Tuesday, 21 January 2014

'Democracy' Israeli-style: Peaceful protest ends in deportation and imprisonment


On Saturday 18th January during a peaceful protest in the Jordan Valley, 19-year-old Ahmad Walid Atatreh, a Palestinian activist and 24-year-old Sven W, a German activist who lives in Switzerland, were arrested and beaten after a march held in Jiftlik Adam Junction. Ahmad is a law student, studying at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem.

The march in Jiftlik was organized in protest against a legislation bill recently approved in the Knesset to annex the Jordan Valley to the current state of Israel. While the Israeli government declares that the move is purely for security reasons, the large number of illegal agricultural settlements and theft of Palestinian water rights demonstrate that the motives are largely economic.

Almost 95% of the Jordan Valley lies in Area C, under full Israeli civil and military control. Palestinian Bedouin herders suffer repeated demolitions of their homes and animal shelters, and water tanks are frequently confiscated. A large section of the area is reserved as a firing zone and residents are often forcibly removed from their homes to make way for military exercises.

Approximately 60 people gathered in the Jordan Valley and began a protest holding banners and chanting against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. As the march ended, Israeli forces invaded the area and began to arrest Palestinian demonstrators. Sven W and a British volunteer succeeded in stopping the detention of a Palestinian youth and in the process were both arrested by the Israeli army.

The two international activists were violently pushed to the ground by an Israeli soldier and handcuffed. The British activist managed to escape detention, whilst Sven was blindfolded and forced to kneel on the ground.

One Israeli soldier purposefully pushed Sven’s face in dirty water before taking him behind a military jeep and repeatedly kicking him in the ribs. Ahmad was also beaten after his arrest and received injuries to his knee. The British activist received a similar assault before escaping detention.

During the arrests, Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition into the air, and on several occasions pointed their rifles at protesters’ faces.

Sven and Ahmad were blindfolded for 3 hours and were driven to an Israeli military base. While they were blindfolded, Israeli forces attempted to intimidate and frighten the activists by pointing guns in their faces.

At the military base Sven was told he was a “terrorist” and was arrested because he “threw stones”. more

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