26 Israeli soldiers entered the West Bank village of Bil’in, near Ramallah, on Wednesday at 3 am. They detained 2 Palestinians, one a journalist, and an international journalist.Local sources report that the soldiers entered Bil’in, initially with the intention of arresting local man, Ibrahim Abed El Fatah Bornat, only.
As the soldiers passed through the village, they encountered another local man, Ashraf Abu Rahmah, who was handcuffed and removed from the vicinity of Bornat’s although not arrested.
The Israeli military then proceeded to enter the home of Bornat, who was subsequently arrested and taken away.
At approximately 3:30 am, a military convoy of 7 jeeps entered Bil’in and Bornat’s home was thoroughly searched. Items belonging to the family were removed, including Bornat’s computer and documents belonging to his brother, Mohammed.
During the search, the military closed the area of the home, and established a perimeter of 50 meters. The soldiers declared the area a closed military zone, and when requested to show the court order allowing this action, produced a document that was written in Hebrew only.
Local journalist, Hamde Abu Rahmah, also a volunteer with Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, approached the house, in an attempt to take photographs and was subsequently arrested. During this incident, an international journalist of U.S. citizenship, known to locals as ‘Stormy’, was also detained.
These arrests follow the detention of Mohammed al-Khatib, leading member of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlement Construction in Bil’in, last week, in a similar pre-dawn raid, and recent incidents involving internationals.
On Monday, 11th January, International Solidarity Movement media co-ordinator, Eva Novakova, was arrested and deported, following a night time raid by the Israeli military into the West Bank city of Ramallah, and on the Wednesday, 20th January, chief English editor of Ma’an News Agency was deported following 8 days in detention. His girlfriend, Faith Rowald, a volunteer for the Lutheran Church in Jerusalem, had been deported six days prior.
Ibrahim Abed El Fatah Bornat and Hamde Abu Rahmah are the 36th and 37th residents of Bil’in to have been arrested since June 2009, in the escalating crackdown on organizers of non-violent protest, with similar events occurring regularly in the West Bank, including the villages of Ni’lin and al-Ma’sara.