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Attack on eye-winesses continues

Attack on eye-winesses continues, CPT targeted & dark designs in Gaza

[This message is devoted to the army's continuing efforts to get rid of inconvenient international or Israeli eye-witnesses to its activities, and to one exposed plan which may help explain this eagerness]

  • [1] Crackdown on international activists in Hebron
  • [2] Israeli activists debarred from Tuwana
  • [3] Gush Shalom warns of dark designs in North Gaza
  • [1] Crackdown on the Christian Peacemaking Team in Hebron

    A week after the raid on the ISM office in Beit Sahour, the army is targetting also the CPT (Christian Peacemakers Teams) - composed of North American and British religious pacifists, who have been based for much of the past decade at Hebron and hitherto left mostly unmolested by the army.

    At 8:20pm on Tuesday, May 20, a group of eight soldiers entered the CPT apartments in the Old City of Hebron, for the second consecutive search in as many days. Soldiers looked at the passports and visas of the CPTers present, took photographs of the apartment and the CPTers themselves and examined the maps and pictures on the wall along with the contents of the filing cabinet.

    Then, a soldier speaking English an unmistakable London accent - a man who seemed to have authority over the others but wore no insignia of rank - laid down the harsh new law for the activists.

    >From now on, they are debarred from entering H1 - the part of Hebron which had been under Palestinian control under the Oslo Agreements, but reoccupied by the army last year. Any activist found there would be liable to arrest and deportation, since "only foreign nationals working for NGO's recognized by the Israeli government are allowed in".

    (H2 is the part of Hebron where Israeli Border Guards rampaged last year, beating up randomly-chosen inhabitants and finally killing a 17- year old boy by throwing him off a speeding jeep; four of the guards involved are now being prosecuted at a Jerusalem court, after an intensive campaign by Be'tselem and other human rights groups.) Other limitations on the CPTers include a strict prohibition to come anywhere near the armed enclaves of Israeli nationalist-religious settlers scattered throughout central Hebron. Finally, and perhaps most grievous, the activists are from now on forbidden to engage in "School Patrol", one of their most important activities.

    Sue Rhodes, a British activist with long experience of the Hebron situation, explained over the phone the significance of "The School Patrol". Old Hebron, the area where the settlers have established their armed enclaves, has been under almost continuous curfew for the past two and a half years, and especially since the big Palestinian ambush on Israeli soldiers in November 2002. The daily life of Palestinian inhabitants is totally disrupted (the curfew does not apply to settlers).

    Among other things, Palestinian children find it difficult to attend school. While on some days soldiers tacitly tolerate the children, on other days they are days they are considered to be curfew-breakers, bombarded with tear gas or even shot at. At still other times, the schools are declared "closed military zones" and debarred to pupils and teachers. The soldiers' behavior, in this as in other respects, seems completely arbitrary and unpredictable. Also, Palestinian children on the way to school often suffer severe harassment from settlers.

    The presence of CPTers, accompanying the children on their way, is far from providing a complete defence. Still, it does make a difference. The fact that on some days as many as 1400 pupils actually make it to school, out of the 2000 enrolled in the area's seven schools, is partially due to the CPT "School Patrols". Now, this minimal measure of protection is to be denied to the Hebron children.

    Meanwhile, CPTer Greg Rollins (a Canadian of Surrey, BC) was arrested on Sunday when monitoring the detention of several Hebronites, taken to prison and threatened with immediate deportation. Rollins' attorney,Adv. Jonathan Kuttab, is seeking an injunction from the Supreme Court in Jerusalem. Kutab told Ha’aretz (May 21) that the CPT opposes all violence, including violence by Palestinians, and cited the remarkable case last August when Greg Rollins jumped in front of a Palestinian woman who had tried to stab two soldiers with a big kitchen knife, literally defending the soldiers with his body. (See http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/295621.html )

    It is not sure that the authorities would be convinced. Rollins is presently held in the section of Ma'asiyahu Prison reserved for “unwanted aliens”, mostly housing hapless migrant workers from Third World countries caught in the late-night raids of the notorious Immigration Police. As things presently stand, Rollins seems doomed to share the eventual fate of his cellmates – being taken to the nearby Ben Gurion Airport and forcibly placed on an outward bound flight.

