Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News and Views, July 2011
International Peace Activists in Hunger Strike Over their Detention by Israeli Occupation Forces
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July 11, 2011
Israeli authorities set stringent conditions for release of "Welcome to Palestine" prisoners. The large majority of international visitors are still incarcerated under brutal conditions, begin a hunger strike in Israeli jail
Over 120 internationals attempting to visit Palestine are still being illegally detained -- kidnapped -- in two Israeli detention centers, in Ramle and in Beer Al-Saba’ (Beersheva). These friends of Palestine, among which there are minors and elderly persons with medical conditions, have been and are being mistreated and subjected to unnecessary brutality.
For example, Dr. Hikmat Al-Sabty, 57, of Rostock, Germany, is being denied needed medication that is in his suitcase; this was reported to his wife by the German Embassy in Tel Aviv, but his wife has not been allowed to speak with him directly. All of those detained have stated repeatedly that they are non-violent and want only to accept the invitation to visit together with Palestinian friends in the program "Welcome to Palestine."
The Israeli authorities released two older German men from Bersheeva prison yesterday, but only on condition that they sign an Israeli legal document that was presented to them only in Hebrew and English. One of the two men came to Bethlehem. He is uncertain of the full contents of the Israeli paper he signed because his English is not good, and he was unable to first consult with his attorney in Israel before signing the paper: the Israeli authorities yesterday made attorney access to prisoners very difficult, and large number of those detained can only be seen by their attorneys today and tomorrow.
The German man now in Bethlehem believes that he has agreed in writing not to go to Ramallah, Jenin, and certain other Palestinian cities, but that the Israeli authorities have allowed that he to go to "tourist" areas in the West Bank. Because he is still uncertain of the full content of the Israeli document he signed, he prefers not to give his name at this time. The Israeli authorities refused, in violation of international law, to give him a copy of the paper he signed. His attorney is seeking to obtain a copy of the document he signed from the Israeli authorities.
We received a letter from the Belgian men in Bersheeva prison, who state that they began a hunger strike last night. In the letter, the Belgians demand, on behalf of all the prisoners, to have contact their families and with their attorneys. They demand an international investigation into the behavior of airline companies and Israeli officials. They also demand to be able to have contact with each other in the Israeli prison. For example, because the French and Belgian men and women are separated in the Bersheeva prison, the men do not know whether the women are also aware of the hunger strike. It is believed that the French men have joined the hunger strike. According to the Germans who were released from Bersheeva, the German men and women there are also participating in the hunger strike, but the men and women are not allowed to speak with each other.
Those few international guests who were able to reach Bethlehem on Friday were invited by their Palestinian hosts to go to either to a demonstration in Qalandia at noon or else to attend a gathering in Bilin at 11 am, from which they then joined Palestinian friends in Nebi Saleh. There Israeli soldiers prevented the bus-loads of passengers and local Palestinians and Israeli supporters from holding a peaceful demonstration. The Israeli forces shot stun grenades and at least two kinds of tear gas canisters at them. The nearby agricultural fields were set ablaze by these tear-gas canisters. The Israeli forces illegally detained -- kidnapped -- four peace activists, including three Israeli citizens and one Brazilian. Several participants were injured.
Events planned continued. Today, there was a gathering in Beit Sahour in front of the Greek Orthodox Church, an event at Aida Refugee Camp and an event in Al-Walaja.
A Day of Israeli Hysteria:
Israeli Occupation Forces Attack International Peace Activists as They Arrive
By Mazin Qumsiyeh
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July 11, 2011
Human rights advocates attacked by Israeli occupation forces after detention at airport in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, on 9 July 2011.
Palestinians in the "Welcome to Palestine" coalition condemn in the strongest possible terms the attack by Israeli occupation forces on dozens of detained human rights activists. One of those detained reported (before his phone was apparently removed) how 32 people were held together in one room and then attacked, forcefully handcuffed and dragged into separate transfer vehicles. They were then forcefully transferred to the Ramle detention facility by the forces of the apartheid regime. Lawyers have been trying to reach the Ministry of Interior to gain access to the abductees and to assure that they receive their right to legal representation, to visits from their country consular staff, and to call their families. Israeli authorities said they are holding 85 people pending deportation "on the next available flight". We know of activists held who come from Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Holland, and Ireland.
Multiple flights were also delayed before departure (apparently to give Israel more time). Activists held demonstrations at several airports in Europe.
Supporters who tried to welcome our visitors were stopped and denied entrance to the airport. Each airport visitor was asked to show either that he/she is traveling or that they are there to meet a specific person (names were checked against arriving flight passenger lists). The few who did manage to get in were immediately attacked even as they peacefully tried to wait for arriving guests. Six were arrested for exercising their right to free speech.
We held a press conference Friday morning to explain our invitation, our campaign, and the week program. We decried the compliance of some airlines in human rights violations (Air France, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, Malev, and Easy Jet). It amounts to the export and outsourcing of policies of occupation and human rights violations from Israel to other countries. Friday weekly demonstrations in the West Bank raised the banner of human solidarity and decried the Israeli attacks. We decried the defamatory statements about our visitors that paved the grounds for violating their rights. A demonstration was also held Friday afternoon in front of the Israeli Ministry of Interior.
We announced our program for the week which commenced successfully with vigils in solidarity with those detained at 6 PM on Friday in the Manara square in Ramallah and the Nativity Square in Bethlehem. Many internationals were there including four who came for our July 8-16 program despite Israel's draconian measures to stop this. Their presence at these peaceful events showed the lie told by Israeli authorities that these are "hooligans" and "trouble makers" whose mere entrance to Palestine was presented to the Israeli public as an existential threat. The real hooligans and trouble-makers turned out to be Israeli government officials and security personnel.
Israeli Occupation forces are now searching for Internationals crossing the checkpoints to the South of Ramallah. But our program continues with two concurrent events scheduled in the Ramallah governorate 9 July 2011 (anniversary of the World Court ruling on the illegality of the apartheid wall and colonial settlements): 11 AM gathering in Bilin for an event elsewhere and then ending in Qalandia at 3 PM and a noon function at Qalandia. Details of other functions are available upon request.
We urge all people to write to the media, to their governments, and to all fellow human beings to say that "enough is enough": Israel must be forced to respect basic human rights, allow free travel and most of all end apartheid and colonization. As a matter of urgency, Western governments must insist that Israeli authorities release those they kidnapped, afford them all protections due them, and punish officials who mistreated our guests.
FRANCE: Nicolas Shahshahani, firstname.lastname@example.org
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FRANCE: Nicolas Shahshahani, firstname.lastname@example.org
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English Blog: http://welcometopalestinenews.blogspot.com/
Arabic Blog: http://ahlanfefalasteen.blogspot.com/
Other stries in major news outlets
Report on event at Nativity square
AFPS: Roissy n'est pas Ben Gourion Airport !
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