Saturday, 9 July 2011

12 UK citizens going to Bethlehem - many retired - are handcuffed, shackled and detained

(Pippa Bartolotti, 57, deputy leader of the Wales Green Party, one of the 12 arrested, can be seen being interviewed in this video from Russia Today)

Twelve British people have been detained in Israel while making an attempt to visit the West Bank town of Bethlehem, according to campaigners.

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which was co-ordinating the British arm of the visit, said its chairman Mick Napier, 64, a university teacher, was amongst four Scots arrested at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport.

The flight also included five English and three Welsh people.

The campaign said the specific charges against them is still unclear. Around 700 people from around the world had intended to visit Bethlehem on the invitation of families there.

Sofiah Macleod, the UK-based contact for the campaign, said: "I spoke to consular staff this morning who told me that the arrest was quite rough. They were all handcuffed and shackled and put into vans after standing around for quite a long time, and you can see from their ages that a lot of them are retired. Otherwise they`re all fine."

She said that travel to the West Bank is theoretically open to British passport holders, unlike Gaza which is currently under Israeli blockade.

Frank Thomas, 66, a retired statistician from Edinburgh; Ian Stewart-Hargreaves, who lives on Isle of Lewis; and Joy Cherkaoui, a community worker from Dumfries and Galloway, were also amongst the Scots.

The English passengers were John Lynes, 83, a retired university lecturer from East Sussex; Audrey Gray, 77, a retired nurse from West Chiltington; Val Kitchen, 68, from Tonbridge; Anne Gray, 66, a retired academic from London; and Les Levidow, 61, an Open University research fellow who works in Milton Keynes.

The three Welsh passengers were Pippa Bartolotti, 57, deputy leader of the Wales Green Party; Dee Murphy, 56, from Swansea, founder member of Swansea Palestine Community Link; and Joyce Giblin. The twelfth passenger Fiona Williams has also been identified as British, although her exact nationality is unknown.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We have received reports of a number of British nationals being detained at the airport in Tel Aviv. We have a consular team at the airport who are seeking access to them to ensure that we can provide the appropriate assistance." PA

Israeli project seeks to challenge 'strategic threat' of pro-Palestine social media - cites iGaza

The iGaza iPhone app is in the news - it gets a shout-out in a story on the Jerusalem Post site about a project aiming to catch up with what two pro-Israel developers admit is the more social-media savvy pro-Palestine effort.
A pilot project, Like For Israel is designed to be a tool for pro-Israel activists around the world, regardless of political views, to connect, share information and meet.

The pair says they launched after noticing an absence of pro-Israel supporters and activists in worldwide social media circles. If there was any voice at all, they say, it was disorganized and disengaged from other sources.

That disconnect, Hachamov says, was reflected in what he finds is a growing voice in support of the deligitimization of Israel. "We feel as social media guys, it's not ... equal currently between what Israel hasbara is doing, and what the Palestinians are doing."...

...The prevailing notion of delegitimization "is really a strategic threat,"

...Hachamov takes his hat off to Palestinian supporters, who he says are adept at promoting their message through social media. "They're doing great stuff recently," he says. He gave the example of iGaza, an app developed for iPhone. more

120 fly-in activists to be detained for up to 48 hours while others join West Bank protests

Immigration and Population Authority officials told Haaretz on Saturday evening that all foreign pro-Palestinian 'fly-in' activists who were refused entry into Israel over the past few days would be deported back to their home countries within 48 hours.

At this point, there are 120 detained activists. Eighty-five are being detained at the Givon facilty in Ramle and the rest are being held at the Ela detention facility...

...Leftist organizations said that a number of 'fly-in' activists succeeded in entering Israel and participated on Saturday in small demonstrations at the Qalandiya checkpoint and in East Jerusalem. more

French flotilla boat Dignity allowed to leave Crete - activists say they're still heading for Gaza

From JPost

The French flotilla ship Dignity was allowed to leave a Greek port in Crete on Saturday after having been detained by the Greek coast guard while refueling on Thursday.

While the Greek coastguard said Dignity's destination was the island of Rhodes, an activist on board said the ship still planned on sailing for the Gaza Strip.

