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Hebron: Israeli military abducts Palestinian mayor

From: Peace Movement Aotearoa
4 September 2006

Hebron: Israeli military abducts Palestinian mayor

We have just received an update to New Zealander Christina Gibbs' interview with Farhan Alqam, Mayor of Beit Ommar, last month - see 'Another face of Hamas' at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/hb070806.htm Alqam was abducted by Israeli soldiers on 24 August, and is being held without charge, as outlined in the report below.

Beit Ommar, Hebron district - At 2am Thursday, August 24, Miriam (Im Musa) Alqam heard loud knocking on the door. She feared soldiers were coming to take her husband. She was right. Israeli soldiers who had come in six jeeps surrounded the family home in the farming village of Beit Ommar.

The children, ages four to fourteen, were still sleeping when the soldiers took their father away in his night clothes, refusing his request to use the bathroom or to get a change of clothes from his closet.

Farhan Alqam (Abu Musa) is the mayor of Beit Ommar. He is the most recent of the Hamas elected officials to be abducted by the Israeli army and imprisoned without charges.

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) members Christina Gibb, John Lynes, and Dianne Roe visited the Alqam family two days later. Eleven year-old Musa told CPT that when he got up in the morning and saw his uncle, he knew something was wrong. He asked his uncle if Israeli soldiers had arrested his father. His uncle answered, "Yes."

Musa added, "Most children in the world have fathers who can take them places. Our fathers are taken to prison."

Three weeks earlier, August 3, 2006, at CPT's request, Mayor Farhan had hosted thirty internationals representing several different Christian organizations visiting Israeli and Palestine. Tracy Hughes, CPT member who brought a delegation from Common Global Ministries, expressed shock when she heard of the arrest. "The mayor clearly stated his belief in non-violence as a way to find a solution to the problems."

Mayor Farhan had shared with the visiting internationals the difficulties his village faced because of the American and Israeli sanctions on the Palestinian Authority.

At the time of his arrest Mayor Alqam was in the process of inviting former President Jimmy Carter to visit Beit Ommar. President Carter and his wife Rosalyn visited the village in the early 1980s. Beit Ommar named one of its quarters after Jimmy Carter.

CPT members in Hebron are very sad about the mayor's imprisonment. "CPT has had a relationship with Beit Ommar for ten years,"said long-term CPTer Dianne Roe. "This mayor was working for peace alongside Israelis and internationals." [Report by Dianne Roe, Christian Peacemaker Teams Hebron, 27 August 2006.]

ENDS

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