Israel Releases Prominent Palestinian Activist Jailed Over West Bank Protests

Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, who led demonstrations in the village of Bil'in that often turned violent, was convicted last year of incitement and weapons possession.

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Israel released Monday a prominent Palestinian activist, who served 16 months in prison for his role in often violent demonstrations against Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank.

Abdullah Abu Rahmeh was convicted last year of incitement and weapons possession. He was to be released in November, but prosecutors appealed for an extension, saying the original sentence was not long enough.

A Palestinian protester hurling a tear gas container back at Israeli troops during demonstrations near Bil'in on December 31, 2010.Credit: AP

Abu Rahmeh led weekly protests in the Palestinian village of Bil'in that often turned violent, with protesters throwing rocks and fire bombs at soldiers. In his role as coordinator for the Bil'in Popular Committee Against the Wall, Abu Rahmeh led marches from the Palestinian village to the nearby fence that cuts off 60 percent of the residents' land.

The village of Bil'in has become the symbol of the struggle against the separation fence, serving as the site of dozens of joint Palestinian-Israeli demonstrations in recent years.

Israel says the fence is crucial to keep out attackers. Palestinians call it a land grab as it juts into large chunks of the West Bank which they claim as part of a future state.

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