious in their participation,” Francis explained. “Still, the resistance is continuing and even expanding to new villages, such as Nabi Saleh. They are not succeeding in breaking the will of the people.”

Iyad Burnat said that the latest round of repression leaves the movement even more determined to sustain the popular struggle. “Israel will not break us on their anvil — they will only make us stronger with their repression and hammer blows.”

Burnat added, “After five years of struggle in the village, one murder and many disabling injuries we still strive with the words of Terence McSwiney — the Irish nationalist who fought the British occupation of Ireland and died on hunger strike in protest — in mind: ‘it is not those who can inflict the most, but those that can endure the most who will prevail.'”

Amy Darwish is a writer and community organizer active in the Tadamon! network in Montreal.

Israel: Abu-Tir

July 1, 2010

Abu-Tir arrested again

Senior Hamas member of Palestinian parliament violates order to leave Jerusalem, rearrested just month after release from Israeli jail

Shmulik Grossman

Published: 06.30.10, 18:31 / Israel News

Police arrested senior Hamas figure Muhammad Abu-Tir on Wednesday in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv, because he failed to leave the State after the Interior Ministryannulled his residency rights.

Abu-Tir was released just a month ago after four years behind bars. He was originally arrested as part of a wave of arrests made by Israel following the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Since his release, he has already beensummoned a number of times by police, and at the beginning of the month was detained for questioning – after which his ID card was annulled. He was also ordered to leave the State borders or face arrest.

Similar injunctions were issued against other Hamas members of the Palestinian Parliament, including Mohammad Totah, Khaled Abu-Arafa and Ahmad Attoun.During a Shin Bet interrogation just hours after his release, Abu-Tir was told he had to leave his hometown Jerusalem within a month (by June 19).

“I don’t know what to say, this is an injustice which reflects an attempt at extortion,” Abu-Tir said to Ynet at the time. “They told me I must remain in my village (Umm Tuba) and never go to the city. I don’t know the reason for this.”

Last Friday Abu-Tir met PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. The president supported the Hamas members of Parliament who were ordered to leave Jerusalem, saying the deportation would set a “dangerous precedent.”

He informed them that “the PA has contacted a number of states, including Israel and the US, in an attempt to stop Israel’s plan to prevent the four who have been elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council from being Jerusalem residents.”Palestinian sources said Abu-Tir was arrested as he left his village, and that among those who arrested him were undercover officers disguised as Arabs. His family was unable to define the area forbidden to Abu-Tir, who holds the second slot on Hamas’ party list.

They say they do not know where he has been taken and fear he may be prevented from returning home.Sources in the PA expressed hope that as a result of Palestinian efforts to contact international figures, Israel may rescind its deportation order against the four Hamas members of Parliament.

Ali Waked also contributed to this report.

After meeting with Israeli counterpart Lieberman, Lavrov clarifies Moscow trying to convince Palestinian group to engage in diplomacy, says ‘we are witnessing positive movements.’ Russia is continuing its efforts to reach a compromise in Iranian nuclear issue, he adds