The War Resisters’ International condemns the arrest on 28 January 2010 of Mohammed Khatib of Bil’in, Palestine.
The War Resisters’ International Council, assembled in Ahmedabad, India, learned of the arrest of Mohammed Khatib by the Israeli military at his home at 1:45 am yesterday. Mohammed Khatib has played a central role in the popular committee planning and coordinating the struggle of the Bil’in village against the Apartheid Wall, constructed by Israel inside the 1967 occupied territories.
The Bil’in struggle – in its steadfastness, in its great creativity and in the exemplary cooperation between the Palestinian, Israeli and international activists taking part in it – has become a symbol of nonviolent struggle and an inspiration to nonviolent movements worldwide.
Khatib’s arrest is part of a large wave of dozens of similar arrests of Palestinian nonviolence organizers in Bil’in itself and elsewhere. He is only one of many targeted in an escalating Israeli repression of nonviolent activism in the West Bank and indeed in all parts of Israel/Palestine. Mohammed’s arrest is particularly relevant for us as he had planned to come speak at our conference, but had to remain in Bil’in after the recent arrest of another Bil’in Popular Committee organizer, Abdallah Abu Rahmah.
The repression of nonviolence organizers in Palestine concerns all of the participants in this WRI conference, entitled “Nonviolent Livelihood Struggles and Global Militarism: Links and Strategies.” Bil’in is a stark example of a struggle against militarism that is also a nonviolent struggle for livelihood, as villagers have been separated from their land and means of subsistence by the military and the Apartheid Wall.
The criminalization of dissent in Israel/Palestine, initiated and executed by the Israeli military, has escalated over recent months. Khatib is being charged with “incitement,” defined under Israeli military law as “an attempt, whether verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area [the 1967 occupied territories] in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order,” hence criminalizing any and all protest. These nighttime raids of organizers’ homes have increased all over the West Bank, as Israeli and Palestinian nonviolent protestors are arrested every week in East Jerusalem, and as the siege of Gaza continues.
War Resisters’ International supports Mohammed Khatib and the nonviolent resistance struggle in Palestine. We condemn the wave of arrests and demand the immediate release of Mohammed and his comrades. We call upon supporters of peace around the world who believe in democracy to take action in support of the right of an people under occupation who are waging nonviolent struggle to demonstrate. A just and peaceful struggle cannot be broken by repression.
War Resisters' International Council Meeting, 29 January 2010