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Leaders of Abnaa el Ballad arrested

1. August 2003

An eyewitness recounts, August 1, 2003

Four leading members of the Abnaa el Ballad (“Sons of the Country”) movement, including its general secretary Muhamad Kanaane, Jameel Safouri, Yusuf Abu Ali and Yoav Bar, were arrested today in the morning in the summer camp the movement has in the town of Kaool. They were accused in “incitement for terrorist actions & revolt and identification with a terrorist organization – Hizbullah”. The court of Akka has prolonged their detention until Monday, 4/8/2003.

Abnaa el Ballad has conducted a summer camp for 16 years; this year it was held in the northern town of Kabul, in the Galilee, where more than 300 hundred children and youth assisted. Coincidentally with the summer camp, a political meeting was held yesterday, where Jewish and Arab members of the movement and other left activists, participated in order to promote common activities between the Palestinians and Jews against the national and social oppression of the Zionist Apartheid regime.

Wednesday, the Israeli television Channel 10 released a blood libel about the summer camp, arguing that the organizers teach the children to be suicide bombers and act as apologists for Hamas. Thursday and Friday editions of all Hebrew daily papers and other mass media means also presented a similarly vicious slander. Later in the day the police arrested some of the leading comrades of Abnaa el Ballad.

On Thursday afternoon (around 6 pm) police forces including the special anti riot forces surrounded the summer camp, and began to detain all the adults, including visitors. They detained 20 people, including the brother of the Channel 10 TV reporter, who came to the summer camp with his brother. They took all those detainees to the nearby police station (including 2 volunteers that were dragged from between the children chained into the police car) and accused all them for incitement to terrorist actions and revolt. But at midnight, after 4 hours of interrogation, all those “dangerous” detainees were released, because all those accusations are faked and are lies.

Meanwhile, in the summer camp there were not more than 3 adults who tried to fix buses to send the children home and to deal with hundreds of panicked children (3 of them fainted, and other cried and shivered with all their bodies when they sow the anti riot unit hanging around their tents…). So most of the work with the children was done by dozen youths who should care for the smaller children.

Those four that were arrested earlier stayed in detention, and the court today prolonged their arrest for another four days.

The police and the security services have been carrying on a campaign against Abnaa el Ballad for years, especially after the demonstrations held in October 2000, when 13 Arab demonstrators were killed by the police. This is another step in the persecution of the Arab population in Israel and its political parties. Let us just recall that the leaders of the Islamic movement, a legal political organization, have been imprisoned for several weeks already, and that today the Knesset is debating a racist law denying the Israeli citizenship to the sons of couples where one of the partners is an Israeli Arab and the other a Palestinian from the Occupied Territories.


August 4, 2003:
“Abnaa Al Balad” leaders were released today from prison to domicile confinement till Thursday, August 7.