The legacy of Abdullah Abu Rahmeh and other human rights defenders: time for Israel to face justice for its ongoing repression
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The legacy of Abdullah Abu Rahmeh and other human rights defenders: time for Israel to face justice for its ongoing repression

The Occupation has increased its violent and systematic campaign against the popular resistance and the grassroots activists, using several brutal and illegal methods which attempt to stop their actions.

This includes killing activists Aqul Abu Srour from Bil’in and Bassem Abu Rahma from Ni’lin, violent repression of the weekly protests resulting in many injuries. Also night raids, incursions and curfews imposed in the villages, and the arrest of many activists, including minors, who are subjected to long interrogations, confinement in prison cells and constant mental and physical pressure in order to extract false confessions. Last year saw many courts dealing with many different cases against human rights defenders, whilst activists were being held for long periods without a charge or trial. Some were also given long sentences for trumped up charges such as owning weapons and ‘threatening the security of the Occupation Forces’, such as Adeeb Abu Rahma.

Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, the co-ordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee was arrested last December and first accused of serious charges. The trial went on for 10 months, and ended with all those charges being dropped against him, including the ridiculous accusations of possession of arms, which in fact were bullets fired by the Israeli forces which he’d collected on protests to display in his home. Nevertheless the Military Court used anti-free speech legislation to impose a punishment on him for ‘incitement’ and organizing portests. He was sentenced to 1 year in prison and 6 months suspended sentence for 3 years. That means that he is not allowed to take part in any anti-Wall or anti-Settlement activities, otherwise he will be put into prison for 3 years. He was given a fine of 5000 shekels.

The Occupation’s systematic pattern of repression once again showcased in the sentencing of Abdallah Abu Rahme aims at criminalizing the work of the popular committees’ and is an attempt to stop the popular resistance which week after week reminds the world about the real racist and colonial face of the Occupation – the ongoing settlement expansion, the construction of the illegal Apartheid Wall and its associated regime. It is these actions by the Occupation which are at the core of Israel’s ethnic cleansing and Zionist project to take over all Palestinian land. We see this in Jerusalem where families are being expelled from their houses; we see it across the lands occupied since 1967, where Israel is trying to change the geopolitical map and force all Palestinians to live in ghettoes and Bantustans..

Who should be judged right now is the State of Israel and its legal system, which attempts to justify its repressive actions as ‘security measures’ and defend the crimes it commits against unarmed Palestinian activists. It is the State of Israel which is responsible for demolishing homes and stealing lands, forced expulsion and displacement, arresting children and putting them on trial. The State of Israel also ignores the crimes of its army and the settlers.

However, Israel never learned from its lessons, and still thinks that killing, oppressing, arresting, torturing and imposing unjust sentences will stop the Palestinian people from continuing their struggle and demanding their rights. That is exactly what Israel did against the Palestiian and Arab liberation movements for more than 60 years, and what it did in the first and second Intifada. This same pattern is now applied against the popular resistance against the Wall and settlements.

Abdullah Abu Rahmeh will not stop; just as the activists before him never stopped. We will continue to resist the Apartheid Wall and Israeli racist policies until they are defeated. The struggles of the people have ended apartheid in South Africa, have torn down the Berlin Wall and will overcome this Apartheid Wall.