Salfit, Occupied Palestine – Two educational institutions were attacked with tear gas and stun grenades by the Israeli army yesterday morning in Salfit. At least ten female students required medical attention after suffering from excessive tear gas inhalation.
At 12:30 yesterday afternoon, Salfit’s female elementary school was empty. Only a few staff remained, attempting to clean the walls after Israeli soldiers threw tear gas and stun grenades in an attack earlier in the morning. According to the headmistress of the school, the attack took place at approximately 9:30 am. At this time, the classrooms were full of female students between the ages of six and 12-years-old. The soldiers shot the tear gas from the street and it landed in the playground, school corridors and on the roof, with the tear gas itself drifting into the classrooms.
Staff from the school reported that ten young students required medical attention on site; two of them temporarily lost consciousness due to the inhalation of tear gas. When the headmistress was reassured that the Israeli army had left Salfit, at approximately 11:30 am, she began evacuating the girls. Both the school psychologist and headmistress agree that the girls were in shock, many of them crying when the attack began and after were afraid of leaving the school by themselves. The girls were planning for tomorrows’ Childrens’ Day celebration, which has been delayed until next Thursday because of the attack. The school psychologist expects that at least half of the students will not attend the following day after this experience from the Israeli army.
A female secondary school is located just meters away from the elementary school. Fortunately, no one was injured in that institution despite some exposure to the gas, but it did eventually close early as a precaution.
Witnesses reported that Israeli forces have also harassed neighbours to the school who photographed the attack. That is the case with Ahmed Zubuydi, aged 21. He was working in a nearby shop when a military jeep stopped in front of him and interrogated him for 20 minutes. He was asked to show his ID and was thoroughly searched. The commander of the Israeli soldiers began asking personal questions, such as where Ahmed worked, where he studied, and where he spends the money he earns. Ahmed reports that this is not the first time he has been interrogated by the Israeli army.
The headmistress of the girl’s elementary school reported that this is the second time this year that this sort of attack has occurred, with the first taking place in January. The school fears that these attacks may become systematic and will therefore seek training from the Fire Department to help cope with future incidents.
- Salfit’s rich agriculture threatened by factory development and settlers’ sewage (palsolidarity.org)
- PHOTOS | Israelis scrawl ‘Death to Arabs’ in Salfit (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Soldiers Invade Salfit (imemc.org)
Ramallah, Occupied Palestine – This afternoon approximately 500 Palestinian, international and Israeli demonstrators gathered close to Ofer Prison in Ramallah to protest against the refusal of the Israeli state to release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners. As part of the current round of talks between Fatah (the Palestinian government of the West Bank) and the Israeli government, a series of prisoner releases was promised by the state of Israel, and the fourth was due to be carried out by the end of March, the Israeli government has now refused to honor the final release.
The demonstration began at approximately 12pm, the protests’ aim was to march towards Ofer prison itself, but due to the large number of Israeli forces present, this was not possible. The demonstrators also twice attempted a prayer at the start of the protest, but were unable to due to the high level of aggression from Israeli forces.
As the demonstration was beginning a 53-year-old Palestinian was shot at several times through the window of his car as he was driving away from Israeli forces. One of these rubber-coated steel bullets struck him in the head. The rubber-coated steel bullet broke several bones around his eye, a piece of the bullet was unable to be immediately removed and so he required surgery.
The level of violence escalated from this point as Palestinian youth threw stones at the Israeli military, while they (the military) fired hundreds of tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition, injuring many demonstrators. At several points during the demonstration, Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters directly at protesters, both highly dangerous and in contravention to Israeli military procedure, which is shooting them up into an arch to lower the impacted velocity.
A full list of all those injured is currently not available, however at least 10 people were transferred by ambulance to a local hospital in Ramallah to seek medical treatment for their injuries and Red Crescent medics at the demonstration treated many others for varying wounds.
