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Farmers / Internationals Arrested For Harvesting

Farmers / Internationals Arrested For Harvesting

[JAYYOUS, Qalqiliya] Two Palestinian farmers and two Swedish peace activists were arrested this afternoon by Israeli soldiers in a campaign of harassment against farmers insisting on their right to access their land.

This morning, after Israeli soldiers announced that they would again, for the fifth day in a row, not allow farmers to access their land, dozens of Palestinian farmers, joined by 40 international and Israeli peace activists, broke through the gate that divides the people of Jayyous from their farmland and poured into the olive groves to harvest. Coming out of their fields, every farmer was stopped, his/her identity card taken by heavily armed Israeli soldiers, and the farmer forced to wait. One of the farmers, Imad Abdelkader Khalid, who tried to explain to the soldiers that he was needed urgently at home was verbally and physically abused by a soldier, who after firing his M16 rifle over Imad's head, put him on his knees, handcuffed and blindfolded him.

A dozen of the peace activists who were monitoring the situation from the other side of the fence because they weren't being let through were all threatened with arrest and further detainment of the Palestinians if they did not move away. The soldiers gave the internationals 10 seconds to retreat but as they started walking back, the soldiers rushed through the gate and grabbed Marthen Gunnarsson and Rickard Wickman, both Swedish citizens and volunteers with the International Solidarity Movement. The two peace activists were handcuffed, blindfolded and thrown into a military jeep.

When the soldiers decided that the farmers could all go home, the farmers refused to leave without Imad and sat on the ground. Two soldiers grabbed Samih Samha, a local farmer, and ISM peace activist and three soldiers went for Majdi Naji, an 18 year old farmer, who had spent the day harvesting with his mother. ISMer Huwaida Arraf, who was sitting with the farmers, grabbed hold of Majdi to try to cover and prevent him from being taken and both Huwaida and Majdi were dragged across the ground, before she managed to completely cover him. Majdi safely got away and Huwaida was dragged by three soldiers and thrown on the other side of the gate. Soldiers then began gassing the internationals, who were made up of men and women of all ages, including a number of elderly human rights workers; the soldiers laughed as they fired over 5 tear gas canisters at the group trying to ensure the s

At the time of this writing, 7 hours later, Samih, Morton, Rickard, and Imad have been released. But we still need your help!

The Israeli military produced an order today, that the farmers of Jayyous will not be able to pass through to their lands for the next 10 days - complete closure. Of course, this is completely random and can change, or be extended as the Israeli occupation sees fit. Is this what President Bush meant when he said that Palestinians should not suffer from this wall? Please write to your elected representatives!

Also, please bombard the Israeli District Coordinating Office (DCO) in the Qalqilya region (responsible for the schedule of the farmers' gates) with phone calls protesting this treatment of Palestinians farmers. Let them know that you are monitoring what they are doing and working to expose this brutal system of Apartheid and human rights abuses:

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