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Vancouver, May 10, 2003
ISRAELI ARMY DECLARES WAR ON INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS WORKERS
The Israeli military has raided the media office of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and kidnapped six international human rights volunteers to prevent the world from knowing about it's war crimes in Occupied Palestine.
VANCOUVER - On Friday, May 9, approximately 20 Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) military vehicles, army jeeps and a large armored personnel carrier surrounded the ISM media office in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem in Occupied Palestine.
Dozens of soldiers, border police and civilian police officers raided the ISM office, confiscating all computers in the ISM office and in the nearby office of the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement. Files, CDs, and photos were all pillaged, while soldiers broke equipment and severely damaged the office.
Israeli forces also kidnapped three women: Palestinian volunteer, Fida, American volunteer, Flo, and a worker with Human Rights Watch who was visiting the office. The Israeli government has stated it will deport the international volunteers.
Today, Saturday May 10, IOF soldiers kidnapped two more female international volunteers - Radika, a US citizen, Charlotte, a UK citizen - and Osama, a Palestinian coordinator in Tulkarm. The internationals were taken to the police station at Ariel settlement and Osama is believed to be in Qedumim prison. Radhika reportedly told the Israeli human rights group Gush Shalom by phone that they were beaten by police. These illegal detentions happened in the context of a renewed invasion of this West Bank city, where one month ago the IOF rounded up every Palestinian male between the ages of 15 and 45.
On Thursday evening, May 8, 2003, the Israeli army kidnapped two British nationals, one of whom is Jewish, at a military checkpoint on the border of the Gaza strip. Both were illegally detained at the crossing with no arrest and no charges for more than 28 hours. The IOF has announced that it will attempt to forcibly deport them.
For the past week, international visitors to the Gaza Strip, including accredited media and UN workers, have been experiencing abnormally long waits of up to 7 hours. In addition, all visitors entering the Gaza Strip are now required to sign a document stating they are not involved with ISM and waiving the IOF's responsibility for their physical safety. An Amnesty International delegation was denied entry to the Gaza Strip when they refused to sign the illegal document. These new draconian procedures have drawn an official protest from the UK government.
The Israeli government has declared an open war on international peace and human rights workers and journalists in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It is an escalation of a continuing campaign to prevent the international community from hearing about the brutality of daily Israeli military actions against the Palestinian people.
In the last two months, the Israeli soldiers have crushed and killed one international peace activist with a bulldozer and shot two others in the head, one of who remains in a coma. Two international journalists have also been shot and killed by the IOF in the last month.
On April 16, Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Lt. General Moshe Yaalon announced that he had given the order to "take the ISM out" because they "injure [the] freedom of action" of his troops. The ISM, however, has stated it has no plans to leave the Palestinian areas nor to reduce their actions or our efforts.
ISM-Vancouver denounces these shocking and illegal attempts by the Israeli army to silence human rights workers in the Occupied Territories and calls on the international community to protest to the Israeli government. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have already protested the Israeli army's recent actions.
Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led movement of Palestinian
and International activists who utilize nonviolent direct action
to support the Palestinian struggle for freedom and an end to Israeli
ISM-Vancouver activists have recently returned from the war zone
in Palestine and are available for interviews in person or by phone.
more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Gordon, ISM-Vancouver spokesperson, at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Reem, Coordinator of ISM-Vancouver, at email@example.com.