"Our final destination is Gaza, we hope that we will reach that destination, but for the time being we are sailing within the Greek waters," one of ten pro-Palestinian activists aboard Dignity said.

Dignity had been sitting in international waters all week waiting for the other nine ships in the flotilla to join it. The flotilla ships hoped to break the blockade on the Gaza Strip, but Athens has imposed a departure ban on all Gaza-bound ships on safety grounds.

Eight ships remain blocked in Greek ports while a ninth sits in need of repair in a Turkish port after claims of sabotage. more

Clashes at march marking anniversary of international court ruling against Israel's apartheid wall

Ramallah - PNN – Clashes occured today at noon between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers near the Kalinda checkpoint, south of Jerusalem, after activists began a march advocating nonviolent activities against the Israeli occupation.

The demonstration marks the anniversary of the High Court decision against Israel building the separation wall.The march started from Kalinda refugee camps opposite the military checkpoint between Ramlaah and Jerusalem. Several internationals insisted on attending as the march begins a string of demonstrations and action that will last one week.

The protestors say they are fighting the wall and discrimination and also asking the world to implement the High Court's decision. The coordinator of the campaign, Jamal Joma, told PNN that this week of demonstrations are to tell the world that “they should help break the siege, implement the International Court of Justice decision, and stop their silence against Israeli aggression.” Joma expects that the Israeli army will respond to the protests aggressively, because this is what usually happens.

Joma believes the Israeli authorities are angry because of the concurrent campaigns led by the Gaza flotilla and the arrival of pro-Palestinian activists at Ben-Gurion airport. He added, "the International Solidarity Movement is an important movement in the struggle against the Israeli occupation because it gives the real image of the occupation.” He assured that he and his peers would continue the struggle despite the Israeli decision forbidding internationals to enter in the Palestinian territories.

Joma added finally that this Israeli opposition will increase the amount of people sympathetic to solidarity as it show that nonviolent resistance is the right way to defeat Israel’s occupation. PNN

Israel's latest recruit in its war against the Palestinian people is Facebook

If you were wondering how Mossad and the Israeli foreign office have managed to improve (sort of) on their clumsy and inept intelligence gathering and propaganda so quickly, especially in regard to the drawing up of the 'blacklist' of people to be prevented from reaching occupied Palestine, it's because they are being helped by Facebook. We humbly suggest the obvious: be careful what you post on Facebook.
From Canada's The Star

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL—Aided by Facebook, Israel on Friday prevented scores of pro-Palestinian activists from boarding Tel Aviv-bound flights in Europe, questioned dozens more upon arrival at its main airport and denied entry to 69, disrupting their attempts to reach the West Bank on a solidarity mission with the Palestinians.

Israel had tracked the activists on social media sites, compiled a blacklist of more than 300 names and asked airlines to keep those on the list off flights to Israel. On Friday, 310 of the activists who managed to land in Tel Aviv were detained for questioning, said Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Hadad. Of those, four were immediately put on return flights and 65 were being held until flights home could be arranged for them, she said. The rest were permitted entry, she said.

At one point during the operation, two planes from Geneva and Rome were diverted to a secluded area of the airport upon landing and boarded by security.

Organizers of the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign accused Israel of overreacting to what they said is a peaceful mission to draw attention to life under Israeli occupation, including travel restrictions. Israel controls all access to the West Bank.

“This was never about demonstrations at airports. We are on a fact-finding mission. We want to understand what’s going on,” said Pippa Bartolotti, a 57-year-old British activist from Wales.

She said she was the only member of a 40-member group on a flight from Britain who managed to enter Israel. “Unfortunately everybody else is in a holding bay and expected to be deported,” she said. “There are people from Belgium, France and the U.K.” more

Troops break up Palestinian protests supporting flotilla, fly-in and against apartheid wall

WEST BANK, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces (IOF) cracked down Friday on rallies across the West Bank marking the anniversary of the ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague stipulating the removal of the Israeli apartheid barrier.

