Three residents of Ni’ilin were arrested in a pre-dawn military incursion into the village of Ni’ilin today. This is the 15th time such a raid was conducted in the past month in order to apprehend Palestinian anti-Wall activists. Today’s arrests are a continuation of a concerted assault on the popular struggle movement and its leadership.
Shortly after 3 am tonight, dozens of Israeli soldiers participated in a night-time incursion on the Wes Bank village of Ni’ilin as part of a prolonged arrest campaign against the village held by the army in the past month. Among those arrested was also Mustafa Amirah, a man in his 50s, who was only arrested because his son was not at home when the soldiers arrived to arrest him, and in an illegitimate and illegal attempt to apply pressure on him. During the raid soldiers broke into five additional houses, but carried no arrests in them.
Tonight’s raid is the 15th one to be held in Ni’ilin alone since 16 December. During this period the army had arrested twenty of the village’s residents in connection to anti-Wall protest. The past month’s arrestees include Ibrahim Amirah, Hassan Mousa and Zaydoun Srour, members of the village’s popular committees (the body that organizes the demonstrations), who were arrested last week. Since demonstrations began in Ni’ilin, in May of 2008, 109 of the villages residents were arrested for their involvement in anti-Wall protests.
The arrests tonight are an escalation of an ongoing and extensive Israeli attempt to suppress the Palestinian popular resistance. Similar raids to the ones conducted in Ni’ilin have also been conducted in the village of alMaasara, south of Bethlehem and in the village of Bil’in – where 34 residents have been arrested in the past six months, as well as in the cities of Nablus, Ramallah and East Jerusalem.
The recent wave of arrests is also an assault on the members of the Popular Committees – the leadership of the popular struggle – who are charged with incitement when arrested. The charge of incitement, defined in military law as “an attempt, whether verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order”, is a cynic attempt to equate grassroots organizing with a hefty charge and lengthy imprisonments. Such indictments are part of the army’s strategy to use legal measures as a means of quashing the popular movement.
Among those arrested in the recent campaign are also five members of the Bil’in Popular Committee, all suspected of incitement, and include Adeeb Abu Rahmah – who is already held in detention for over six months, and Abdallah Abu Rahmah – the Bil’in Popular Committee coordinator.
Prominent grassroots activists Jamal Jum’a (East Jerusalem) and Mohammed Othman (Jayyous) of the Stop the Wall NGO, involved in anti-Wall and boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigning, have recently been released from detention after being incarcerated for long periods based on secret evidence and with no charges brought against them.