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Israel military court jails Palestinian activist for bike protest in his village

Palestinian human rights defender Abdullah Abu Rahma in the West Bank city of Ramallah on 23 February 2015 [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images]
Palestinian human rights defender Abdullah Abu Rahma in the West Bank city of Ramallah on 23 February 2015 [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images]

An Israeli military court sentenced Palestinian human rights defender Abdullah Abu Rahma to four months in prison yesterday “for two charges stemming from a bicycle race to mark Nakba Day in 2016”, reported +972 Magazine.

Abu Rahma, “one of the most well-known leaders of the popular struggle against the separation wall”, was convicted of violating a closed military zone order and obstructing a soldier during a race in May 2016 in his home village Bil’in.

“Hundreds of Palestinian and international cyclists participated in the so-called ‘return ride’, which kicked off in Ramallah and ended in the West Bank village,” the report explained. However, Israeli occupation forces “raided the village before the race even began”, arresting Abu Rahma.

Yesterday, an Israeli military judge “agreed to let Abu Rahma begin serving his sentence in mid-December, so as to give the defence time to appeal both the sentence and conviction.”

The judge also “applied part of a suspended sentence from another, earlier conviction for participating in another protest a year earlier.”

Read: Israel arrests Fatah official in Jerusalem

“The suspended sentence was triggered by the current conviction. Abu Rahma will serve a total of 110 days in an Israeli military prison,” +972 Magazine added.

“Abdullah is a human rights defender,” said Gaby Lasky, his attorney following the sentencing.

He non-violently opposes the occupation — that’s what makes him such an important target. As long as he is in prison, he cannot be out in the field.

“These punishments for ongoing nonviolent resistance indicate that the military court is not a court of justice; its sole purpose is to maintain the occupation and to prevent any resistance to it,” she added.

“I feel angry and sad about the decision,” Abu Rahma said at the end of the hearing. “This is not a real court — it is a political court.”

“I will pay the price, but this punishment will encourage me to continue supporting the people wherever they may be — that is my duty as a Palestinian, until the occupation is gone.”

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