On Tuesday, January 5, I attended the trial of my husband Abdallah Abu Rahmah in an Israeli military detention camp. Ofer Military Base is a dark and dehumanizing place, but I was happy to go there because it meant that I would finally see my husband.
I joined my friend Fatima, wife of Adib Abu Rahmah in the crowd of families waiting outside the gates of the base hoping to be admitted. Fatima's husband is another committed nonviolent activist from Bil'in who, like my husband, is being accused of incitement, that is, of encouraging demonstrations against the Wall. Adib and Fatima have nine children. He has been in detention for over six months now.
Diplomats from the US, Germany, Sweden and Spain who know Abdallah also came to support him.
Just one month ago these diplomats had visited Abdullah in Bil'in and had seen for themselves how Israeli settlements and the Apartheid Wall have stolen over 50% of our village's land. They promised then that they would do what they could to help our popular struggle and here they were, true to their word. The Spanish consul who represents the new president of the European union tried to shake Abdullah's hand but the soldiers wouldn't let him.
We spent most of the day waiting. Finally, When we where allowed into the room they call a "military court" my husband was brought in by the soldiers shackled with chains on his arms and legs. We were not allowed to speak to each other, but he told me everything I needed to know just by looking at me. When I came home I slept well, without bolting awake in terror, for the first time since my husband was taken from our home on December 10th. Abdullah has visibly lost weight but his eyes still smiled when he looked at me.
Abdullah is a school teacher and a farmer from Bilin, our village in the occupied West Bank. He is also the coordinator of our village's popular committee against the wall and settlements.
This letter was conveyed from my husband's prison cell by his lawyers:
January 1, 2010
To all our friends,
I mark the beginning of the new decade imprisoned in a military detention camp. Nevertheless, from within the Occupation′s holding cell I greet the New Year with determination and hope.
I know that Israel's military campaign to imprison the leadership of the Palestinian popular struggle shows that our non-violent struggle is effective. The occupation is threatened by our growing movement and is therefore trying to shut us down. What Israel's leaders do not understand is that popular struggle cannot be stopped by our imprisonment.
Whether we are confined in the open-air prison that Gaza has been transformed into, in military prisons in the West Bank, or in our own villages surrounded by the Apartheid Wall, arrests and persecution do not weaken us. They only strengthen our commitment to turning 2010 into a year of liberation through unarmed grassroots resistance to the Occupation.
The price I and many others pay in freedom does not deter us. I wish that my two young daughters and baby son would not have to pay this price together with me. But for my son and daughters, for their future, we must continue our struggle for freedom.
This year, the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee will expand on the achievements of 2009, a year in which you amplified our popular demonstrations in Palestine with international boycott campaigns and international legal actions under universal jurisdiction.
In my village, Bil'in, Israeli tycoon, Lev Leviev and Africa-Israel, the corporation he controls, are implicated in illegal construction of settlements on our stolen land, as well as the lands of many other Palestinian villages and cities. Adalah-N is leading an international campaign to show Leviev that war crimes have their price.
Our village has sued two Canadian companies for their role in the construction and marketing of new settlement units on village land cut off by Israel's Apartheid Wall. The legal proceedings in this precedent-setting case began in the Canadian courts last summer and are ongoing.
Bil'in has become the graveyard of Israeli real estate empires. One after another, these companies are approaching bankruptcy as the costs of building on stolen Palestinian land are driven higher than the profits.
Unlike Israel, we have no nuclear weapons or army, but we do not need them. The justness of our cause earns us your support. No army, no prison and no wall can stop us.
Abdallah Abu Rahmah
From the Ofer Military Detention Camp