ISM Updates-Nablus, Tulkarem, Susan's Story, Rafah
ISM Updates-Nablus, Tulkarem, Susan's Story, Rafah
1.Human Rights Abuses and Looting in Nablus
2.ISM Intervention Results in Success for Doctor
3. Army and ISMers in stand-off in Tulkarem
4.ISMers protect Nablus medical centre
5. Susan's story-in her own words
6. US Embassy supports own citizens shock!
1. Rights abuses, looting in Nablus
Two ISM activists from the USA heard horrifying reports from residents regarding human rights abuses in Nablus, as Israeli Occupying Forces continued their offensive on the old city. The house of Mr Ayman Badia Abdul Hadi received a visit from the military at 4.00 am Monday morning. He and his family were reportedly made to stand in the street without any food, water or access to a toilet for the next sixteen hours. No exception was made for any of the family's children, the youngest of whom, a baby, was held by Mr Abdul Hadi and his wife throughout the ordeal. The soldiers gave no reason for the family's harassment, merely asking, "Where are the terrorists?"
When the family was unable to give a response, the soldiers proceeded to ransack the family house.
The two ISM activists had come to pay a visit to the family in the morning, but had been sent away by the military presence.
In a separate incident, a deaf man's house in Qarayoun Square was visited by Israeli soldiers on Monday morning. Mr Auni Mansour has six children, three of whom are also deaf. After making a search of the house, the soldiers focused their attention on a locked cabinet holding family valuables. They blew the lock off the door and stole the money and gold possessions lying inside.
However, they wanted to leave the family with a reminder of their visit. In an act of petty spite, they found four hearing aids belonging to Mr Mansour and his three deaf children, and laughed while they stamped them into pieces.
2. ISM Intervention Results in Success for Doctor
Two American activists in Nablus's old city had success when they managed to intervene on behalf of a doctor from Rafiti Hospital. The doctor had been attempting to deliver food and medicine to a house occupied by the military. The soldiers had threatened to shoot her as a suspected terrorist, but when one of the activists declared himself as a US citizen, they held fire. The two ISM volunteers then asked if they could bring in the parcel on her behalf, and the soldiers relented.
For further information on either of these stories, contact Paul on 059-324601 3. Army & Internationals in Stand-off in Tulkarem
ISM peace volunteers were last night involved in a dramatic stand-off which resulted in the group being severely traumatized after a day of violent clashes in theWest Bank city of Tulkarem. Six volunteers (two British, one Palestinian, one Swede, one Canadian and one American) linked arms in a brave act of defiance to prevent Israeli armoured vehicles entering the refugee camp in the Palestinian city. The IDF, initially repelled, returned after fifteen minutes and dispersed the human barrier with tear gas and sound grenades.
The confrontation occurred after a day of bloody violence which saw a deaf man killed by Israeli troops. Bassil Ali Hassan Abass, 25 years old, died from multiple gun shot wounds. Several other locals in this densely populated area were also injured in the assault.
One ISM activist said, "This has been the latest of numerous Israeli assaults over the past week. We were attempting to de-escalate a violent situation which has seen intense violence recently."
A man reportedly got his brains blown out in the same location yesterday, turning him into a vegetable. The same activist that ambulances had been detained for more than two hours, used as human shields by the soldiers, and prevented from going to hospital.
"This series of assaults on Tulkarem is part of the Israeli government strategy of state terrorism," he said.
A spokesman for the Israeli Defence Force blamed the Intifada for the violence. With regard to the shooting of the deaf man, he said, "It's possible a mistake was made."
4. Internationals Prevent Damage to Medical Centre
At the Union for PalestinianMedical Relief Community in Nablus, volunteers from the International Solidarity Movement staged a sit-in in an effort to prevent Israeli soldiers from blowing a hole in the clinic wall. The army said that they suspected explosive material was being stored in the clinic.
One activist said, "If they had really wanted to come in and search the building, there was nothing to stop them from coming through the front door."
It is believed by those in the local community that the Israeli occupying force's search for bomb-making equipment is merely a smokescreen for attempts to create a network of 'rat-holes' in the latest set of operations in the old city of Nablus. A search of the clinic, conducted after the IDF withdrew their threat to blow up the wall, resulted in nothing suspicious being found.
5.Susan's Story-in her own words
I am finally taking advantage of a little quiet time to write the story of my arrest and imprisonment. It is a long story that has many important details but I want to send out a brief summary immediately.
On Thursday, February 20th at approximately 6 p.m. I was escorted from Huwara checkpoint to Huwara military base because soldiers had said there was a problem, "You have interfered in something."
We (Robin and I) waited for approximately two hours for the Border Police with no further explanation as to what I had done. The Border Police arrived, were given my passport by the soldier, and then told me that my VISA had expired. I informed them that I was in a process for an extension, waiting to hear the answer and showed a blue receipt that I had from completing the application. The soldier who had detained us, who had seen me a number of times, said, "Wow Susan, none of us in Nablus knew about your VISA."
The blue receipt changed nothing; we were taken to Ariel police station between Ramallah and Nablus.
I was interrogated, told that my VISA extension had been denied, refused a lawyer (Ami, the interrogator, said he would not wait for my lawyer although he had spoken with him and knew he was on his way), given no answer to my "Isn't the normal process to inform a person that the application has been denied and then give a certain number of days to leave the country?" and casually informed me on the stairs after my interrogation, "Oh, yeah, you are arrested now, so you can't make anymore calls."
I was strip searched by two police women and shortly after my lawyer, Shamai Leibowitz, arrived. He told me that they were insisting on arresting me, regardless of the amount of money offered as bail and gave me some legal advice that had barely ended when the police officers began putting handcuffs and legcuffs on me and taking me to the police car. I was transported to Hadera prison for women, north of Tel Aviv where my things were searched again and then I was showed a room and a bed at 2 am.
