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Bil'in popular committee appeal highlights cost of struggle

July 28, 2010 9:45 P.M. (Updated: July 29, 2010 2:38 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - An Israeli court judge agreed to release a Bil'in resident and son of a local activist leader from detention, with the condition of 10,000 shekels ($2,600 US) in bail, members of the village popular committee reported.

The popular committee in Bil'in issued an appeal on Wednesday, a document that illustrated the difficulties faced by the village and the impact of the long-term struggle against the wall.

The 17-year-old Ahmad Burnat, son of Waheeh Burnat who featured prominently in the 2006 documentary Bil'in Habibti, was taken from his home on 19 July. In its appeal for funds to release the young man on bail, the popular committee detailed the life of the Burnat family and its involvement in the popular protest movement.

By struggling against the construction of the wall, the popular committee said, "Ahmad's family cannot afford the money to pay Ahmad's bail."

In 2000, in the thick of the Second Intifada, Ahmad's eldest brother, Rani, was paralyzed from the neck down after being shot in the neck by a sniper during a demonstration. Following the injury, the popular committee said, "Israel also revoked Ahmad's father's work permit."

In 2002 when Israel began construction of the separation wall, the family lost its agricultural lands, which had provided food for the Burnat's and provided a buffer for survival after Waheeh lost his job in Israel.

Another of Ahmad's brothers, Ibrahim Burnat, was arrested in January 2010, and the family had to put up bail for his release for a trial that continues.

Arrests targeting community and protest leaders, and then their families, the committee said, are "a threat to our ability to sustain this new vital wave of grassroots resistance. Lawyers fees, bails and prisoner support are an obstacle that we will be able to overcome, but to do so, we need your support today more than we have ever needed it before."
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