After spending 11 months in detention with no trial or charges, non-violent anti-Wall organizer Adeeb Abu Rahma faced an Israeli military tribunal which sentenced him to two additional years in prison for organizing peaceful, lawful protests in the village of Bil’in.The tribunal sentenced Abu Rahma on 30 June 2010, charging him with “encouraging violence”, engaging in “activity against public order” and of being “present in a closed military area”, as Bil’in has been declared every Friday from 8am to 8pm, in order to prevent the weekly non-violent demonstration. Adeeb lives in the village, and always has; so he has been convicted of being present in his own home.
In fact, Adeeb Abu Rahma has been one of the town’s major proponents of non-violence, committed to maintaining this discipline even when the demonstrations are violently attacked by Israeli forces. One of his relatives, Bassem Abu Rahma, was even killed last year during a non-violent demonstration when Israeli forces fired a high-velocity tear gas canister directly at his chest at close range. When Israeli commanders conducted an internal investigation of the incident, they ruled that the soldier who fired the canister was acting within military guidelines, and he was not reprimanded or punished.
Even despite this violence, and the theft of Bil’in’s village land which was ruled to be illegal by the Israeli High Court several years ago, Adeeb Abu Rahma remained committed to the discipline of non-violence, and encouraged all of the people in the village to stand with him in non-violent protest against the theft of their land for the construction of the Israeli Annexation Wall.
The sentencing of Abu Rahma and a number of other non-violent organizers has led some organizers to accuse the Israeli authorities of trying to attack legitimate and peaceful protest in order to push the Palestinian people toward violence and radicalism. They point to anti-colonial writers like Frantz Fanon, who have documented the use of this tactic in other colonial enterprises, such as in Algeria and other parts of Africa.
Adeeb Abu Rahma is a taxi-driver and he has 11 children, and he is well known for his generosity and constant presence at Bil’in’s weekly demonstrations against Israel’s wall as well as his commitment to popular nonviolent resistance.
According to the ‘Stop the Wall’ campaign, “The sentence is part of an Israeli strategy to repress and criminalize popular nonviolent struggle against the Occupation and the Wall.”
Adeeb Abu Rahma’s case relied on the forced confessions of four Bil’in youth – 14, 15 and 16 years old – arrested during a night raid by Israeli soldiers and forced to state that Adeeb told them to throw stones at the soldiers. Interrogating youth to force them to make false confessions is considered a crime under international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory.
For the past five years the people from Bil’in have waged an ongoing struggle against the Israeli wall and the Occupation. Other villages such as Nil’in, Al-Ma’asara, Budrus, Jayyus, An-Nabi Saleh, Iraq Burin and Al-Wallaja have joined this struggle.
According to data provided by Addameer and Stop the Wall, more than 1,566 Palestinians have been injuried and 16 have been killed between 2005 and 2009 during nonviolent demonstration in the Occupied Territories. Since 2002, in the villages of Bilin, Nilin, Al-Ma’asara, and Budrus, 176 Palestinian citizens have been arrested.