The next morning two men from the Ministry Interior visited and made a number of phone calls, attempting minimally to ask me questions after I told them that I would be happy to answer their questions but only in the presence of my lawyer, and that they had done this enough times to know that my lawyer needed to be present. One man stamped something and then they said they had finished, he was the same man who initially said "How long have you been here?" and I said "You don't have to ask me. It's in my passport" and he said smiling "We'll show you the way out."
I was let back upstairs and within 30 minutes a police woman came and asked me to sign a formality (my deportation order which I recognized as the paper the man had stamped) and I declined of course.
I could say a lot about prison , the police, the time and conditions but I will attempt to abbreviate this account. I was visited Friday, February 21st by the Minister of Interior and also another police officer in plain clothes that I highly suspect was recording me. I had two visits from lawyers before my hearing. The hearing was Tuesday, February 25th and Michael Sfard represented me. He said there were two issues: my deportation order which was being contested, and my imprisonment ; in the hearing he would try to get me out. The judge decided to let me out by noon the following day if a number of conditions were fulfilled: 15,000 shekels bail, residing at a specific address in Jerusalem, presenting an airplane ticket to the US, and checking in twice a week at a police station in Jerusalem. Michael told me that the Ministry of Interior had 24 hours to appeal the decision made by the judge.
The next day, Wednesday, February 26th, an hour before I was due to be released, Eli, a police officer at Hadera calls me downstairs and says "The decision was appealed so you're not going to be free." I said "That's' fine; my lawyers informed me that it was a possibility. They'll just appeal again."
Thursday, February 27 at 7p.m. I was informed that I was going "home". I said "Really?" knowing that this means that you are being put on a plane and deported. I got my things together and read. A little before 10p.m. a police woman came to get me and escorted me out to an unmarked, white police van. I was driven to Ben Gurion Airport to a police detention area/warehouse and dragged by my arm to the door. I said "What kind of a democracy is this? I have a legal right to appeal this deportation order and you are nonetheless illegally trying to deport me."
I went through airport security and was put in a room with at least one police officer present at all times. I read and walked, which I had not been able to do for a week, and learned that I was on a KLM flight to Seattle via Amsterdam at 5:40 a.m. I waited from midnight until 5:15 am when I was called to go. I was driven to the plane and escorted by a police officer up the stairs to the door of the plane, and then he left.
I immediately informed the 3 flight attendants at the door that I was being forced on the plane against my will and that I had no intention of co-operating in any way. "I will not be sitting down. I will not be putting on my seatbelt and I will not be turning off my electronic devices. I will go to the extent of screaming and yelling if I have to. The faster you get me off this plane, the less problems you'll have."
One flight attendant asked why and I explained that I was being denied my legal right to appeal a deportation order.
I then spoke to the pilot and repeated my story, explained the situation, and he asked how he could call the police back. When they came, they insisted that I wasn't being deported, that there was no stamp in my passport, that I wasn't being clever and that I just needed to get on the plane and go. I declined again, even with their threats of putting me on the next plane "in handcuffs with a police man and a gun next to you" and so we returned to the detention area. A few calls were made and I was sent back to Hadera prison where I went to sleep after turning over my phones and jewelry and undergoing another strip search.
I was woken at 11:30 and told by a police woman that I was going to walk, to be free. I simply didn't believe it in my sleepy daze and thoughts began racing through my mind. I was only told that I was going home and to come back downstairs after lunch. I read, wondered about what the police really intended to do and fell back to sleep before being woken again and called downstairs. I was allowed to take my jewelry and to make a phone call to someone to pick me up. I got my things together and came back down, was let out through the padlocked door of iron bars and escorted out to the gate. I saw my lawyer and for the first time really registered that I was going to be free.
Subsequently I have learned that there was never any appeal from the Minister of Interior. My release was granted because the original terms the judge named during the Tuesday hearing were fulfilled. Eli (the police officer) had lied. There is also no trace of an arrest warrant which means that I was unlawfully arrested. I am going to file a civil suit against the State of Israel for damages and I also contesting the deportation order.
I would like to know a few things. Why was I detained and subsequently arrested while doing nothing more than walking across a checkpoint? Why did the State of Israel disregard its own laws, lie, and attempt to get me out so quickly by buying a $750 plane ticket within a week, when the women I was with in prison frequently wait a month or two for money for a ticket?
"Why do they want you out?" Someone asked me during the last few days and I said "That is exactly what I would like to know. Why is a completely non-violent American peace activist so incredibly threatening to the State of Israel?"
I would never have been released if it weren't for many incredibly special people. I have been overwhelmed by the support and the efforts of hundreds. There are no words that could accurately capture my gratitude and simply no way to say thank you.
And Finally... 6. Midnight Call to US Embassy Comes Up Trumps
Two American nationals staying at a protected house in Rafah, the Gaza Strip expressed pleasant surprise when a midnight call to the US embassy resulted in a halt to the military attack on the house they were staying at late last night.
Machine gun fire had been clearly audible over the phone line when the initial call was made to the International Solidarity Movement media centre, and the two ISM peace volunteers reported being uncomfortably close to rockets and tank shells that were being fired.
The couple had used a loud speaker to inform the IDF forces that they were US citizens, but it had no effect.
When, in the first place, the media centre had called and explained the situation on the Embassy's emergency line, a rather bizarre question was asked.
"Huh, can't this wait till the morning?"
The answer was that by that time, the two people in the house might be dead if the assault continued, so your intrepid media co-ordinator gave an emphatic no.
But when the case was passed on to the US Military Attaché, the two Americans were delighted to report that good support was given, and the official promised to ask the military to cease their attack, which they did, within minutes.
"He was a cool guy," said one of the