On July 19, 2010 Bil’in was subjected to yet another Israeli Occupation Forces night raid when an unusually heavy number of Israeli soldiers entered the outskirts of the village to arrest a local youth; 17 year old Ahmad Abed Al-Fatah Burnat – who unfortunately was arrested.
At 1:30 in the morning on July 19th armed Israeli soldiers drove into Bil’in under the cover of the pitch black night, and raided the house of well known activist Wajeeh Burnat, one of the main characters in the film Bil’in Habibti. This time, the raid was conducted to take Ahmad, his 17 year-old son.
Ahmad was taken by jeep to Ofer military prison located outside Ramallah, where arrestees from Bil’in are normally taken. His family witnessed their son and brother being taken away without knowing why. There is still uncertainty why the Israeli army came in 12 jeeps and stormed the family’s house kidnapping the 17 year old that night.
Ahmad was held for seven days in Ofer. What we know from experience is that the prisoners in Ofer, especially young boys are put under harsh conditions, with the intention of pressuring them to give information about other villagers. We know that many are denied food and water for extended periods of time and exposed to extreme cold or heat. This coupled with the uncertainty of when he is to be released makes the situation unbearable for his family. All this is done to make the prisoners confess false charges, or to falsely confess that they have witnessed other people i.e. throwing stones.
Last Sunday, a military judge ruled Ahmad could be released, but only on the condition that a sum of 10,000 NIS (2,600 USD) be deposited as bail.
Ahmad’s family has lost most of its land to the construction of the Wall, and have paid dearly for their role in the struggle – Ahmad’s eldest brother, Rani, is paralyzed from the neck down after being shot in the neck by a sniper during a demonstration in the year 2000. Following the injury, Israel also revoked Ahmad’s father’s work permit. Another of Ahmad’s brothers, Ibrahim Burnat, was also arrested six months ago and has been in jail since.
Ahmad’s family cannot afford the money to pay Ahmad’s bail. Unless we are able to raise that sum, he will remain languishing at the Ofer Military Prison for the duration of his trial, which could last one year.
Raids such as the one Ahmad was arrested in are not exceptional in Bil’in, or in any of the other villages in which grassroots protest against the occupation takes place on a regular basis. In Bil’in alone, ninety people have been arrested in connection to demonstrations in the village.
The West Bank village of Bil’in, among numerous other villages, has been targeted by Israeli authorities for their commitment to grassroots organizing. Hundreds more have been arrested in the past two years in Ni’ilin, Nabi Saleh, Budrus, Jayyous, alMa’asara and the other villages who take part in the popular struggle against the occupation.
The popular committee has seen hundreds of Bil’in residents being arrested over the years, and have been forced to pay a total of more than 300,000 NIS for bail. In addition, the costs for the trials are estimated to lie at around 2,800 NIS per person, per court appearance. Thus, we urgently need your support now, to release Ahmad. If we together can raise 10 000 shekels as soon as possible Ahmad will be released after the 37 hours have passed. The popular committee is kindly asking for donations so that we can pay for Ahmad’s bail:
Every such arrest is a threat to our ability to sustain this new vital wave of grassroots resistance. Lawyers fees, bails and prisoner support are an obstacle that we will be able to overcome, but to do so, we need your support today more than we have ever needed it before.
Please click here to make a donation and encourage the work being done in these villages. Your contributions can help us stand up for a true justice in Palestine.
Exceprt from the film featuring Ahmad, Interrupted Streams
Trailer for the film Bil’in Habibti