    The continued presence in Hebron of the remaining seven CPT activists seems now to hang by a precarious thread.

    Please send protests to Minister of Defence Saul Mofaz ( mailto:sar@mod.gov.il) and his spokesperson ( mailto:dover@mod.gov.il), to Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom ( mailto:sar@mofa.gov.il and/or mailto:ask@israel-info.gov.il), and to Interior Minister Avraham Poraz (mailto:sar@moin.gov.il) who is directly charged with the deportation of foreigners and who has recently built for himself a liberal reputation.

    Since this case concerns a Canadian citizen, it might be worthwhile also to send copies to Canada's Prime Minister ( mailto:pm@pm.gc.ca) and to the Israeli embassy in that country ( mailto:embisrott@cyberus.ca). And please send copies also to the CPT at mailto:cptheb@palnet.com.

    You can use the following text or compose your own.

    Dear Sir

    I strongly protest the Government of Israel's crackdown on international peace activists in the Occupied Territories, and specifically the severe restrictions placed this week upon the humanitarian activities of the Christian Peacemakers Team in Hebron and the threatened deportation of CPT member Greg Rollins, a Canadian citizen - following upon the earlier attack upon the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).

    The continued presence of international activists, committed to peace and non-violence, is beneficial to all including Israel. Their forcible removal, or severe restrictions placed upon their movements, may arouse the suspicion that your government and armed forces have something to hide from the world.

    To learn more about the CPT, look in at http://www.cpt.org and http://www.clubphoto.com

    [2] Israeli activists debarred from Tuwana

    Troublemaking peacemakers

    By Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz. 20/5/2003

    Two years ago, the Jewish-Arab cooperative peace group Ta'ayush adopted the residents of Hirbat, south of Mt. Hebron. Every few weeks a group of peace activists goes to the fields of the little village of Tuwana, whose land is being greedily eyed by extremism settlers. Sometimes they act as human shields for the Palestinian farmers who try to work their land. Other times they accompany school children on their way to elementary school, to protect them from settlers on the dusty roads leading to the school. A small group sometimes spends weekends in the company of the villagers.

    Ta'ayush's intervention sometimes forces the army to send troops to protect the farmers from settler thugs who use their guns to expel the farmers from their lands. Lately, however, the activists are encountering soldiers blocking their way to the village and presenting "closed military zone" decrees. Sometimes, standing alongside the soldiers are armed settlers from the nearby outposts. For them, of course, the area is neither military nor closed.

    For weeks, the IDF Spokesman's Office has refrained from commenting on the strange phenomenon of discrimination between one type of Jew and another (discrimination between Jew and Arab is old hat, like dog bites man). And maybe the real piece of news is that the IDF has decided to put an end to the discrimination between foreign peace activists, who have been formally banned from the territories, and their Israeli counterparts.

    Last Friday, a group of soldiers stopped the Ta'ayush cars on Route 60, on their way to Tuwana. Brigadier General Amos Ben-Avraham, commander of the Judea Corps command, was present in person to flourish a military order preventing the peace activists from proceeding further. This time they had a video camera with them. A synopsis of the events, from the videotape, follows - instead of the still-awaited comment from the IDF Spokesman's bureau.

    Ben-Avraham: Would you stop filming, please?

    Activist A.: If the IDF prevents peace activists from reaching the area, I think the world should know about it.

    Ben-Avraham: The IDF does not prevent peace activists from reaching the area.

    Activist A.: But that's precisely what you're doing right now.

    Ben-Avraham: I don't know if you are a peace activist. I do more for peace than you do.

    Activist A.: What can an occupying army do for peace?

    Ben-Avraham: This is not an occupation army. This is the army ... the army of the State of Israel! Four people were murdered right here. We're here, next to each other. I have to keep things quiet.

    Activist A.: You don't even know what's going on in your own district. You didn't know the children are harassed on this road nearly every day.

    Ben-Avraham: I didn't know because I didn't see it ...

