Israel: The Killing of Bassem Ibrahim Abu Rahme


Clayton Swisher, “Palestinians Mourn Demonstrator’s Death,” Al Jazeera, 18 April 2009

Clayton Swisher: Laying to rest one of their own, the village of Bil’in mourn the death of Bassem Abu Rahme, killed while protesting against Israel’s West Bank separation wall.  It divides Bil’in in two, with Palestinians on both sides and Israeli settlers not too far off.  The tragic final minutes of Bassem’s life are by now well known.  Bassem particularly stood out.  His friends affectionately called him “the Elephant” because of his imposing frame, but it was not enough to repel the long-distance teargas canister fired at his abdomen from a very close and lethal range.  Those who attend weekly demonstrations say Israel has increased the use of force against unarmed activists.  And these high-powered teargas canisters are to blame.  Mohammed Khatib knows it well.  He insisted that the doctors give him the ammunition as evidence of Israel’s brutality. . . .  In March, the Israeli military fired one against a visiting American activist.  It punctured his forehead, and he has yet to regain consciousness.  The international community calls on Palestinians to use non-violence to resolve their differences with the occupying power.  That’s nice advice, but the residents at this funeral in Bil’in understand all too well that it just does not work.  When they turn up to protest the separation barrier that divides this community, the Israeli response is clear: you may be killed.  31-year-old Frahan knew Bassem all his life, until the very end.  They went to school together, and he was with him all the way to the hospital where the doctors pronounced him dead.  He understands the risks that go with non-violent resistance, and he swears the escalation of force by Israel will not deter him.

Farhan Bernat: Soldiers of the occupation army think that by killing demonstrators they can stop these protests.  We will not stop until they return our lands.

Clayton Swisher: Israel has yet to tear down its barrier in Bil’in, even though the Israeli Supreme Court deems its route illegal.  Just as Israel’s apparent unwillingness to adhere to its own law is nothing new, so too the Palestinian resilience, which no ammunition of any size has so far broken.

Yisrael Puterman, “Shaheed Bassem’s Funeral”

Yisrael Puterman, “Demonstration in Tel Aviv after the Killing of Bassem”

The text above is a partial transcript of Clayton Swisher’s report.