Actually, Burnat got off lightly. Advocacy on behalf of the unarmed protest movement in the West Bank (termed “Popular Terror” by the IDF) is a crime punishable by incarceration. Here are a few recent examples:
- July 2009: Mohammad Srur, a Naalin activist, arrested after testifying before Goldstone commission.
- September 2009: Head of Bilin Popular Committee Abdallah Abu Rahma indicted for displaying spent ammunition casings used by IDF against village demonstrators.
- January 2010: Bilin councilman, Mohamad Khatib, arrested following Ynet interview in which he predicted a new Intifada.
Shabak bars protester from Bil’in from traveling to conferences in Europe
Iyad Burnat wanted to cross the Allenby Bridge to travel to conferences in Switzerland and Italy. He waited at the crossing for three hours until he was told: “You’re going back”
Amira Hass, Haaretz Online, May 1 2010 [Hebrew edition only, original here]Arrest of Iyad Burnat in Bilin
Burnat, 37, married and the father of three sons and a daughter, came to the bridge this morning with his four-year-old daughter. The border crossing to Jordan is under full Israeli control and Palestinians are allowed to cross only with Shabak permission. The officer at passport control instructed him to sit and wait right after he entered his personal information on the computer.
Burnat told Haaretz that three hours later an Israeli wearing civilian clothes, who did not identify himself or his office, appeared and said: “You’re going back.” Burnat asked other Israelis stationed at the border crossing why he was prevented from crossing and he was told these were Shabak orders and that the reason is “security.” He asked to meet the Shabak officer at the crossing but was refused.
One of the conferences in which Burnat was supposed to participate was organized by the mayor of Geneva Rémy Pagani and its subject is the Geneva conventions.
The popular struggle activists believe the prevention of travel is one of the measures taken by the security authorities to suppress their movement. The measures include mass arrests, raids on houses, declaring villages as closed military areas and holding leading activists in custody for months. All this is beside the massive force used to disperse demonstrations.
Burnat was arrested and tried for his activity in the first intifada and jailed for two years. In the five years of fighting against the separation fence he has been arrested a few times at home after demonstrations but he was never indicted or tried. The last time Burnat traveled abroad was in April 2009.
In the weekly report of his activities that he distributes by e-mail, Burnat wrote about the demonstrations that took place in Bil’in yesterday, with the participation of Palestinian trade union activists in honor of May 1.
The Shabak today (Saturday) barred a resident of Bil’in, active in the struggle against building the separation fence in the village, from crossing Allenby Bridge to travel to conferences in Switzerland and Italy. Iyad Burnat was supposed to speak at the conferences about the popular struggle against the separation fence.