Our son is an Human Rights Observer
Statement From Andrew's Parents
Thursday 24th November 2005: "A Human Rights Observer from the UK was
arrested in Tel Rumeida, Hebron earlier today. He had just finished
escorting Palestinian children to school."
This report appeared last week on the web-site of the International
Solidarity Movement (ISM) the movement dedicated to "non-violently
resist the overwhelming military occupation force" in Palestine.
Monday 18th August 2003: "A Scots peace activist is to be deported
from Israel after trying to stop soldiers blowing up and bulldozing
the house of a Palestinian family at a refugee camp near Nablus".
Report in The Herald, August 2003.
Our son Andrew Muncie was the `peace activist' of 2003, and also the
`human rights observer' arrested last week.
Two years ago, he had been arrested on the West Bank in Palestine. He
and Swede Andreas Koninek, a fellow member of the ISM, had chained
themselves to a pole in the house. "It was less likely they would blow
the house up if internationals were present," Andrew explained later.
They were deported after an unsuccessful appeal and told not to return
to Palestine (by the Israelis) for ten years.
On 18th August this year, two years exactly to the day of the report
from Nablus, Andrew flew out from London Gatwick via Prague, on his
way back to Palestine. He had gone out in 2003 to try and support the
ordinary Palestinians. The attempt had been cut short. He was still of
a mind to help them.
`Andrew MacDonald' was the name on his new passport. He had legally
changed his name. As `Andrew Muncie', he would have been stopped at
Tel Aviv airport. This in spite of the fact that Andrew Muncie had
committed no crime or offence when he had last been there. But the
plight of the Palestinians, whose dignity and forbearance in the face
of the constant erosion of their human rights, had awoken his concern
for justice and peace.
Andrew has been in Palestine for almost fifteen weeks now. But he will
be home soon. The Israeli authorities have finally identified him.
They do not want Human Rights Observers reporting on what is
happening. He is being deported again. But at the time of writing he
has been in detention for five days with no date set for his deportation.
When he went out in August this year, he had decided that he would
concentrate on capturing images of some of the injustices perpetrated
on Palestinians while at the same time helping them in less
confrontational situations than before. He attended peaceful
demonstrations against the great wall which the Israeli Government are
continuing to construct through Palestinian farmlands, towns,
villages, and business areas, effectively strangling and devastating
these communities. In spite of international calls from people of
conscience for the wall to be halted, Israel continues unrelentingly
destroying the livelihoods of tens of thousands.
The Israeli settlers, recently in the news loudly and bitterly
complaining as they were forced to leave the land in Gaza they had
occupied for some years, were all compensated by up to $400,000 for
each family. The Palestinians, on their land for some centuries, and
whose homes are demolished by the inexorable progress of the great
wall, whose lands are wrecked by bulldozers, whose access to their
land is made impossible by the huge barrier, receive nothing. Israel
may be a democracy, but injustice is the face shown to Palestinians.
Andrew went to Tel Rumeida, an area of Hebron, south of Jerusalem,
where the Palestinians live in a virtual hell caused by the daily
abuse of the 500 or so settlers who live in an enclave established
some few years ago in the Palestinian area of the city. Countless
instances of brutality to the dwindling Palestinian population were
recorded and photographed by Andrew and his colleagues, who lived in
an apartment in Tel Rumeida. They daily escorted Palestinian children
to and from school to try and protect them from the assaults of
settlers. Because of the extremely dangerous and cruel situation here,
the Tel Rumeida Project was established to try and protect the
Palestinians. (See their website telrumeidaproject.org) The
organisation Christian Peacemaker Teams also worked in an effort to
alleviate the plight of the Palestinians in Tel Rumeida. Like the ISM,
all are non-violent and peaceful.
The catalogue of violence against Palestinians and these Human Rights
Observers is staggering.
Andrew reported a typical incident on 27th October this year from Tel
"At around 1.20pm on Thursday the 27th of October I received a phone
call from one of the three internationals who had come to the aid of a
Palestinian schoolgirl near Qurtuba School, and who were now under
attack from a mob of settlers.
