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Israeli occupation arrests Palestinian activist over West Bank protest

AFP , Saturday 14 May 2016
A masked protester
A masked protester holds a Palestinian flag during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest ahead of Nakba day, in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah May 13, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS)

Israeli occupation authorities has arrested a prominent Palestinian activist and sent him to a military prison for "interfering" with the work of the army in the occupied West Bank, his family said Saturday.

Abdullah Abu Rahma has had several run-ins with the army and has spent time in jail in the past for organising weekly demonstrations against Israel's separation barrier in the village of Bilin.

The activist, who has organised the protests for the past 11 years, was arrested again on Friday, said his brother Rateb Abu Rahma.

He was moved to the Ofer military prison in the West Bank on Saturday and told his lawyer he had been accused of "interfering with the work of the army in a closed military zone," he added.

In February, an Israeli court handed Abu Rahma a four-month suspended sentence on similar charges. He was also arrested and jailed for 15 months in 2009 for coordinating the Bilin protests.

Over the years foreign and Israeli demonstrators have joined Palestinians staging weekly protests in Bilin.

Rateb Abu Rahma said that Israeli activists were arrested alongside his brother on Friday. Contacted by AFP, the Israeli army declined to comment.

Israeli occupation authorities began building what they call their "security fence" in 2002 after a wave of Palestinian attacks.

The Palestinians see it as a land grab aimed at stealing part of their future state, referring to it as the "apartheid wall".

In a non-binding decision, the International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that construction of the barrier was illegal and, like the UN General Assembly, demanded it be dismantled.

The current wave of protests by Palestinians and repression by Israeli occupation forces started in late July when toddler Ali Dawabsha was burned to death and three other Palestinians were severely injured after their house in the occupied West Bank was set on fire by Israeli settlers.

Settlement-building, racial discrimination, confiscation of identity cards, long queues at checkpoints, as well as daily clashes and the desecration of Al-Aqsa mosque, describe Palestinians' daily suffering.

The anger of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem has increased in the last three years after the Israeli authorities allowed increasing numbers of Jewish settlers to storm the Al-Aqsa mosque.

The surge in violence has been fuelled by Palestinians' frustration over Israel's 48-year occupation of land they seek for an independent state, and the expansion of settlements in those territories which were captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

Palestinian leaders say a younger generation sees no hope for the future living under Israeli security restrictions and with a stifled economy. The latest round of U.S.-brokered peace talks collapsed in April 2014.

*The story has been edited by Ahram Online.

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