Israel Adds Another Four Months on Anti-Wall Activist Sentence

Abdallah Abu Rahma’s students are going to have to wait for their teacher for a little longer.  It wasn’t enough for Israel to send Rahma to jail for a year for leading non-violent protests against the wall/fence in the West Bank.  Now, having been kept detained, even after he was suppose to be released November 18th,Israel has compounded the outrage by tacking on another four months in jail for the prisoner of conscience.

Abdallah Abu Rahma

“By extending Abdallah Abu Rahma’s sentence the Israeli authorities appear to be seeking not only to punish him further in a case where the prosecution’s evidence was questionable to begin with, but to deter others from participating in legitimate protests,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

The story of Abdallah Abu Rahma is typical of the many Palestinians who attempt to bring change to their communities through peaceful means.  They don’t get a lot of attention here in the United States, but Rahma, like other activists, is an important man in the West Bank village of Bil’in.

He is a teacher. As we have written earlier, Rahma is warm and articulate, the kind of spokesman who brings home the deep, divisive impact the wall/fence is creating on many Palestinian communities.  As head of the Popular Committee Against the Wall, he is well known to Amnesty International as a political activist with a long-term public commitment to using peaceful means to raise international awareness of the human rights violations.

He has won court rulings that would reroute the wall in his community, but the orders have been ignored by the military.  He has held regular peaceful demonstrations against the wall, but his work is met with spurious charges based on retracted claims of children, and conviction after an unfair trial in military court.  This is the lot given to non-violent Palestinian activists.

Amnesty International has made Rahma a prisoner of conscience and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

Here are two additional recent statements on Abdallah Abu Rahma and non-violent Palestinian activists.

Israel must stop harassment and detention of Palestinian activists (Jan. 8, 2010)

Palestinian anti-wall protester convicted by Israeli military court (Aug., 2010)

Caterpillar Inc's Role in Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

A coalition of student groups from the Arizona university system invited me recently to talk to the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) about Caterpillar, Inc’s role in violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).  Although an unusual setting, I accepted for a number of reasons.

Although Amnesty International (AI) hasn’t focused on Caterpillar (CAT) in an action since our 2004 report, there has been a frightening surge in home demolitions and forced evictions in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem recently, as well as demolitions in ‘unrecognized’ villages like Al-‘Araqib inside Israel – which has a current AI Urgent Action in effect.  Over the past 3 weeks, the IDF has demolished dozens of structures in the OPT and the Israeli authorities continue to use CAT equipment regularly to carry out these demolitions, so AI continues to have longstanding and ongoing concerns.

Grandfather and grandchild watch home in Sur Baher east Jerusalem being demolished by CAT machinery March 2007. Keren Manor/

The day before I left for Arizona, the IDF demolished 10 residential structures and the village school in the West Bank village of Khirbet Tana.  Sixty-one (61) people including 13 children were left without shelter.