I made my way quickly to the end of Shuhada Street, stopping at the
soldiers' post there. On the right, a narrow stone staircase leads up
to a hillside path which leads to Qurtuba School. By this time the
three internationals and the Palestinian child had been removed from
the area by the police and army.
On one occasion during the next hour four settler children followed me
back along Shuhada Street, throwing stones at me. I was also spat at
and shoved in the chest by two 18 year old settler males. I was told
by the soldiers who were standing on the street that the Israeli Army
were unable to ensure my safety.
At 2.30pm I walked with three Palestinian women to the bottom of the
staircase, waiting until they had reached the top before I left.
Seconds after I turned to leave, I heard several loud crashes and
screams from the top of the staircase. I turned to see at least two
teenage settler girls who had jumped up from behind a wall next to the
path the Palestinian women were now on, throwing bottles and stones at
them. The women retreated several metres to the top of the staircase,
but were now effectively stranded there as four or five settler men
(one of whom was brandishing a power drill) had now approached the
bottom of the staircase.
I shouted to the soldiers to do something and went to join the women
who were still trapped at the top of the stairs, but out of range of
the missiles which continued to fly in their direction. The soldiers
remained standing on the street with the settler men.
Five Palestinian kids had now arrived at the bottom of the stairs, and
were being prevented from passing by the soldiers and settlers there.
As I made my way back down the stairs to join the kids, the settler
with the power drill began waving it in the air, shouting. He then
charged at the kids, chasing them away. The soldiers continued to
stand on the street.
Two police officers then arrived who despite requests to assist the
stranded women continued to do nothing for 10 minutes until the
settler girls who were throwing the rocks and bottles had left. They
then went up to the women to escort them along the path. The soldiers
continued to stand on the street."
This lack of protection for the Palestinian population means that mob
rule dictates the streets of Tel Rumeida.
Just over a week after this incident, Andrew was stopped and harassed
by eight soldiers of the Israeli occupation force. He and his
colleagues whom he phoned for help and who joined him on the street
near their apartment, were arrested and taken to the police station in
Hebron. They were falsely accused of assaulting an officer. The next
day, Judge Rafi Strauss said as he released them, "I would like to
express outrage and contempt for the behaviour of the police."
Andrew and his colleagues were in contact with several Members of the
Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, who expressed concern over the
abusive behaviour of the Israeli police.
However, it is the Palestinians who continue to suffer. And the HROs
who try to help.
Andrew was arrested last Thursday as he walked home.
According to the Israeli police, on Saturday 26th November, "Three
thousand settlers from around the West Bank and Israel have come to
the Palestinian city of Hebron `to show solidarity with the pioneers
of Hebron'." Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, estimated the number at
This report appeared on the ISM site: "Between 2pm and 5pm that day, a
hostile mob of between 100 and 150 of these Israeli settlers visiting
from outside Hebron besieged five Human Rights Observers inside their
apartment in Hebron. Palestinian families were besieged in their
homes. ISM and Tel Rumeida project volunteers alone recorded six
assaults on Palestinians and twelve assaults and five stonings on
HROs. The police were called on eight separate occasions and the army
four times, but most of the time they did not arrive."
As Andrew's parents, while sympathetic already to the plight of the
Palestinians, as any decent person must be, and fully supportive of
Andrew's actions throughout, we have become more aware, while keeping
abreast of his experiences in Palestine, of the depth of misery in
which the Palestinians are unjustly forced to live. We are proud of
him, and commend him and his colleagues for their moral and physical
Sadly, it is rare to see any mention in the media of the daily torture
of the Palestinian people. The only mention of Palestinians in the
press seems to be when a suicide bomber blows himself and others up.
The overwhelming majority of Palestinians need to live in peace and be
able to work unhindered towards a decent life.
As Unicef state on their website unicef.org/infobycountry/oPt.html
"The decline in the wellbeing and quality of life of Palestinian
children in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) over the past two
years has been rapid and profound. This is directly linked to the
violence and mobility restrictions children experience daily,
including death and injury to family and friends, damage to their
property, and the frustration and poverty they sustain through
stifling closures, curfews and home confinement. Children are paying a
heavy and disproportionate price for this conflict - many with their
With the international media largely ignoring the plight of the
Palestinians, the general public is not fully aware of the real and
terrible situation in Palestine. And so the terrorization continues of
a people without even any comment.
