A military court sentenced a main organizer of ongoing violent weekly riots at Bil'in to 12 months in jail Monday, half of the sentence that the prosecution requested.
The military court at Ofer, slightly northwest of Jerusalem, had found Abdullah Abu Rahma guilty of organizing the demonstrations. It sentenced him to 12 months' in jail, where he already has served 10 months. The Military Prosecution, which hoped the court would mete a sentence of more than two years, may appeal the decision. Abu Rahma was also fined $1,250.
The court reportedly chose to be lenient with Abu Rahma because the High Court has ruled in favor of the residents of Bil'in with regard to the route of the security barrier near them.
Abu Rahma was arrested in December 2009 for organizing the weekly riots at Bil'in, which are supposedly in protest of the route of the anti-suicide bomber security fence that passes by the village. He was convicted in August of incitement and organizing of illegal demonstrations but was acquitted of charges of rock-throwing..
The riots at Bil'in – and nearby Na'alin – are billed by the Left as non-violent but are, in fact, extremely violent. Since they began in 2005, the weekly riots have caused the death of a Border Guard policeman who lost his step and fell to his death while trying to catch rock-throwers, as well as causing an IDF soldier to lose his eye and another Border Guard policemen to suffer a serious eye injury.
Amit Barak of the grassroots neo-Zionist group Im Tirtzu told Arutz Sheva that the rioters at Bil'in and Na'alin usually divide the labor among themselves. “The Arabs run wild, the foreign activists come into contact with the soldiers and the Israeli leftists incite,” he explained.
Two years ago, Im Tirtzu's volunteers began visiting Bil'in and Na'alin on Fridays – the days of rioting – to express their support for IDF soldiers and hand out drinks and food. They also brought Knesset members to the site. As a possible result of these actions, Barak said, the army began to bring more force to bear on the rioters, blocking them before they could reach the fence and carrying out preventive arrests.
Barak said that while the sentencing of Abu Rahma was welcome, it is also important that the Minister for Public Security and the Defense Minister issue orders of administrative detention against the heads of the anarchist groups that operate at the riot sites and deport the foreign activists. “All they have to do is catch them,” he noted, “and it is just a 15-minute drive to Ben Gurion Airport.”