The Israeli military, on Tuesday, entered and searched the village of Bi’lin, near Ramallah in the West Bank, in a pre-dawn raid. The military claimed to be searching for Ashraf al-Khatib, a resident of the village who was wounded by live munition fire five weeks weeks ago at a demonstration.Local journalist, Hamde Abu Rahme, reports that at 3am a group of approximately 50 Israeli soldiers entered the village of Bi’lin, and surrounded two houses, demanding to see Ashraf al-Khatib. One of the houses surrounded, belongs to two of Mr. Khatib’s brothers, one of whom is journalist Haytham al-Khatib, who works for the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem.
The soldiers entered the house, claiming to be searching for Ashraf, and checked the ID’s of those residing in the house. Haytham al-Khatib attempted to record the raid with his video camera, but was repeatedly prevented from doing so, resulting in Haythem being locked in a room, separate from his wife and children, for upwards of one hour.
The raid ended at approximately 4:30am, with the military having conducted searches of three homes. No damages to property have been reported.
Ashraf al-Khatib was wounded on September 24, at the weekly demonstration held in the village of Bi’lin, by live ammunition fire. The 0.22 caliber bullet passed through his lower leg, breaking the bone in the process, and required surgery. Despite the seriousness of the wound, and the substantial bleeding that resulted from the shooting, the Israeli military attempted to arrest Mr. Khatib on the spot.
Mr. Khatib was carried, by villagers, away from the demonstration, and was able to receive the surgery he required, although the same evening the Israeli military came and arrested him.
The weekly protests are against the Israeli built wall, that annexes land from West Bank towns and villages, often with the intention of expanding Israeli settlements on the taken land.
Bi’lin has been holding their weekly protest for over five years, leading to increased international awareness, with visits from the Elders, a group of politicians and human rights activist formed by Nelson Mandela in 2007, and Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, who stated that the actions in Bi’lin are “a model for contemporary nonviolent popular resistance”.
Recently, Bi’lin’s Abdullah Abu Rahme was sentenced to one years imprisonment for his role in the non-violent actions in the village, a conviction criticized by the the EU and the UK’s Foreign Ministry, as a suppression of the valid rights of the Palestinians to protest abuses of human rights against them.
To view Haythem al-Khatib’s video, please follow this link.