Israel releases non-violent protest leader 13Dec10 December 14, 2010

Ma’an News Agency -  13 December 2010

Israeli authorities on Sunday released anti-wall activist Adeeb Abu Rahmah after detaining him for 18 months.

Adeeb was convicted of “incitement” for his role in organizing non-violent weekly protests against the separation wall in Bil’in, which annexes 60 percent of the village’s land. The International Court of Justice and the Israeli Supreme Court ruled the route of the wall illegal.

An Israeli military court sentenced Adeeb to 12 months in prison, but a military judge extended his sentence to 18 months after an appeal by army prosecutors.

Commenting on his imprisonment, the father of nine told Ma’an it was unjust. “For what reason did they send me to jail for 18 months?”

Asked whether non-violent rallies can really change anything on the ground, he maintained there would be positive results. “Non-violent rallies definitely have positive influence. Within three months from now, this change will be felt. The Israelis have completed a cement wall around the nearby settlement, and everything in the village is expected to be back as it was in the past.”

Hesitant to confirm whether he would continue to partake in future rallies, and at the same time proud of the people of his village, he said “If Adeeb Abu Rahmah does not join the rallies, there are a thousand others who can carry on. More than 150 activists from Bil’in have been detained so far, and that did not impede activities.”

Abdallah Abu Rahmah, head of the Popular Committee Against the Wall in Bil’in, who was arrested on 10 December 2009, is still in detention.

Abdallah was due to be released on 18 November, having served a 12-month sentence, but remained in detention following a last-minute appeal by military prosecutors to aggravate his sentence.

Twenty diplomats attended Ofer military court to hear the prosecutor’s appeal. The judge has yet to announce his decision.

Abdallah’s detention sparked international condemnation, and led to calls for his release from many prominent figures including Desmond Tutu, former US President Jimmy Carter, former Irish President Mary Robinson and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. Rights organizations Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have also condemned the activist’s conviction.

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