Below is a list of specific injuries that were confirmed both at the demonstration and from ISM activists at the local Ramallah hospital:
- A 21-year-old Palestinian activist was injured after being shot from extremely close range with a sponge-tipped projectile in the back.
- Two ISM activists were also both shot from extremely close range with sponge-tipped projectiles in their backs.
- A 20-year-old Palestinian was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the head.
- A 48-year-old Palestinian journalist was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the left shoulder.
- A Palestinian activist was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the foot.
- A 20-year-old Palestinian was shot with two .22 live ammunition bullets in his foot and in his knee.
- A 30-year-old Palestinian was shot with .22 live ammunition in his right hand.
- Another Palestinian was shot with .22 live ammunition in his left foot; the bullet was unable to be removed.
- 36-years-old Palestinian was shot with two .22 live ammunition bullets, both in his left foot.
- A 31-year-old Palestinian was shot in the left leg with .22 live ammunition.
- A 36-year-old Palestinian was shot with .22 live ammunition in the left foot.
- Mohammed Yasin, a photojournalist from Bi’lin who was wearing a press vest, was shot in his face with a rubber-coated steel bullet and also shot in his stomach with a .22 live ammunition bullet. He remains in hospital in serious condition, as the bullet may have destroyed parts of his liver.
An ISMer who was present at Ofer had this to say: “The Israeli forces present were really violent today. It was impossible to count the amount of tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition fired; it felt constant for several hours. It became clear many times during the protest that the soldiers were specifically aiming at people, they weren’t trying to ‘end’ the demo, they just wanted to injure as many people as possible. I just don’t understand how people can defend the Israeli state and its military when they use this much violence against unarmed protesters.”
Photo by ISM
- PCHR Weekly Report: 3 Palestinians Killed, 34 Wounded by Israeli Troops (imemc.org)
- Week of protests cross the west bank in solidarity with Gaza (nilin-village.org)
Bruqin, Occupied Palestine – On the 1st of April, at approximately 5.30 AM, a bulldozer and eight military jeeps arrived in the village of Bruqin close to the city of Nablus. The bulldozer first destroyed a farmers shed, killing the ten rabbits inside. The destruction continued as a caravan belonging to another farmer was also demolished, and finally later the same night, a building belonging to a farmer in the nearby village of Beit Furik was also destroyed.
This is just one of many nights where Palestinian property has been demolished by the Israeli army. Inside the village of Bruqin a girl’s school, recently financed by US Aid, is threatened by a demolition order.
The mayor of Bruqin spoke to an ISM activist after the demolitions:
“I talked to some Israeli settlers one week ago, and told them that we could live in peace, together. But they replied that they want another 700 dunums of land from Bruqin. So, I don’t think that they want peace. If you really want peace, you wouldn’t take what’s mine”.
The resistance in Bruqin against the illegal expansion of settlements continues. The day after the demolitions, men, women and children of the village went out on the hills close to a nearby illegal settlement and planted olive trees.
Open letter to Omar Barghouti, Co-founder, PACBI
Let me start by saying that you have done a lot for BDS and that BDS has done a lot for the Palestinian cause. It is perhaps for this reason that we should all be concerned with potential corruption of the movement, and you most of all. I refer to changes of wording, changes of direction and changes of priority within the movement.
The change of wording is the infamous four words “occupied in June, 1967″ inserted into the first of three objectives in the mission statement portion of the 2005 BDS Call signed by 173 Palestinian organizations, such that the statement now demands of Israel:
“Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall…” (added phrase in italics)
I understand your argument that this phrase only clarifies the meaning of the original statement, and that it changes the meaning not at all. Even so, who gave you the right to make the change without consulting and getting the approval of the signatories to the original call? Why was it inserted without even telling anyone, such that no one but you even knows when it was done? If it is so uncontroversial, why not get it approved?