Web-sites to check for more information:
Joint Police, IDF, and Settler Campaign to Remove Human Rights Workers
from Tel Rumeida, Hebron
November 30th, 2005
Contact: Tel Rumeida Project - Luna Ruiz: +972 (0) 54 557 3154, Chelli
Stanley: +972 (0) 54 802 4841
From the moment the first international presence of Human Rights
Worker's (HRW's) came to live in Tel Rumeida, Hebron, in August, 2005,
to support Palestinians against settler violence, the IDF, police and
settlers in Tel Rumeida have used whatever means, legal or otherwise,
to prevent their work from continuing. Now Andrew Mcdonalnd, one of
the main long term organizers of the work in Tel Rumeida is awaiting
deportation at Abu Kabir Prison.
After the Gaza disengagement, Hebron settlers feel embattled, lacking
support, and in their relative weakness present even more of a danger
to Palestinian families and the HRW's who are their only protection
and advocates in the lawless, violent neighborhood of Tel Rumeida. The
presence of HRW's, as many Palestinian families tell the volunteers on
a daily basis as they offer tea on a cold day or invite them to their
homes to share a meal, is crucial. The settler's stated goal is to
expand the settlement in the face of the perceived threat of
evacuation. A settler spokesperson, Orit Struck, was quoted recently
as saying "the community's response to the sense that it has been
marked for expulsion is to expand Jewish settlement in Hebron." The
only way to expand is for more Palestinian families to leave. HRW's
are there at a crucial time to prevent any expansion and to support
Palestinians who choose to stay in Tel Rumeida where mere existence is
a great act of resistance.
Police and IDF Illegal Refusal to Protect Palestinians and HRW's from
Police fail to respond to phone calls for assistance from HRW's or
Palestinians when settlers attack. When police do respond, they often
do nothing, refuse to stop settlers from attacking and do not arrest
Police make Palestinians and HRW's wait for 3 to 4 hours on average
to place complaints against settler violence. Police do not act on
complaints that are placed against settlers by Palestinians and HRW's.
Police capitulation to settler intimidation. Police often claim to
be frightened of settler violence and choose to remove themselves from
the conflict area to protect themselves, creating a de-facto state of
Details of Police, IDF and Settler Campaign to Remove Human Rights
Workers from Tel Rumeida, Hebron
- Beginning in September, the IDF began the illegal use of Closed
Military Zone orders issued only against HRW's with the sole purpose
of removing HRW's from Tel Rumeida. The orders kept HRW's effectively
under house arrest, going so far as attempting to arrest HRW's simply
for leaving their house to buy food. Rather than preventing settlers
from attacking Palestinian families and children, as they are required
to by law, the IDF sought to remove the only protection and advocates
Palestinian families have in the area. The illegal use of the orders
stopped only when Gabi Lasky, the lawyer for the HRW's, wrote a letter
challenging the use of the orders to the Attorney General of Israel
and the Attorney General of the Occupied Territories.
- On September 9, after multiple settler attacks, which soldiers did
nothing to stop, and on the same day that Closed Military Zone orders
began to be issued which kept HRW's effectively under house arrest for
three consecutive days, the Kiryat Arba police detained HRW's, took
them to the police station and lied, inventing a new "order" that said
that the HRW's were no longer allowed to live in Tel Rumeida and would
have to vacate their house that same day. HRW's did not believe or
submit to this lie and intimidation and refused to leave their home in
Tel Rumeida. HRW's later learned that there was, in fact, never any
- On multiple occasions, when HRW's called Hebron police to report a
settler attack in progress, police arrived and rather than stopping
the settler attack, harassed and threatened HRW's with arrest and
refused to protect them or Palestinians from settlers.
- On October 24, police forced a neighbor who lives in the same
building as the HRW's to come to their apartment to convince them to
let the police and army inside. The police officer, Hussein Nabia,
further threatened the neighbor that if he did not have the HRW's move
out of their apartment by 2PM the next day (even though the police
knew that the neighbor is not the owner of the building) that the army
and police would make life very difficult for him and his family.