    Activist A.: Then maybe there are a lot of things that happen here and you don't see. When we aren't here, armed settlers come to the village and conduct mini-pogroms, like shooting a 73-year-old shepherdess who went out with her sheep. I don't see anything that should prevent us from visiting our friends. When the settlers' friends e come to visit them, at the Maon outpost, you don't stop them.

    Ben-Avraham: We're thinking about how to keep things quiet and prevent the noise that will break out tomorrow because of your arrival here.

    Activist A.: Why should there be any noise as a result of our visit? Ben-Avraham: That's our experience.

    Activist A.: When we come, the settlers come and they are the violent ones. Your job is to arrest those who are violent, and not those who come with pure motives.

    Ben-Avraham: I'm not here to conduct a dialogue with you ... that fellow [he looks at Activist B., who continued filming] is making me very nervous. He's disgusting and arrogant.

    Activist A.: I'm more bothered by your soldiers, who stopped us on false pretenses.

    Activist C.: Maybe we can reach an agreement?

    Ben-Avraham: No agreement. To keep things quiet, you can't be here. The officer gets into his vehicle and drives away. The Ta'ayush activists return to their cars and head home. The hilltop thugs grin from ear to ear.

    [3] Gush Shalom warns of dark designs in North Gaza

    On May 20, senior military commentator Ze'ev Shiff of Ha'aretz published an article bemoaning the army's lack of success in stopping the shooting of Palestinian "Kassam" rockets from the northern Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. While the rockets are primitive and so far caused little damage, the continued firing of such rockets - in spite of mass punitive invasions of the northern Gaza Strip and the large-scale destruction of foliage and Palestinian orange groves in order to "force the rocket shooters into the open" - has become a question of prestige and of "eroding deterrence".

    The Shiff article ends with the ominous words: "Israel has the option of conquering further territory, destroying all structures and expelling the population". The area in question contains two sizeable towns, Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya, as well as numerous agricultural communities.

    Ze'ev Shiff is known to be on very good terms with the high command of the Israeli armed forces, and his commentaries often reflect ideas and policies being currently discussed by the generals. Today the Gush Shalom movement sent a letter to General Menachem Finkelstein, head of the IDF Legal Section, warning that mass expulsion of population from the northern Gaza Strip would be a severe violation of International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention that anybody involved in the planning or such a expulsion may face trial for war crimes. Even the preparation of contingency plans for such a mass expulsion, Gush Shalom pointed out, might constitute conspiracy to commit war crimes.

    -- Selected articles The Other Israel April/May issue now on site:

    Adam Keller's "Road Map In The Air" (lead article) http://members.tripod.com/~other_Israel/ed.html

    Saga Of The Court Martials: http://members.tripod.com/~other_Israel/courtmartials.html

    + a lot more One time free sample (hardcopy) via: mailto:otherisr@actcom.co.il >From US addresses via: mailto:aicipp@igc.org

    -- A map of the separation wall:

    http://www.gush-shalom.org/thewall/hebrew.html http://www.gush-shalom.org/thewall/index.html (English)

    -- Our site: http://www.gush-shalom.org/ (òáøéú) http://www.gush-shalom.org/english/index.html (English)

    with \\photo's - of action or otherwise informative \\the weekly Gush Shalom ad - in Hebrew and English \\the columns of Uri Avnery - in Hebrew, Arab and English \\and an archive full of interesting documents

    N.B.: On the Gush Shalom website links for: Articles and documents in German Articles and documents in French Articles and documents in Spanish

    In order to receive our Hebrew-language press releases [mostly WORD documents - not always same as English] mailto:gush-shalom-heb-request@mailman.gush-shalom.org + NB: write the word "subscribe" in the subject line.

    To get more of the forwarded reports and announcements which we receive from other organizations + a selection of English-language articles, send one blank mailto:TOI_Billboard-subscribe@topica.com

    If you want to support Gush Shalom's activities you can send a cheque or cash, wrapped well in an extra piece of paper to:

    Gush Shalom pob 3322 Tel-Aviv 61033 Israel

    or ask us for charities in your country which receive donations on behalf of Gush Shalom

    Please, add your email address where to send our confirmation of receipt. More official receipts at request only.


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