Why is the phrase needed, anyway? You argue that it results in no change of meaning. Why, then, is it not superfluous? Since it is a bone of contention, just remove it and be done with it.
I also understand that the offending phrase occurs only in the ”Introducing the BDS Movement” section of the website and that the original wording is preserved elsewhere. However, this is at best misleading and at worst disingenuous. The “Introducing the BDS Movement” section reproduces the three demands from the 2005 Call completely verbatim, except for the added four words, and then proceeds to make the claim that this wording is endorsed by the signatories of the 2005 BDS Call.
This is deceptive and even fraudulent and must be corrected. The altered wording has even been mistakenly quoted by Max Blumenthal in his book Goliath as being the wording of the original BDS Call. Your misrepresentation has led directly to his error.
However, the wording is not merely a technical problem. The wording is apparently important to you. But why? Could it be that the wording was needed in order to satisfy individuals or groups or interests that demanded this wording? Was it meant as an assurance that BDS would not demand the return of all lands stolen from Palestinians but only those lands that were stolen outside the Green Line?
If this is the case, it would explain why many “soft” Zionists, who want to maintain a Jewish state but give back the West Bank, now participate in BDS, but only against institutions that support the Israeli presence in the West Bank.
In fact, that is the current priority of the movement, with little or no Boycott, Divestment or Sanctions aimed at institutions that deny equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel or the Right of Return to Palestinians in the shatat (“diaspora”).
Is this a coincidence or is BDS headed in a different direction than its origins would indicate? Is it no longer a Palestinian movement, but rather a “soft” Zionist movement?
Obviously, people join movements for different reasons, and if Zionists want to boycott organizations that do business with Israel – even if only in the West Bank – their contribution is welcome.
However, it is quite another matter to effectively turn over the reins of the movement to them or to accommodate them by changing the wording of the mission statement. A Palestinian movement that welcomes Zionists that have limited objectives is quite different from a Zionist movement that wants to limit its mission but accepts Palestinians that have wider goals.
Is that what is going on? Perhaps not. Perhaps my concerns are exaggerated. But in that case, please dispel all doubt by removing the four words.
Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.
Two International Solidarity Movement activists walking on Shudaha Street area were brutally attacked by French Zionist tourists who were visiting to attend the weekly settler tour of the Palestinian part of Hebron.
At around 1:30 PM the activists were walking in the direction of Shuhada Street when the 6 young men rounded the corner, upon seeing the activists they spread across the road. Within seconds, the group attacked the ISM activists, chasing one back in the direction of the Ibrahim Mosque and continued to attack while soldiers leveled their weapons at the attacker.
The other activist was chased, tripped and kicked in the body and face by the Zionist assailant until he was chased away by the two soldiers. On gaining his feet, the activist was punched in the face by the man who had just chased his companion away. The activist ran and the army stopped his pursuer.
The incident was reported to the police, who found two of the attackers in Shuhada Street and took their details. They were not detained as it was the Sabbath when religious Jews are rarely arrested. The activists were taken to a local Police station to make a statement and overheard aggressive integration of a Palestinian prisoner.
We also received a report that an Italian tourist was attacked by 10 religious Zionists in the city on the same day of the attack. After his beating, was told that if he wants to come back he must wear a Kippah.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On Sunday, the 16th of February, Israeli soldiers and border police in Hebron fired tear gas and sound grenades at children on their way to school. The border police also chased the children, attempting to arrest them.
At Checkpoint 29, around 7:30 a.m., a few children on their way to school (there are three schools near the checkpoint) were throwing stones at the soldiers stationed there. In response to this two border police and a soldier appeared from an alley and threw a sound grenade at the kids close to the United Nations school on Tareq Ben Ziyad Street.
This frightened not only the children who had thrown stones but all the children on their way to school, causing them to flee. When they did not catch any children the two border police and the soldier stood in front of the school blocking the entrance and started firing teargas at those who had fled.