Officer Nabia, came back the next day, four separate times, looking
for the neighbor. Officer Nabia pointed his video camera at the
neighbor and repeatedly screamed at him to say on camera that he did
not want the HRW's living in the apartment. He also tried to force the
neighbor to go to the police station to file a complaint saying that
the HRW's were living in the apartment against his will. The neighbor
refused to cooperate with any of the police's requests.
- On November, 8 the police arrested four HRW's on the false charge of
assaulting a soldier. This charge was made only after the police
altered their story and the charges multiple times. Judge Rafi Strauss
reprimanded the police saying, "I would like to express outrage and
contempt for the behavior of the police
"should be seen in a very
severe light to hold the defendants in custody for long hours after
the interrogation was over." The HRW's were released from custody and
the police have not issued an indictment on these false charges.
- On November 24th Border Police came specifically looking for a HRW
who they wanted to deport. They knew that his visa had expired. When
they questioned him on the street he explained that he had made a
legal appointment with the Ministry of Interior to extend his visa. He
showed the Border Police proof of his appointment issued to him by the
Ministry of Interior. But the police took him and he is now awaiting
deportation. This same day, a commander of the IDF stopped a different
HRW and seemed surprised that she was there. He asked to see her
passport. He said he knew the status of her visa would not allow her
to be there. She showed the commander her proof of the appointment she
has to extend her visa. He noted the date of her appointment and said,
"No, you can't stay that long. We are not waiting that long." Then the
commander drove away.
Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations
in the Occupied Palestinian Territory - No. 45/2005
17-23 November 2005
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Launch More Attacks on Palestinian
Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)
· 4 Palestinian civilians were killed by IOF in the West Bank.
· One of the Victims was suffering from a psychological disorder.
· 2 of the victims were extra-judicially executed by IOF.
· 11 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were wounded
· IOF conducted 30 incursions into Palestinian communities in
the West Bank, focusing particularly on Jenin.
· Houses were raided and 35 Palestinian civilians, including 18
children, were arrested by IOF.
· 5 houses were transformed by IOF into military sites.
· IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT; they
have closed all border crossings of the Gaza Strip; they prevented at
least 1000 students from attending their school classes in the old
town of Hebron; and they arrested 4 Palestinian civilians, including a
child and a girl, at various checkpoints in the West Bank.
· IOF have continued to construct the Annexation Wall in the
West Bank; at least 438 dunums of Palestinian land in Bethlehem
were confiscated; IOF used force against demonstrations organized in
protest to the construction of the Wall and arrested two Israeli
solidarity activists; and IOF imposed severe restrictions on the
movement of Palestinian civilians near the Wall.
· Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian
civilians and property in the OPT; 6 houses were demolished in East
Jerusalem; IOF started to place a fence along the "Trans-Samaria"
road; and a new settlement post was established in Yatta village,
south of Hebron.
Israeli violations of international law continued in the Occupied
Palestinian Territory (OPT) during the reporting period (17 23
On 15 November 2005, an agreement regarding border crossings of the
Gaza Strip was concluded. This agreement serves to reinforce the de
facto control of IOF over the economy and movement of the population
of the Gaza Strip. The agreement allows IOF to monitor the border
crossings, which are the main artery to the economic, social and
cultural rights of the Palestinian civilian population. The absence
of actual Israeli military presence inside the Gaza Strip does not
mean that the Israeli military occupation has come to an end. The
field conditions in the Gaza Strip prove that IOF have continued to
control movement to and from the Gaza Strip. This agreement
reinforces the IOF control over, and occupation of the Gaza Strip,
which has not come to an end with the implementation of the
"Disengagement Plan" (for more details about this agreement, see
PCHR's press release issued on 16 November 2005, and the section of
this report on the siege imposed on the OPT). PCHR is concerned that
IOF may continue to perpetrate violations of international
humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to
the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
Killings: During the reported period, IOF killed 4 Palestinian
civilians in the West Bank. Two of the victims were extra-judicially
executed by IOF in Jenin, on 17 November 2005. IOF also killed a
Palestinian civilian in Hebron on 18 November 2005. The fourth victim
was killed by IOF during an incursion into Jenin on 23 November 2005.
