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International Group Attacked At Erez

International Group Attacked At Erez

Grassroots International Protection for Palestinians (GIPP)

December 26, 2001
For Immediate Release


[Erez] Ninety foreign civilians traveling on a solidarity visit to Gaza were blocked entry by the Israeli military at Erez today, after being processed and given initial permission to enter. The international group was comprised of American, Belgian, British, and French citizens.

Protesting the Israeli Army decision not to let the group enter Gaza, where they were scheduled to tour Gaza City, Khan Younis and Rafah, including the refugee camps, and meet with Dr. Haidar Abdel Shafi, Director of the Red Crescent, one half of the group decided to walk through Erez.

With hands up in the air the group proceeded to walk, but were met with a violent Israeli response. Soldiers began firing shots and then descended upon the group, punching the men and body-slamming the women. The internationals sat down to try to avoid injury, but to no avail. All of the personal cameras in the group were confiscated and a number of cameras were broken. Israeli soldiers also verbally threatened to shoot and kill all of the foreign civilians. Members of the group were then dragged and forcefully thrown onto their tour bus. Two French civilians were detained.

"We were going to Gaza to support the Palestinian people, and to conduct a fact-finding mission so as to present more objective information to the media and to our fellow patriots at home. We were also carrying with us humanitarian supplies for the people of Gaza. Expressing our right to freedom of movement, not just for ourselves, but also for the Palestinians who are kept caged in Gaza, we decided to cross the checkpoint in order to complete our visit. All of a sudden, shots were fired directly over our heads and we were descended upon by soldiers, who were punching, pushing and throwing us to the ground. We sat down to avoid their blows, but they kept hitting, kicking and pushing. When the soldiers noticed that we were filming the attack, they took and broke our cameras and confiscated our film. Finally, they started dragging us, one by one, and threw us on the bus, where we were kept under guard by Border Police. Many of us sustained injuries, including cuts and bruises, and at least three people require medical attention." (Statement by the international group)

The entire group will lodge formal complaints through their respective embassies. For more information, please contact Huwaida at 052-642-709 or Samir 055-385-257.


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