Palestinian Activist Must Be Jailed to Keep Him Away From 'Bacterial Surroundings,' IDF Prosecutor Says

Israeli army prosecutor appeals release on bail of Bil'in's Abdullah Abu Rahma, arrested while trying to reach his village's lands that lie beyond the separation barrier.

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Palestinian demonstrator sits on top of an Israeli army vehicle during a protest marking the 11th anniversary of their campaign against Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016.
Palestinian demonstrator sits on top of an Israeli army vehicle during a protest marking the 11th anniversary of their campaign against the separation barrier, in Bilin.Credit: AP
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

An Israeli military prosecutor asked an army tribunal to reincarcerate a prominent Palestinian activist in order to distance him from his "bacterial surroundings." 

The unusual remark was made at an army court about two weeks ago, during a hearing regarding an appeal against the release on bail of Abdullah Abu Rahma, the leader of the Bil'in village's struggle against Israel's West Bank wall. 

The village's fight against the wall, which bars access to some of its land, was popularized in the Israeli-Palestinian co-production Five Broken Cameras.

Abu Rahma was arrested in May, at a bicycle protest by villagers during which they tried to reach their land beyond the wall. At his first court hearing, a judge rejected officers' claims that Abu Rahma resisted arrest after viewing footage that purported to show that the officers had started beating the activist without any provocation on his part.

However, evidence was produced that allegedly shows that Abu Rahma refused to comply with the officers' order for the protest to disperse, and an indictment was filed against him for obstructing a police officer. 

In the June 1 hearing, military prosecutor Vital Hausman appealed Abu Rahma's release. claiming that he had to be kept behind bars  to keep him away from his "bacterial surroundings."

The chief military prosecutor in the West Bank was in the courtroom when Hausman spoke, but made no comment about the unusual remark. 

The judge rejected the prosecutor's appeal, ruling that Abu Rahma isn't dangerous enough to warrant being held in custody through the end of his trial.

"It would be better if the representatives of both sides keep their composure and be careful in their wordings and style," the judge said. 

Abu Rahma's attorney, Gaby Lasky, told Haaretz that "anyone who refers to an non-violent sporting event as 'bacterial surroundings' isn't treating the Palestinians as human beings and cannot hold a position as a prosecutor seeking justice."

Following a Haaretz inquiry, the IDF said the prosecutor's commander made it clear to him that such statements are unacceptable.