Abdullah Abu Rahme, a Palestinian organizer of the weekly non-violent demonstrations in Bil’in village, in the central West Bank, was released from prison on Monday after serving a 16-month sentence for ‘incitement’.Abu Rahme was initially charged with ‘possession of a weapon’, based on an art display he created of a peace sign made from spent tear gas canisters fired by the Israeli military at demonstrators. That charge was later changed to ‘incitement’ based on the testimony of young teens who were tortured by the Israeli military, according to the youth and their lawyers.
Dozens of supporters waited for Abu Rahme’s release for hours on Monday outside of Ofer Prison, near Ramallah in the central West Bank. They included Israelis, Palestinians and international non-violent activists who waved flags and held signs and posters of Abu Rahme.
He walked out of the prison gate alone, and immediately hugged and kissed his children. He then told the crowd that he planned to continue the non-violent struggle against the takeover of his village’s land by Israel. He said, ‘On my release, I have no intention to go back home and sit there idly. In fact, by imprisoning me they have silenced me long enough. Our cause is just, it is one striving for freedom and equality, and I intend to continue fighting for it just as I have before.’
The non-violent struggle in Bil’in village began in 2003, as Israeli forces began to construct an electrified set of fences that split the village in half, annexing the most arable farmland for Israel. The villagers, including Abu Rahme, began organizing weekly non-violent demonstrations every Friday to oppose the construction of the Annexation Wall on their land. 14 protesters have been killed by Israeli forces since these non-violent demonstrations began.