Case History: Mohammed Khatib
On 6 June 2017, Ofer Military Court dropped the charge of disturbing the soldiers and convicted him to 6 months in prison for participating in an illegal demonstration and entering a closed military zone. The Court suspended the sentence for one year. Mohammed Khatib's lawyer appealed this verdict.
Mohammed Khatib is a Palestinian lawyer and board member of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC), which facilitates communication between and helps to strengthen the different popular committees in villages known for their struggle against the separation wall, also known as “apartheid wall”. The construction of the wall was found by the International Court of Justice to be a violation of international law.
On 7 May 2017, human rights defender, Mohammed Khatib, will appear before an Israeli Military Court after three and half years of lengthy court proceedings following his participation in peaceful demonstrations at Beit Il checkpoint, in the village of Bettin, on 7 March 2013. The human rights defender is facing three charges of entering a closed military zone, participating in an illegal demonstration, and disturbing the soldiers.
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The upcoming military trial of the human rights defender will take place on 7 May 2017 in Ofer military court. According to Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations, the conviction rate of Israeli military courts has ranged from ninety to ninety-nine percent in recent years.
Mohammed Khatib has previously been arrested and detained by Israeli forces on several occasions on account of his participation in peaceful demonstrations. On 20 January 2017, Israeli forces arrested Mohammed Khatib while he attended his colleagues’ military hearing for participation in a peaceful demonstration. He was held in Ofer prison for four days and was also accused of participating in an “illegal protest” against Israel’s illegal annexation of Palestinian land in Jerusalem. In 2014, he was detained for participating in a tree-planting project in Turmusaya. All these charges against the human rights defender are still pending and he is expected to have to stand trial for them in the future.
Front Line Defenders condemns the continued judicial harassment of human rights defender, Mohammed Khatib, as it believes it to be solely related to his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Front Line Defenders further condemns the pattern of intimidation, harassment and prosecution of human rights defenders by the Israeli occupation forces.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Israel to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Mohammed Khatib as Front Line Defenders believes that they are solely the result of his legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory;
2. Urges the authorities to stop the judicial harassment of human rights defenders, including through military courts;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.
On 16 November 2015, human rights defender Mr Mohammed Khatib was released from Ofer Prison on bail of 5000 shekel on the condition that he appears in court in February 2016.
Mohammed Khatib faces charges on account of his participation in a peaceful protest in Bil'in village on 13 November 2015 against the separation wall build by Israel in the West Bank.
Israeli Occupation Forces arrested the human rights defender following the protest and detained him at Ni'iln police station. He was accused of “entering a closed military zone”, “attacking and disturbing soldiers” and “participating in an unlicensed demonstration”. He was subsequently transferred to Ofer Prison.
Mohammed Khatib had been arrested and detained in 2013 on account of participation in another peaceful demonstration against the wall and faced charges similar to the ones currently against him. In 2014 he was detained on the basis of participating in a tree planting project in Turmusaya that was started by Palestinian Authority minister Ziad Abu Ein, who was subsequently killed by Israeli soldiers in December 2014. The previous charges against the human rights defender are still pending.
On 6 February 2014, at approximately 1:30am, Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and Border Police forcibly evicted the entire Palestinian village of Ein-Hijleh and declared the village a closed military zone.
During the eviction 19 people, including human rights defenders, journalists and representatives of committees and youth movements, were temporarily detained whilst at least 32 villagers were injured. Several of the 19 detained were also subject to physical aggression.
Amongst the nineteen detained were human rights defenders Messrs Issa Amro, Mahmoud Zawhara, Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, Bassem Tamimi and Mohammad Al Khatib, and human rights journalists Mss Diana Alzeer, Ashira Ramadan and Lema Nazeeh. All nineteen represent committees or youth movements from all over Palestine.
During the forced displacement on 6 February 2014, it is reported that the members of the IDF numbered in the hundreds. Diana Alzeer, Ashira Ramadan and Lema Nazeeh were amongst many subjected to aggression and force, including beatings, being pushed to the ground and pushed in the direction of fire. The human rights defenders were detained and held at the entrance of the village of Areeha, and later released once the eviction had been completed. At least 32 villagers were treated for injuries at Jericho hospital. The IDF also reportedly attacked journalists and medical teams in the village at the time of eviction, including a cameraman from Palestine TV.
The forced displacement follows a series of raids and attacks which have targeted the local community as well as human rights defenders who peacefully opposed the eviction. The campaign began on 31 January 2014, when the IDF blocked access to the village and prevented the delivery of water and food supplies. On 3 February 2014, the IDF attempted to gain entry to the village. On 4 February 2014 a renewed attempt to enter the village included the use of tear gas against peaceful protesters, but was hindered by locals forming a human chain. Several villagers, as well as Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, sustained injuries and were taken to hospital in Jericho.