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“Only democracy in Mideast”: Israel exterminates inner Arab opposition

13. September 2007

Abnaa elBalad condemns the Comrade Mohammad Khalaf injustly sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment

Tel Aviv, 11/9/2007 – A panel of 3 judges of the Tel Aviv District Court sentenced today comrade Mohammad Khalaf -Abu-Tahreer, (a 56 years old member of “Abnaa elBalad” movement, carpenter & a grandfather & father of 4 children, the youngest of them 10 years old) to 12 years of imprisonment and 3 years suspended incarceration.

The state prosecution had requested a sentence “much longer than 10 years” for the charge of “contact with a foreign agent” (namely, wael Zakleh from the west bank, who was employed by our comrade as a worker in his carpentry) and “assisting the enemy at time of war” “making a service to terrorist organization” (allegedly buying for Zakleh fertilizers that can be used also to make explosives) & “holding unlawfully firearms”… It’s important to note that comrade Mohammad Khalaf was convicted according to a testimony of one witness (!) – Wael Zakleh himself – who gave his testimony during the GSS (General Security Service) interrogation & withdraw from it later at court… The fact that the “assistant” got longer sentence that the “main actor” was explained by the court by the fact that Khalaf is an “Israeli citizen” and the court should “teach” the Arabs that have Israeli citizenship not to join Israel’s enemies (e.g. the Palestinian resistance).

Another reason for the harsh sentence was the fact that comrade Mohammad Khalaf refused to enter a plea deal, and plead constantly “not guilty”, refusing to “confess” for acts he didn’t participated in. He also refused to “take responsibility” or “regret” for the acts that he didn’t do…

The environment in the court was very hostile, the court guards prevented the family & friends to speak with Mohammad before the judges entered, and when his 10 years old son, who missed hugging his father for almost 2 years stepped nearby, he was stopped by 2 guards that jumped at the boy (the scared boy refused later to stay in the court room, and preferred to wait outside).

when the sentence was read, the shocked family & friends began to shout that there is no justice in the racist Israeli courts… comrade Mohammad Khalaf raised up and announced that all the charges against him are false, that he was framed by the GSS that look for revenge for his political stands & activity, and that the struggle that he participate in, since he was a youth and until the recent days is a political & mass struggle and not an armed one. He added that the Israeli court system reacts as a puppet of the GSS, that the GSS from his side is writing the files and also the verdicts, and that the state terror, the repression and incarceration will not force him astray from his chosen path of struggle.

In a press release which was issued immediately after the court’s decision, Suheil Sleiby, the deputy general secretary of Abnaa elBalad movement strongly condemns the decision and sees in it a great injustice. He continued: “This sentence is part of the persecution & repression against the Arab Palestinian masses inside the 1948 occupied territories and its patriotic forces in general and specially against Abnaa elBalad movement. The use of false “confession” that was given in the GSS dark dungeons, by interrogation methods that are internationally rejected and forbidden are not new to us. We are aware very well to the praxis of framing patriotic activists with different “terror” charges, our movement has lot of experience in this kind of trials, and one example is our general secretary, comrade Mohammad Kana’aneh, which is incarcerated since February 2004.