DAMASCUS, SYRIA (7:40 A.M)-
Republished from ’21stCenturyWire.com’
The prices paid, for simply living as a Palestinian in Palestine, can be listed for days on end. But perhaps the price which is the most arduous, is the lack of security you have in knowing wether your family members, most importantly children, won’t be ambushed, tortured and locked away in a military prison.
According to the leading Palestinian Prisoners Organization, Addameer, there are currently 5640 Palestinians that are locked away in military prisons, around 300 of which are children. Those who are now locked away in Israeli Military Prisons, are not criminals. For real crimes committed by Palestinians in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has its own prison system and security forces.
Rather than site statistics and quote politicians, I believe the best way to bring this story close to heart, for you the reader, is to give you a personal account of what happened to a friend and his family.
Every Palestinian in the West Bank has stories to tell about the imprisonment of their friends, family, or even themselves. Roughly two-thirds of the West Bank’s male population has been imprisoned or detained by the Israeli occupation forces.
Despite speaking to many people in the West Bank and hearing countless horror stories of detainment or arrest, one case in particular effected me more than others.
For 3 months I lived, in the West Bank village of Bil’in, from which I would travel to countless places. During my time in Bil’in, located close to Ramallah, I spent over a month living in the Burnat household. Iyad Burnat, a prominent Palestinian activist and author of the book ‘Bil’in and the non-violent resistance’, hosted me and included me as if I was a member of the family. Staying with Iyad’s family, I became very close with his second youngest son Abdul-Khaliq, whom I stayed in contact with after leaving Palestine.
Abdul-Khaliq, was 17 years old at the time, had already been shot in the head by Israeli forces, arrested, denied medicine and grown up watching the brutality displayed against his family. His younger brother Mohammed had also already been shot by Israeli forces, with rubber-coated steel bullets, three times and his older brother Majd had sustained a near fatal bullet wound, to the upper leg, in 2014.
The night, just after having called Abdul-Khaliq, the catch up with him, I received news of his brutal arrest by armed Israeli Occupation militants. He was ambushed, along with his two friends Malik Radhi and Hamze Al-Khatib, whilst they were on their way to get pizza from a neighboring village. The three were brutally snatched away, having their hands bound and eyes blindfolded. They were then later held in administrative detention for 6 months (held without a charge), before they were convicted for the “crimes” of cutting barbed wire attached to the apartheid wall and throwing stones. Despite the fact that the Israeli’s had no eye-witness testimonies, no videos, no photographs, or any other such evidence, the three boys were facing a kangaroo court system which maintaining a 99.74% conviction rate.
Although the three boys were originally sentenced to 19 months in Naqve Military prison, they were given the opportunity to get out early on bail, due to the work of their lawyer Gaby Lasky. If the families of all three are able to pay the bail fee of 18,000 NIS (Approx. 5,100 USD) each, then they will be released on probation. However, such heavy fees like these, are nearly impossible to pay for families and even communities in the West Bank.
This is just a single example of what families face. Just last morning (29/10/18) 30 more Palestinians were taken from their homes.
The only way to relative freedom for people like Abdul-Khaliq, Malik and Hamze, are for their families to pay the bail fees. Until this moment, enough has been raised to unshackle but only two of the three boys, with around 5,000 USD needed to enable the release of the third.
If you would like to personally take part in the effort to free these boys, please contact Iyad Burnat at either of the links below. Your help in fighting the battle for the freedom of Bil’in’s youth, is appreciated by the families of those held captive.
Email: [email protected]