Yesterday morning in the West Bank village of Bil’in (Palestine), Israeli military and police forces performed violent late night/early-morning raids upon approximately 15 Palestinian homes.
The Israeli forces arrived to the village from various directions in as many as 20 armored military jeeps accompanied by trucks. It is estimated that over 150 soldiers were present for the duration of the village raids. The raids started at approximately 1:20 A.M and lasted until 4:00 A.M, Israel routinely raids Palestinian villages at early hours of the morning for the purpose of surprise and harassment.
After the arrest of Ashraf Abu Rahmah on the 27th of October, the weekly friday demonstrations - that have taken place since January, 2005 - have intensified, with more people attending the protests leading to a more violent Israeli suppression of this activism. Ashraf is set to attend court again for the fourth time this Tuesday, after several delays of his court case.
The result of todays raid saw the arrest of two villagers, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, who is the head of Bil’in’s popular committee and also Ahmad Abu Rahmah, aged 16. The Israeli forces also detained two men named Mohammad Adeeb Abu Rahmah and Ismail Abu Rahmah, who were both taken from their homes, threatened and had their hands bound.
Fifteen homes were turned upside down by Israeli armed forces, who threatened the residents verbally and physically. Israeli forces also approached the homes of several well known activists, such as Iyad Burnat, threatening family members with arrest. The perceived objective of the raids according to villagers, including Kefah Mansour - who I personally spoke to during the raids - was to find any evidence that could link villagers to cutting the fence at the wall of separation or throwing stones. The Shebak (Israeli intelligence) were also allegedly present and questioned several families.
Haitham Khatib who was filming and photographing what he could of the raids, testified to have seen the Israelis fire a canister of internationally banned tear gas.
According to Hamde Abu Rahmah, in his live video from early on during the village raids, Israeli forces had been asking several Palestinians to become paid informants for the Israeli state.
The two arrested villagers are currently believed to be held at Ofer military prison, although their families have not received any reasoning as to why they have been taken.
The Israeli forces did not state a specific reason for raiding the village homes, nor were they able to justify entering the village in such a loud and disturbing way, so late into the night when people were sleeping.
It is not clear how long they will hold those who were just arrested. Ashraf Abu Rahmah has currently had his court dates extended three times, the Israeli court doesn’t seem to have any evidence to suggest that he threw stones but is employing it’s usage of administrative detention, which it can utilize in order to hold any Palestinian indefinitely, without evidence of involvement in what Israel deems illegal actions.
The Israeli military court system currently has a near 100% conviction rate and has been accused by human rights groups such as B’Tselem as being nothing more than a kangaroo court. Even children can find themselves locked away in Israeli dungeons for up to 20 years for throwing stones at occupying forces and settlers who are illegally present on their land.
According to international law, the usage of tear gas - an internationally banned chemical weapon - is completely un-acceptable, imprisoning children - who are denied the basic rights granted to any prisoner - is un-acceptable. It is supposedly a violation of international law for the wall of separation to exist on Palestinian land, let alone the settlements behind and in some cases in front of them. Supposedly, holding people indefinitely against their will and without sufficient evidence, is against international law and harassment during the night of innocent civilians is also a crime.
What was done early this morning in Bil’in alone should be enough to outrage the international community. According to their perceived standards of upholding human rights, measures undoubtably should be taken to end the various violations committed by the Israeli entity. Instead however, nothing is done and anyone that dares even to point out a single villages hellish night raid, is to be painted as an evil anti-semite. For merely pointing a finger at a single action of the Israeli state, those that do so will likely be pressured out of their position of influence and/or of power.