As the border police and the soldier returned to the checkpoint, three new soldiers came out of an apartment across the street, preventing the children from entering their school. The soldiers continued firing teargas towards the crowd of upset and frightened children.
Tear gas is a nondiscriminatory nerve gas which affects all persons nearby. The gas often takes a long time to disperse, forcing children to go through the half-dispersed gas clouds on their way to school, leaving them crying and coughing. The use of tear gas against schoolchildren is common in Hebron.
In total, seven soldiers and two border police were involved in the incident, firing six tear gas grenades and two sound grenades at the children.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On the afternoon of February 11, 2014, settlers in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Al-Khalil (Hebron) cut down trees belonging to the Abu Eisheh family. While attempting to film the destruction of the trees, four human rights activists were arrested by Israeli police.
At approximately 3:30 p.m., three activists, a Swiss-American, an American, and an Italian, were sitting in their apartment in Tel Rumeida when they heard a commotion outside. Outside the apartment, they found a group of settlers, Palestinians, Israeli soldiers and Israeli police. They were informed by the Palestinians that a group of settlers was cutting down trees at a house just up the road.
The three activists began filming but were not allowed up the road to where the tree-cutting was taking place. While filming, the American activist was physically assaulted by a settler. None of the soldiers or police officers present intervened. Instead, the Israeli police took the passports belonging to the American and Swiss-American and told them to sit on the ground.
At this time, the Italian citizen returned to the apartment, where she was joined by a fourth activist, an American, who had just arrived. Shortly thereafter, a group of soldiers and police officers attempted to enter the apartment. They were not allowed entry, but briefly questioned the two activists outside the apartment door. The Israeli police then confiscated the passports belonging to the American and the Italian.
Not long after, all four activists were transported to the police station near Kiryat Arba, where they were interrogated and threatened with deportation. After seven hours, the activists were released.
The following day, February 12th, two activists from Christian Peacemaker Teams visited Tel Rumeida to document the destruction of the trees. They were not there long before several Israeli soldiers approached them, told them to stop filming, and took their passports. They were held for two hours before their passports were returned. Israeli soldiers informed the two activists that if they approached the trees again they would be arrested.
The destruction of Palestinian trees by settlers is a chronic problem, not only in Tel Rumeida, but all over the West Bank. In the past month alone, more than 2500 trees in the village of Sinjil were destroyed by settlers. Trees have also recently been destroyed by settlers in Qusra, Ramallah, and Nablus. Fruit trees are an essential resource for the Palestinian community, and their damage causes serious economic loss. It takes as long as 12 years for an olive tree to reach full maturity.
Occupied Palestine – On Wednesday 29th January, 2014, two international human rights activists were arrested at Salem Military Court, in Jenin district. The activists, Norwegian and Canadian, were at the court to attend a hearing for Ahmad Atatreh, a 20-year-old Palestinian activist who had been arrested ten days earlier at a peaceful demonstration in the Jordan Valley.
Following the hearing, which the activists had attended in solidarity with Mr Atatreh and his family, Israeli soldiers violently pushed the defendant, who was in handcuffs, out of the courtroom. When the internationals asked why he was receiving this rough treatment, the soldiers took the passport from the Norwegian and arrested her on the accusation of having “slapped a soldier.”
The two remaining activists and the family of Mr Atatreh left the court facilities and were getting into a car outside when they were approached by another soldier, who subsequently arrested the Canadian, accusing him of “attempting to prevent an arrest.”
The activists were held overnight in the police station in the illegal settlement of Ariel. Under Israeli law they should be taken before a civil court judge within 24 hours of their arrest, although in recent cases the police have disregarded this, preferring to initiate deportation procedures without following due process.
The Canadian citizen was released on Thursday afternoon. The Norwegian citizen is being processed for deportation.
In the past month alone, five international human rights activists have been arrested, leading to concerns of a military crackdown on international solidarity with the Palestinian people.
