On Friday, July 5, the International Solidarity Movement held a press conference in East Jerusalem regarding the deportation and harassment of international peace activists by the Israeli military and government. Highlights of the press conference are excerpted below:
"As a Jew I am very disturbed that I am being deported essentially for witnessing the collective punishment the Israeli army is perpetrating on the Palestinian civilians of Balata Refugee Camp.
Israel's claim to be the only democracy in the Middle East does not bear out. In a democracy a judge can rule only after reviewing and considering all the facts and circumstances and evidence. The Minister of the Interior of the State of Israel appears omnipotent and whatever that office decrees stands. How is this democratic?
Deporting peace activists makes a clear and strong statement to the world community that Israel is NOT interested in peace. I only hope that international governments will open their ears and eyes to help put a stop to the oppressive, racist and deadly conditions the Palestinian people face in their daily lives."
Darlene Wallach, USA
"To the best of our knowledge, at least 1000 people have been prevented from entering Israel since April 1st, 2002, many for carrying medical supplies or having affiliations to humanitarian organizations. Over 50 people who were able to enter Israel and Palestine to work with humanitarian organizations have been deported.
We are the first individuals faced with a deportation order, under these circumstances, who have appealed it. At no time were we informed of our rights by the Israeli police or prison authorities, and the prison attempted to prevent us from seeing our lawyer until after we had come before a judge. When I was before the judge, she attempted to tell me that I could not appeal.
We insisted on our right to appeal and succeeded in getting the case to a higher court. We will now pursue the case to the Supreme Court of Israel."
Josi Sandercock, UK
"On Monday the 1st of July Eric Levine, Brian Dominick and myself were traveling to Nablus. When we tried to enter the city we were arrested along with two Palestinian men. Our IDs, Passports, phones, films and tapes were all confiscated then we were told that the police were going to pick us up and take us to Israel.
While we were waiting for this to happen we were held outside a building captured by the Israeli military. We waited for 48 hours, the police never came and we were eventually released outside Huwara military base with no explanation of capture.
During our detention we had no protection from the heat during the day or cold at night. We were given food at arbitrary times and didn't have access to toilet. The soldiers repeatedly refused to let us phone anyone or make phone calls on our behalf, including to our Consulates.
This event has increased my personal motivation to record what is happening in the occupied West Bank."
Peter Blacker, UK
"The past year and a half has witnessed a growing phenomenon of international civilians leaving their homes to come to the Occupied Palestinian Territories to witness, assist and otherwise join and stand with the Palestinian people in their struggle against the brutality of occupation and oppression. Despite the efforts of the Israeli government to break this phenomenon and to keep shut the eyes of the world, the International Solidarity Movement calls on all peoples not to be intimidated. This summer the ISM will be welcoming hundreds of foreign civilians to the Occupied Palestinian Territories to join hands and raise voices against occupation. In the past two weeks alone we have welcomed and trained over 90 international peace activists and currently have an international presence in Nablus, Jenin, Gaza, Ramallah and Hebron (including surrounding villages).
The voices of truth, justice and love of humanity will overcome. The good people of the world, however, must not stay silent. The 1000+ international civilians that have thus far joined us (in the past few months alone) are a shining example of civilians taking the lead and acting on the basis of justice and right, when the "leaders" fail to do so."
Huwaida Arraf, INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT Organizer
To find out more about joining us in Palestine, please see www.palsolidarity.org
For questions or comments about the press conference or any of the material above, please contact Huwaida at 052-642-709 or 067-473-308.
The International Solidarity Movement is a Palestinian-led movement of Palestinian and international activists working to raise awareness of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and an end to Israeli occupation. We utilize nonviolent, direct-action methods and strategies to confront and challenge the brutal Israeli occupation forces and illegal policies. For more about us, please visit www.palsolidarity.org
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