Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bil'in: under the iron heel

Emad filming an Israeli incursion from the vantage of an olive tree.

One night last week, in the early hours of the morning, my friend Emad Bornat was kidnapped from his house in the village of Bil'in, blindfolded, handcuffed and dragged for a kilometre to a waiting Israeli army jeep. He joins other villagers (25 in the past week alone) who have been imprisoned without trial and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques.

Bil'in has had over 60% of its arable lands stolen for incorporation into nearby Jewish settlements/colonies. Frustrated at four years of popular resistance by the villagers (supported by Israelis of conscience and international human rights workers) the Israeli Occupation Force has intensified its repression. While continuing to respond to the regular Friday demonstrations with disproportionate force - including the use of live ammuntion against peaceful protesters - storm troopers regularly invade the village at night, terrorising the population and kidnapping leaders of the resistance. So far, their attempts to crush the spirit of Bil'in has failed.

Fears are held for the safety and well-being of Emad. He suffered a life-threatening injury several months ago and requires access to medication. Conditions in Israeli jails are harsh for Palestinian prisoners: humiliating conditions, medical neglect and, indeed, torture have been regularly documented. While Western governments (including our own) remain indifferent to Palestinian suffering, people like my friend Emad will struggle to endure under the iron heel of a brutal Israeli occupation.