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Thursday April 8, 2010 10:48 AM (EST+7)

RAMALLAH, April 8 (JMCC) – Imprisoned not far from his home of Bilin, Abdullah Abu Rahme closely follows events, trying to understand what is happening in the anti-Wall demonstrations held by his small village west of Ramallah.

He is indifferent, he says, to the “charges being woven” against him by Israel as it “engages in a blatant war against anti-Wall and nonviolent resistance activists.”

From his prison cell, with no more than five minutes to speak, Abu Rahme tries to convey to the suffering of Palestinian prisoners, “Nobody is concerned or cares about them.”

“We are really suffering here, the situation is bad. We rarely get to use the phone. The food is bad, the cold is bitter. It is hell.” He adds, “Despite all that, we try to adapt to conditions in hopes of seeing freedom and working for our country.”

Abu Rahme was arrested four months ago in an Israeli special forces operation in Ramallah. At first, the charges against him were numerous, then they gradually began falling by the wayside.

“They are looking beyond the sun for charges against me. They know I’m not guilty of anything, and they can’t do anything against me but the message is clear – [this is] a war against anti-Wall activists, against the nonviolent demonstrators opposed to settlement expansion and land theft.”

When he was first arrested, Abu Rahme says he was charged with possession of weapons and trying to kill soldiers, but he ridiculed the officers making the charges.

Abu Rahme has been taken to court several times, but every appearance was postponed for the questioning of witnesses -- people he says were coerced into testifying against him.

Some were children who said he incited them to throw stones. Abu Rahme mocks the accusations.

“They know I’m at every anti-Wall demonstration. Everyone knows the innovations we came up with in Bilin to attract the world’s attention to what is happening on our land.”

Demonstrators in Bilin have dressed up as indigenous characters from the blockbuster film “Avatar” and important proponents of non-violence such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King in the now-weekly demonstrations against the Wall.

“I don’t understand their reasoning,” Abu Rahme continues. “They consider stone throwing a crime, while shooting unarmed demonstrators, like Bassem Abu Rahme, is not a crime.”

Bassem Abu  Rahme, Abdullah’s cousin, was killed last year when he was shot in the chest with a tear gas canister at very close range. Bilin recently commemorated his memory, as well as the fourth anniversary of its popular campaign against the Wall.

Construction of the Wall, a series of fences, cement walls, guard towers and patrol roads that Israel is constructing in the West Bank, has consumed over half of the village’s 7,000 dunams. Israeli courts have ruled a change in the Wall’s path that will return half of the confiscated lands, but the alteration has yet to be completed.

The JMCC’s phone connection with Abu Rahme, who was speaking secretly, was eventually lost, but not before he asserts that Israel’s attempts to end the popular struggle will fail.

“I don’t know what they have in store for me, but I’m sure I will get out and again be a Palestinian activist for retrieving our stolen lands and struggling against a Wall that is destroying our children’s hopes of living on our country’s soil.”

In the last two seconds, he adds, “I urge the world’s peace activists to pressure Israel to release the prisoners by all means.”

“I don’t mean myself, but all prisoners. They are like the clinically dead -- no one can tolerate this hell.”






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