Residents of Bil'in, joined by Israeli and International activists, gathered on Friday for the weekly protest against the Wall. Earlier this week Israeli military court sentenced Ashraf Abu Rahmah of Bil'in to six months in prison and six months suspended for three years, in addition to a 3000 NIS fine. Abu Rahmah was charged with the "usual charge" of stone throwing. Despite extensive evidence provided by the defense countering the prosecution's allegations, the Military court has ordered Ashraf's arrest extended until the end of legal procedures. As the trial began, a high ranking military officer (battalion commander) gave a mendacious testimony in court, saying he clearly recognized Ashraf leading the stone-throwing. As the false testimony by the officer practically annulled any prospect for his acquittal, Ashraf agreed to a plea bargain. Had he opted to run his trial instead, putting his fate in the hands of the soldier-judge who presided in his case, he would have almost certainly faced an even heftier sentence.
The demonstration marched from the center of the village towards the re-routed Wall. During the march protesters called for the immediate release of all political prisoners and chanted liberation slogans. Even before making it to the Wall, the march was met by a volley of tear-gas canisters, shot at them by an army regiment that was impatiently waiting for the show to begin. Several protesters were able, despite the large amounts of tear gas, to cross the fence surrounding the Wall and place Palestinian flags in the seam zone between the fences. This symbolic action led the army to resort to even more force, shooting rubber coated bullets at the crowd, injuring one 24 year old protester. The "skunk", a truck carrying a water canon that sprays foul-smelling water was also used to disperse the demonstration. No arrests were made.
Ashraf Abu Rahmah is the brother of two Bil'in residents who were killed while participating in the village's demonstrations. His brother, Bassem, was shot dead during a peaceful protest on April 17th, 2009, when soldiers fired a high-velocity tear-gas projectile directly at him from a distance of about 40 meters. Ashraf's sister,Jawaher, died of cardiac arrest caused by poisoning, as a result of inhaling massive amounts of tear-gas on January 1st, 2011.
Video: the arrest of Ashraf Abu Rahmah
Ashraf himself was the subject of gross military misconduct. On July 7th, 2008 in the entrance to the West Bank village of Ni’lin, soldiers shot Ashraf in the foot at close range while he was bound and blindfolded. The event was caught on tape, and caused vast international outrage. Due to the concern raised by people like you, Israeli authorities were eventually pressured to bring about an indictment of the shooting soldier and Lt. Col. Omri Borberg who ordered the shooting, and convict them both. Given the context and lack of evidence, Ashraf's arrest and continued detention suggest that Israeli authorities are unjustly persecuting him for past events.