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Int. Solidarity Movement Update


Int. Solidarity Movement Update

1. Brian Avery seeks justice over shooting 2. Italian activist hospitalised from settler violence 3. Join the Tali Fahima campaign

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1. Brian Avery to appear before Israeli Supreme Court

American human rights activist, Brian Avery, has arrived in Israel seeking justice from the Supreme Court after being critically wounded by Israeli soldiers when they shot him in the face almost two years ago.

Avery, 26, from North Carolina was standing on a street with his hands in the air in the West Bank town of Jenin in April 2003 when soldiers fired a bullet into his face, shattering his jaw and nose. He has been in rehabilitation, undergone a series of facial reconstruction surgeries and required ongoing medical attention since.

On Monday, Avery's attorney, Michael Sfard, will petition the Israeli Supreme Court to open a criminal investigation into the case. To date, there has been no such investigation.

On arrival to Tel Aviv yesterday, Avery said he was guarded but hopeful about his chances.

"I have the expectation the court will authorise an investigation and find out who was responsible for trying to kill me," he said.

"Justice is the ultimate goal.

"I want to show the Israeli officials I am serious about this and I'm here to ask them to do their job.

"People need to be held accountable."

Four other international activists, from Denmark and Sweden who witnessed the shooting testify that Brian, along with another ISM activist, was standing under a street lamp on a quiet, empty street. He was wearing a high visibility medic vest with his hands in the air, clearly indicating he was an unarmed international.

An Israeli armoured personnel carrier approached slowly and without warning opened heavy fire from a range of just 10 metres and then carried on driving.

The Israeli army conducted an internal command inquiry and concluded there was no evidence that Brian was hit by shots fired by Israeli soldiers.

The inquiry did not include testimonies from the eyewitnesses and relied entirely on the testimonies of Israeli soldiers.

In other cases, Israeli military internal command inquiries absolved the army, but subsequent military police investigations uncovered incriminating evidence and serious charges were brought.

This was also the case in the killing of British ISM activist, Tom Hurdnall, who was fatally shot in Rafah six days after Brian's injury. The internal command inquiry ruled that Tom was shot because of the presence of a Palestinian militant in his vicinity. The criminal investigation of the military police discovered that the soldier who fired the fatal shot and another soldier had lied in the internal inquiry.

As a result, charges of killing and interfering with the investigative procedure were brought.

All requests made on behalf of Brian for a police criminal investigation into his shooting have received no response.

For more information: Attorney Michael Sfard 972(0)54-471-3930, ISM Media 972 (0) 54-762-1529

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2. Young Italian Conscientious Objector Hospitalized As a Result of Injuries from Settlers Trial Begins for One of the Settlers Arrested for Attack

Johannes Steger, an Italian human rights activist attacked by settlers while accompanying a group of Palestinian shepherds in At- Tuwani village, is now recovering in an Italian hospital from injuries sustained in the attack.

Steger, a volunteer with Operation Dove, now has his jaws wired shut, has a torn retina, and is suffering from amnesia about the events of the attack.

The trial of one of the settlers from Havat Ma'on arrested over the attack on February 16 began on Tuesday February 22 at Beer Sheva Court. The court heard the testimonies of the two international volunteers who witnessed the attacks.

At Ben Gurion airport before Johannes Steger returned to Italy, he was forced to stand for one hour as he underwent a security check which included a body inspection, despite the fact that he showed the authorities medical papers detailing his conditions.

In the days following the attack, Israeli peace groups (Ta'ayush, B'tselem, Machsom Watch, Rabbis for Human Rights) ISM and other international volunteers condemned the actions of the settlers and many participated in demonstrations close to the settlement of Havat Ma'on.

On several occasions, the military has declared the area a closed military zone, making it impossible for Palestinians to use this land. Settlers, however, are still allowed to use the land.

Also, on February 21, the Israeli government approved a new route for the wall in the South Hebron Hills, moving the wall to the Green Line. As a result, all the settlements in the area will remain in the West Bank. This will increase tensions between settlers and the State of Israel, which also affects the relationship between settlers and the Palestinian people.

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3. Appeal to allow imprisoned peace activist Ms. Tali Fahima out of solitary confinement.

You are invited to join an appeal by supporters of Israeli peace activist, Tali Fahima, to lobby for her release from solitary confinement, details below.

"We appeal to women and men of conscience worldwide, especially members of the medical, psychiatric and legal professions, on behalf of Ms Tali Fahima, an Israeli peace activist whose conditions of imprisonment in prolonged isolation (since August 2004) threaten her long-term well-being.

Having closely followed her case, we strongly believe that the legal grounds for her detention and prosecution are insubstantial and verge on the ridiculous. We believe it is used to deter Israeli and international peace activists who seek direct contacts with Palestinians in grassroots activities. See a website with relevant information at http://www.freetalifahima.org/eng.php?lang=en

On January 24, 2005, the Tel Aviv District Court ordered that Ms Fahima be released into house-arrest. This ruling was reversed by the Supreme Court, a move which was sharply denounced by many commentators, including an editorial article in the elite daily Haaretz, which said: "Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein's decision to place Tali Fahima under arrest until the completion of proceedings against her…is unreasonable and disproportional…" (Feb. 6, 2005). Ms. Fahima is being held in Neveh Tirza Women's Prison in complete isolation by the decision of the prison authorities. Her next court hearing was scheduled for July 17, 2005!

These conditions constitute vindictive harassment.

Concerned about the effects of imprisonment under conditions of total isolation on Ms Fahima, we appeal for your intervention so that her conditions in prison are normalized in accordance with accepted Israeli and international standards.

To join this appeal, please send a message to NoToSolitaryConfinement@hotmail.com

Any statement you wish to add to your signature would be greatly appreciated. Feel free to forward this information to whoever you believe would be interested."


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