Israeli military court convicts organizer of Bil'in anti-Wall demonstrations

On Tuesday, the Israeli military court in Ofer Prison, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, decided to convict Abdallah Abu Rahma, coordinator since its founding in 2005 of the Popular Committee Against the Wall in Bil’in.

He has been held in jail since last December. He will be sentenced in September.

The Stop the Wall campaign noted that the conviction came after more than 30 hearings in the Ofer Prison military court.

The EU issued a statement on Wednesday that closely followed a Stop the Wall press release.

Issued in the name of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU statement said that “The High Representative is concerned by the conviction of 39-year-old Abdallah Abu Rahma in an Israeli military court on charges of incitement and organising and attending demonstrationsThe EU considers Abdallah Abu Rahma to be a Human Rights Defender committed to non violent protest against the route of the Israeli separation barrier through his West Bank village of Bil’in. The EU considers the route of the barrier where it is built on Palestinian land to be illegal. The High Representative is deeply concerned that the possible imprisonment of Mr Abu Rahma is intended to prevent him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to protest against the existence of the separation barriers in a non violent manner“.

The EU statement added, in a note to Editors, that “The EU attended all court hearings in the case of Abdallah Abu Rahma”…

The Stop the Wall campaign noted, in a press release, that “Nearly 17 diplomats, consuls, and international solidarity activists were present at the hearing” on Tuesday.

The Israeli military court did not sustain other charges brought against Abu Rahma, a high school teacher in the nearby West Bank town of Bir Zeit, of throwing stones and possession of weapons.

UPDATE: On Friday 27 August, South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu said he was “deeply concerned about the conviction earlier this week of Abdallah Abu Rahmah by an Israeli military court. When I met him with my fellow Elders last year, we were very impressed by his commitment to non-violence and the wise leadership he showed. He and his fellow activists have had some success in challenging the wall that divides the people of Bil’in from their land. Israel’s attempt to crack down on this effective resistance movement by criminalizing peaceful protest is unacceptable and unjust. I urge the Israeli authorities to release Abdallah Abu Rahmah immediately and unconditionally, and to overturn his conviction.” For more information about the Eldars, and their work, see here.

The overall coordinator of the Stop the Wall campaign, Jamal Juma, a resident of East Jerusalem, was also arrested in late 2009 — but was released after weeks of detention without any charges ever being filed against him.

The Stop the Wall campaign noted in their statement today that approximately 50 Palestinian human rights defenders from d Bil’in village, west of Ramallah, have been arrested in the past year “because of their involvement and participation in activities against the construction of the wall in the village”.

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