With regard to the case of Ahmad Atatreh, who was arrested on the accusation of assaulting a soldier, the judge postponed the trial for a further month, in order to re-examine the evidence. The next time he appears in court he will have spent six weeks in administrative detention.
The Israeli military judicial system has been criticized by various human rights groups for their lack of fair trial guarantees and discrimination in procedural law. For more information on Israeli military courts see: http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=291
Occupied Palestine – On Saturday 18th January during a peaceful protest in the Jordan Valley, 19-year-old Ahmad Walid Atatreh, a Palestinian activist and 24-year-old Sven W, a German activist who lives in Switzerland, were arrested and beaten after a march held in Jiftlik Adam Junction. Ahmad is a law student, studying at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem.
The march in Jiftlik was organized in protest against a legislation bill recently approved in the Knesset to annex the Jordan Valley to the current state of Israel. While the Israeli government declares that the move is purely for security reasons, the large number of illegal agricultural settlements and theft of Palestinian water rights demonstrate that the motives are largely economic.
Almost 95% of the Jordan Valley lies in Area C, under full Israeli civil and military control. Palestinian Bedouin herders suffer repeated demolitions of their homes and animal shelters, and water tanks are frequently confiscated. A large section of the area is reserved as a firing zone and residents are often forcibly removed from their homes to make way for military exercises.
Approximately 60 people gathered in the Jordan Valley and began a protest holding banners and chanting against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. As the march ended, Israeli forces invaded the area and began to arrest Palestinian demonstrators. Sven W and a British volunteer succeeded in stopping the detention of a Palestinian youth and in the process were both arrested by the Israeli army.
The two international activists were violently pushed to the ground by an Israeli soldier and handcuffed. The British activist managed to escape detention, whilst Sven was blindfolded and forced to kneel on the ground.
One Israeli soldier purposefully pushed Sven’s face in dirty water before taking him behind a military jeep and repeatedly kicking him in the ribs. Ahmad was also beaten after his arrest and received injuries to his knee. The British activist received a similar assault before escaping detention.
During the arrests, Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition into the air, and on several occasions pointed their rifles at protesters’ faces.
Sven and Ahmad were blindfolded for 3 hours and were driven to an Israeli military base. While they were blindfolded, Israeli forces attempted to intimidate and frighten the activists by pointing guns in their faces.
At the military base Sven was told he was a “terrorist” and was arrested because he “threw stones”.
Sven is committed to non-violent resistance and during this particular demonstration, no stones were thrown.
Both activists were taken to a ‘medical’ room in the military base where their blindfolds were briefly removed, although their handcuffs remained. Sven told the Israeli soldiers that he had a headache after being unable to see for such a long period of time, and also that his ribs were sore due to the beating he received after his arrest. According to Sven this information was noted down although Israeli forces did nothing to assist with his pain. During this time in the medical room, many Israeli soldiers entered and took pictures of both Sven and Ahmad using their mobile phones.
Ahmad and Sven were then blindfolded again and driven to a police station in the illegal settlement of Ariel, neither activist was given any information with regard to where they were being taken or allowed to contact legal representation. During this drive Israeli forces stopped the car, tightened Ahmad’s blindfold and stole a camera from Sven’s bag, using it to take pictures of the two blindfolded men.
When they arrived at Ariel, Sven was finally informed of the three charges against him, assaulting an Israeli soldier, attempting to steal a rifle from a soldier and blocking a highway and therefore ‘”endangering” lives (however at no moment was anyone blocking the main highway, activists were gathered at the side of the road). The same charges were also given to Ahmad and are completely fabricated for both activists.
Sven and Ahmad spent the night in Ariel police station along with five other Palestinian prisoners. The light was kept on all night with Israeli forces constantly entering the cell, ensuring that none of the prisoners were able to sleep. At one point Sven was woken by a police officer and told he would have court in the morning.
