Abdullah Abu Rahma, a leader of the non-violent movement in Palestine currently imprisoned in an Israeli detention camp for “incitement”, faces two new hearings this week as Israeli prosecutors attempt to increase his sentence beyond the one year term he is now serving.Abu Rahma has been a key organizer of the weekly anti-Wall protests held each Friday since 2005 in the West Bank village of Bil’in – known worldwide as the center of non-violent resistance in Palestine. In August, an Israeli court convicted Abu Rahma on two charges: incitement, and participating in an illegal protest. They had also attempted to charge him with possession of weapons for an art piece he had created – a peace sign made out of spent tear gas canisters and rubber bullets fired by the Israeli military at protesters.
The hearings this week involve two charges – one from 2005, and one from 2009, both related to Abu Rahma’s organizing of non-violent protests in Bil’in. Prosecutors hope to increase his sentence beyond the one-year imprisonment, six-month suspended sentence, and 5,000 NIS fine currently in place.
Abu Rahma’s cause has been taken up by human rights groups around the world, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. South African leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called Abu Rahma a prisoner of conscience, and called for his release.
The European Union has also called for an investigation of the case, which they say appears to be part of a policy of suppression of political dissent by Israeli authorities who are in charge of governing the West Bank with military force.