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Israel: Peace Activist Arrested

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    Our son is an Human Rights Observer Statement From Andrew s Parents telrumeidaproject.org Thursday 24th November 2005: A Human Rights Observer from the UK was
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 4, 2005
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      Our son is an Human Rights Observer

      Statement From Andrew's Parents
      telrumeidaproject.org

      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
      Rumeida.

      "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
      "twenty thousand".

      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
      courage.

      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
      lives."

      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:
      www.palsolidarity.org
      www.cpt.org

      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
      Settler Violence

      • 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
      settlers.

      • 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
      lawlessness.

      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
      such "order."

      - 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
      http://www.pchrgaza.org


      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
      by IOF.

      · 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[1] 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.

      Summary

      Israeli violations of international law continued in the Occupied
      Palestinian Territory (OPT) during the reporting period (17 – 23
      November 2005).

      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
      girl.

      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
      Hebron.


      The full report is available online

      html format:
      http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/W_report/English/2005/24-11-2005.htm
      pdf format:
      http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/W_report/English/2005/pdf/weekly%20report%2045.pdf

      *********************************************************************

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