On the evening of Saturday 1st April 2017, Inminds human rights group held an emergency vigil to demand freedom for four Palestinian human rights defenders – Badee Dwaik, Younes Arar, Anan Dana, and Ishaq al-Khateeb, who have been abducted by Israeli occupation forces two days ago on 30th March after planting olive trees at Wadi Alhussein, east of Hebron, on Land Day as part of the #DismantleTheGhetto campaign. The vigil was held outside the Global headquarters of the BBC in London to highlight the BBC’s institutionalised suppression of reporting of Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people, including the abduction of the four.
As part of the vigil, images were projected onto the walls of BBC Broadcasting House.
Land day commemorates the shooting dead of 6 Palestinians by Israeli forces whilst they were protesting the confiscation of Palestinian land by the occupation for settlement building.
Activists from #DismantleTheGhetto campaign were planting olive trees when they were attacked by the settlers from the nearby illegal Kiryat Arba settlement. Kiryat Arba is infamous for its devotion and shrine to the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein who massacred 29 Palestinian worshippers, some as young as 12 years old, at the Ibrahimi Mosque; and its park named after Goldstein’s mentor the terrorist Meir Kahane who wanted to ‘gas the Arabs’.
Undeterred, the activists proceeded to the Jewish-only apartheid main road, built illegally on Palestinian land, where Palestinians are not allowed to drive. The Israeli occupation forces declared the area a closed military zone and attacked the activists, arrested the four.
The four were severely beaten by the soldiers both during arrest and transportation. Five soldiers attacked Badee Dwaik, after being shackled and dragged to the jeep he was badly beaten on his back and legs in the jeep.
The four have been moved to Israel, in contravention of the 4th Geneva Convention, and imprisoned at Ashkelon prison. Their military court hearing is tomorrow on Sunday 2nd April 2017.
The attack on these human rights defenders has been ongoing, just last month soldiers raided Badee Dwaik and Adnan Dana’s homes threatening their families and young children if they continue with the #DismantleTheGhetto campaign.
Inminds chair Abbas Ali said “We salute the human rights defenders Badee Dwaik, Younes Arar, Anan Dana and Ishaq al-Khateeb for their steadfastness in challenging the illegal occupation and colonization of their land. We demand their freedom and urge the BBC to break their silence and report of this injustice. The British government, along with the rest of the world, has declared Israeli settlements illegal under international law yet the BBC is silent when Palestinians are attacked and imprisoned for protesting against these illegal settlements.. exactly whose agenda is the publicly funded BBC following?”
Badee Dwaik heads the Palestinian Human Rights Defenders group; he is the father of 6 children, the youngest of which is 8 years old.
Inminds chair Abbas Ali added “Inminds is honoured to have worked with Badee Dwaik on several campaigns, especially the ongoing Free Shireen Issawi Campaign.”
Younes Arar, from the Colonization and Wall Resistance Committee of the PLO, and Anan Dana, from the Hebron Defense Committee, are both fathers of three children. Anan Dana is a teacher by profession. Ishaq al-Khateeb is local grass-roots activist.
A message from the wife of one of the four activists, Badee Dwaik, was read out at the vigil. She asked for international support to free her husband and the other activists, pointing out that their only ‘crime’ was to plant olive tree seedlings which symbolise peace.
The protest ended with video footage filmed by Palestinian Human Rights Defenders, projected on the BBC building showing the planting of the olive trees and subsequent attack and arrests of the four activists.
Inminds chair Abbas Ali concluded by saying “The BBC refuses to broadcast news about Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, so we have done it for them.. projecting onto their walls of BBC Broadcasting House, citizen journalist video footage, which they had access to but refused to show, of Israeli soldiers attacking and abducting peaceful activists planting olive trees.”