In Nabi Saleh village northeast of Ramallah, locals showed support for the Freedom Flotilla II ships, which were intercepted by European forces and prevented from setting sail to challenge Israel's siege of the Gaza Strip.

The IOF violently quelled the march using tear gas, with dozens to sustain breathing difficulties. But the marchers managed to progress towards the soldiers and break the security cordon on the village.

The IOF had closed off the village and nearby areas since early morning and set up checkpoints. Four Palestinians were arrested there, and dozens of Palestinians and pro-Palestinian activists were arrested at blockades at Atara and Nabi Saleh.

Media and medics were prevented from entering the village after it was declared a closed military zone.

The popular resistance committee in Nabi Saleh said the marches also protested against several European countries banning activists from boarding planes to Tel Aviv to show support for the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, locals and pro-Palestinian foreigners rallied in Bil'in village to mark the seventh anniversary of The Hague ruling and to celebrate freeing land confiscated by Israel through the apartheid barrier.

The marchers headed out to the freed lands and were met by Israeli soldiers stationed behind the west side of the wall. The protesters carried out volunteer work and reclaimed lands and constructed on them and collected tear gas canisters.

Thanks to the Palestinian Information Center

Israel awards prize to Calanit tank shell used to target civilians on Gaza border

The Israeli Defense Ministry awarded the “Israel Defense Prize” to the Calanit artillery tank shell, a new type of shell which has been deployed in tanks stationed along the Israel-Gaza border.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak awarded the prize, with President Shimon Peres looking on.

According to the Israeli military, the Calanit artillery shell “reduces the chance for human error” when firing from tanks stationed on the border with Gaza.

In the award ceremony, military official Danny Peretz praised the shell, saying, “In this new reality we must hurt the people themselves, the enemy, who know where to hide.”

Israeli forces have declared a ‘kill zone’ that varies between 50 and 300 meters from the border on the Gaza side, depending on who is on duty. Farmers, children and mentally-disabled individuals have all been targeted in cross-border attacks by Israeli tank squads. more

100 flytilla activists evade Israel/Europe 'pass laws' and enter West Bank to support Palestinians

From Ynet News

After hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists blocked at European airports, 124 detained in Israel and face deportation, Ynet learns dozens have managed to reach PA territories.

Hundreds of the pro-Palestinian activists who tried to fly to Israel in recent days were blocked in Europe and dozens were arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport, but it turns out that some of them have managed to evade the police and reach the Palestinian Authority territories.

Palestinian sources told Ynet that some 50 foreign activists who landed in Israel on Friday have already entered the West Bank. On Saturday they are expected to travel to the village of Bilin and the Qalandiya Checkpoint in a bid to reach Jerusalem.

"We know there are additional activists making their way to Israel, and they may arrive tonight," Fadi Katan, one of the fly-in's Palestinian organizers, told Ynet on Friday night.

He said the 50 activists joined 50 others who had already entered the West Bank over the past week. Ynet

Islamic Movement in Israel's leader Sheikh Ra'ad Salah loses appeal, still detained by UK

Sign petition below demanding Sheikh Ra'ad Salah's release.

From Haaretz

A London court on Friday denied the appeal of Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel.

Salah was arrested in England in late June after he entered the country despite an exclusion order barring him from the United Kingdom. A deportation order was issued subsequently. Salah remains in detention because he refused to comply with the order.

Salah appealed his arrest and the order that bars him from entering the UK. He demanded that he be released immediately and unconditionally and be allowed to continue to his visit in the UK.

The appeal was denied and he will remain in detention until an additional appeal, which is expected to be filed next week.

Salah's attorney and spokesman Zahi Nujeidat told Haaretz that "the Sheikh is insisting on his right to fight the arbitrary decision by the British government to deport him and therefore he has decided to remain in detention and wait for the appeals proceeding." more

Please sign this petition which we plan to hand in to the Home Secretary for the release of Shaykh Salah.

We the undersigned:

  • Call for the immediate release of Shaykh Raed Salah
  • Call upon the Home Secretary to drop the deportation charges
  • Consider Shaykh Raed Salah a human rights activist
  • Call upon Home Secretary to allow him to refute and/or challenge the accusation levelled against him in court