In addition, 11 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were
wounded by IOF.
Incursions: IOF conducted 30 military incursions into Palestinian
communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, IOF raided
houses and arrested 35 Palestinian civilians, including 18 children.
IOF employed undercover units and trained dogs in these incursions.
IOF also transformed 5 houses into military sites.
Restrictions on Movement: IOF have continued to impose a comprehensive
siege on the OPT, in violation of civil, political, economic, social
and cultural rights of Palestinian civilians.
IOF have continued to impose a tightened siege on the Gaza Strip,
transforming it into a big prison. Rafah International Crossing Point
on the Egyptian border, the sole outlet for the Gaza Strip to the
outside world, has remained closed for over two months. An agreement
was reached regarding the operation of the crossing point. According
to media reports, the crossing point will be operated by the Egyptians
and Palestinians with the presence of a European force as a third
party, whose responsibilities have not been determined. Goods and
foreigners will not be able to travel through the crossing point,
rather they will travel through Kerem Shalom crossing point to the
southeast of Rafah. Israel insists on maintaining some authority at
Rafah International Crossing Point, including fixing cameras to
monitor the movement at the crossing and the handover of lists to the
Europeans of those Palestinians banned from travelling for alleged
security reasons, in order to ensure their ban. In the past weeks,
IOF allowed Palestinians to operate the crossing point for several
hours in order to solve the problem of those who had been trapped on
both sides of the crossing point. The continued closure of the
crossing point has deprived hundreds of Palestinian civilians of their
rights to education, health, work and social communication. In the
meantime, IOF have continued to restrict Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing
for Palestinian workers and patients. During the reported period, IOF
allowed several hundred workers to reach their work places in Israel,
while only a few patients suffering from serious diseases were allowed
to travel to Israeli hospitals through the crossing. IOF have also
continued to impose severe restrictions at commercial border
crossings. IOF have also imposed severe restrictions on fishing in
the Gaza Strip.
In the West Bank, IOF have imposed more restrictions on the movement
of Palestinian civilians. IOF have continued to prevent Palestinian
civilians living in Jenin from crossing Za'tara checkpoint, south of
Nablus, for more than 4 months. During the reported period, IOF
prevented schoolchildren in the old town of Hebron from reaching their
schools. During the reported period, IOF positioned at various
checkpoints arrested 4 Palestinian civilians, including a child and a
Annexation Wall: IOF have continued to construct the Annexation Wall
inside the West Bank, as the Israeli Defense Minsiter Shaul Mofaz
stated on 16 November 2005, that the Wall "must be completed." IOF
started to level land to construct a new section of the Wall in
'Aaboud village, northwest of Ramallah. The construction of this
section of the Wall is likely seize at least 5,330 dunums of land in
the village, including 3,887 dunums which will be isolated behind the
Wall. IOF razed 26 dunums of land belonging to the Municipality of
Bethlehem in the Joroun al-Hommos area, near a permanent IOF
checkpoint at the northern entrance of the town. During the reported
period, IOF handed military orders to Palestinian civilians
confiscating 94 dunums of land in Beit Jala town; 115 dunums in
al-Khader village; and 119 dunums in al-Walaja village, for the
purpose of the construction of a section of the Wall in the area. In
addition, IOF used force to disperse peaceful demonstrations organized
by Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli solidarity
activists in protest to the construction of the Wall. A number of
demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation and IOF arrested two
Israeli solidarity activists.
Illegal Settler Activities: Israeli settlers, in breach of
international humanitarian law, continue to reside in the OPT and have
launched a series of attacks against Palestinian civilians and
property. During the reported period, IOF started to place a fence on
both sides of the "Trans-Samaria" road. They also confiscated 9.5
dunums of land in Ya'bad village, southwest of Jenin, for "military
purposes." In East Jerusalem, IOF demolished 6 houses. Armed Israeli
settlers continued to establish a new settlement post to the south of
The full report is available online
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