Under Israeli law internationals must be taken before a judge within 24 hours.
In the morning of the 19th, Sven repeatedly asked when he would be transferred for his court hearing and he was ignored by Israeli police. At this point neither Sven nor Ahmad were allowed to contact legal representation. Ahmad also requested to speak to his lawyer and was told that unless he gave information about the demonstration he would not be allowed to contact anyone.
At 5pm, Sven was transferred from Ariel police station to a terminal at Ben Gurion airport. He was never taken before a judge and was instead asked to sign a piece of paper saying he agreed to be deported to Germany, although he has been living in Switzerland for the last 4 years.
Sven refused to sign unless he was allowed to speak to legal representation. Finally he was allowed to make a phone call, though was unable to get through to his lawyer and therefore unwilling to sign the document.
Sven was transferred to a prison in Ramle, near Tel Aviv, which is where he currently resides. He is expected to be deported on Thursday. When Sven left the illegal settlement of Ariel, Ahmad was still imprisoned. He has now been transferred to Hadarim prison in Netanya and should attend Salem court within the next few days. However he has still not been allowed to contact his lawyer, the first time Ahmad will speak to him will be when he is taken before a judge.
When Sven is deported this week, he will be the third international activist in less than two weeks to be arrested and deported by Israeli forces. Vincent Mainville and Fabio Theodule were arrested on the 8th January and deported a week later. Their arrest was ruled illegal by an Israeli court in Jerusalem, although this did not stop their transfer to the immigration center.
Occupied Palestine – On Wednesday 8th January, Vincent Mainville and Fabio Theodule were arrested by Israeli border police in Khalil (Hebron).
The two boys were handcuffed and taken to Jaabara police station where they were forced to kneel on the concrete floor for approximately 30 minutes. Fabio was blindfolded with his own keffiyeh and while kneeling he was pushed against the wall by Israeli border police officers and kicked in his legs.
After an hour passed, the makeshift blindfold was removed although their hands remained cuffed behind their backs for the next four to five hours.
Fabio and Vincent were questioned by Israeli forces, both refusing to sign documents that were written in Hebrew. They were went taken to Kiryat Arba police station, fingerprinted and then interrogated once again. Several hours passed and it was only at this point that they were allowed to call their legal representative.
They were transferred to a police facility near Ben Gurion airport where they were made to wait outside in a prison courtyard for two hours. Fabio asked for water and was told by a border police officer, “If you want to drink, you can drink my piss”.
Fabio and Vincent repeatedly asked for jackets or a blanket due to the cold weather, they were both ignored.
They were taken inside this facility for 30 minutes before being transferred back to Kiryat Arba police station in Khalil. Their handcuffed were removed at 12:30 at night and they were placed in a cell to sleep.
In the morning, on Thursday 9th January, Vincent and Fabio were awakened and handcuffed at 6:30 in the morning. They received no information about their situation and were not informed they had a court hearing that morning. When they arrived at court in Jerusalem they were allowed to speak to their lawyer for approximately four minutes outside the courthouse, with Israeli border police present.
After they had the short conversation with their lawyer they were taken to the immigration office in Tel Aviv. The two activists tried to refuse to enter this building as they knew their lawyer was attempting to argue against their arrest [which was eventually declared illegal]. It was at this point Israeli forces became extremely aggressive, dragging both Vincent and Fabio by their handcuffs causing their wrists to bleed.
Vincent attempted to resist as they dragged both boys up a set of stairs and it was at this point a man from the immigration center kicked him in his ribs and his face. They were taken into a room and after one hour, were able to contact their lawyer, though they were not allowed privacy for this phone call.
Vincent asked if he could file charges against the man who has beat him, and he was told he was not allowed to do this.
At this point Vincent and Fabio were given food for the first time in 25 hours.
The boys were then taken to Giv’on prison in Ramle, close to Tel Aviv. They were unable to contact their lawyer again and received no information about their case, until they were finally able to be contacted by ISM two days later.
