Bil’in activist beaten in night raid

September 25th, 2009 | Posted in Boycott, Canada, Palestine, Quebec
    Hour by Stefan Christoff, September 17th, 2009.


Photo: Valerian Mazataud. In Montreal Mohammed Khatib speaks to the media.

Eyewitnesses on the ground in Bil’in, Palestine, recount that in the early morning hours of Sept. 16, Israeli occupation forces seriously beat Palestinian community member and activist Mohammad Khatib during a nighttime military raid on civilian homes in Bil’in.

“As Israeli soldiers came into Bil’in, Mohammad came over to the soldiers who were raiding a civilian home without pretext and threw him down on the ground and began beating him,” outlines Israeli human rights lawyer Emily Schaeffer who represents Bil’in village.

“Mohammad’s face is heavily swollen and he has major chest pains from the beating,” continues Schaeffer. “It is very clear since the end of June, the Israeli army is trying to take down Bil’in’s popular struggle, trying to force the village to stop the weekly protests, several times a week the army is raiding homes and arresting people.”

Khatib was also targeted for arrest by Israeli occupation forces in recent months, as the Israeli army imprisoned him on administrative charges for over two weeks this summer after Khatib returned from a cross-Canada speaking tour. Khatib’s arrest sparked protests in several cities across Canada, staged by Palestinian solidarity activists.

In recent months, Israeli military forces have been carrying out nighttime raids on Bil’in village, which since 2005 has maintained weekly protests against Israel’s “security barrier,” known in Palestine as the “apartheid wall” that cuts through the village, annexing over 50 percent of Bil’in’s

Human rights organizations in Palestine, Israel and internationally speculate that the recent escalation of military violence against Bil’in villagers is directly tied to their internationally celebrated protest movement and a lawsuit here in Quebec.

Bil’in village is known throughout Canada because the small agricultural village launched a historic lawsuit against two Quebec-based corporations currently involved in constructing Israeli-only settlements on the agricultural lands of the Palestinian village.

Hearings surrounding Bil’in’s lawsuit commenced in June at the Quebec Superior Court, and Khatib, representing Bil’in’s Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, travelled to Canada to participate in the hearings.

In the coming months, an initial ruling on the Bil’in lawsuit – based on Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act – is expected to be delivered by Justice Louis-Paul Cullen.

Khatib spoke widely to the media in Montreal and toured 11 cities across Canada speaking about Bil’in’s historic lawsuit and the non-violent protests that have made Bil’in village famous internationally.

In early September, in a visit hosted by Bil’in’s Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements and in which Mohammad Khatib was central, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and retired archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa expressed their solidarity with the village.

* for more information, visit Bil’in

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