Vincent and Fabio are very likely to be deported within the next few days, their arrest has been ruled illegal by an Israeli court but this has not made any difference to their situation. Their treatment since being arrested should serve as a reminder in terms of how Israeli forces are able to treat their prisoners, whether justified or not. However, Vincent and Fabio as internationals have received far better treatment then Palestinian prisoners. The brutal treatment of Palestinian prisoners echoes throughout Palestine and serves as a daily reminder of the Israeli occupation.
Kifl Hares, Occupied Palestine – On Friday, 10th January 2014, at approximately 4 o’clock in the morning a group of twenty settlers from nearby illegal settlements entered the Palestinian village of Kifl Hares. Some of them arrived in cars, others on foot. The settlers made noise and broke windows of parked cars. Palestinians on their way to the mosque for the first prayers were harassed and settlers in cars tried to run them over. Children were frightened and the villagers were afraid to leave their homes.
Previously, on Tuesday 7th January, the Israeli army closed the gate at the main entrance to the village, which leads to the main road. When villagers asked the reason for this, the soldiers stationed in a watchtower nearby answered that the gate would be closed indefinitely for security reasons.
On Thursday, 9th January, an emergency occurred, when an ambulance attempted to take an elderly lady living near the entrance to a hospital in Nablus. The residents requested that the Israeli soldiers open the gate for just five minutes so that the ambulance could reach the main road. The Israeli forces refused and the paramedic had to carry the lady by hand on a stretcher from her house to the other side of the gate. This delayed her arrival at hospital.
The gate has been opened only once in the past few days. This happened on Friday, when the settlers entered the village, implying that the Israeli forces knew of the settler attack.
Illegal settlers and Jewish tourists have entered Kifl Hares on many occasions. The village is located in the northern West Bank in the Salfit district and close to Ariel, the largest of the illegal settlements. The pretext for the incursions into Kifl Hares is a pilgrimage to three disputed tombs. The centuries-old tombs belonging to the village are also important for Muslims. Large numbers of settlers arrive on visits organized by the DCO and with Israeli army protection. Settlers and Jewish tourists from all over the world arrive by bus, frequently during the night. During the incursions, Israeli forces declare the village a closed military zone and Palestinians are required to stay in their homes until the settlers have left. This event occurs around twenty times a year. Nevertheless settlers also come weekly without army protection to pray in the tombs and often to harass or attack villagers. Several years ago Palestinian youth would resist these incursions by throwing stones at the illegal settlers and Israeli forces. This resistance was invariably responded to with night raids and arrests that resulted in imprisonment for up to five years. Since then villagers have been afraid to resist these settler attacks.
Occupied Palestine – Yesterday, Wednesday 8th January, at approximately 11am in Khalil (Hebron), Vincent Mainville and Fabio Theodule (Swiss and Italian citizens respectively), were arrested by Israeli border police officers.
The two international activists were first detained while trying to stop Israeli forces firing live ammunition and tear gas canisters towards a group of Palestinian youth and children throwing stones towards the soldiers.
Israeli forces accused the two activists of trying to assault a border police officer and obstruction of military action. Both activists are committed to non-violent solidarity work.
Vincent and Fabio were handcuffed and transferred to Jaabara police station, where they were left in the handcuffs for over three hours before finally being allowed to contact legal representation.
The two activists attended Hasharon court this morning in Jerusalem; they were escorted by Israeli border police and were handcuffed throughout the night. When they arrived in the courthouse they were escorted to several different rooms before being led outside the court without seeing their lawyer. Vincent and Fabio were then taken to the immigration center where deportation procedures were begun without a court hearing.
Although the judge later ruled that the activists had been illegally arrested, it was too late to prevent their transfer to immigration and therefore prevent their deportation.
The activists are now being held by Israeli forces and it is not known how long they will be held for before they are deported from the country.