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Israel to bar activists from entering country

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    Israel to bar pro-Palestinian activists from entering country By Amos Harel and Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondents and Agencies Ha aretz - May 2, 2003
    Message 1 of 1 , May 3, 2003
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      Israel to bar pro-Palestinian activists from entering country

      By Amos Harel and Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondents and Agencies

      Ha'aretz - May 2, 2003


      Israel will from now on bar pro-Palestinian activists from entering
      the country and will try to expel at least some of the dozens of
      activists who are already here, according a new plan drafted by the
      Israel Defense Forces and the foreign and defense ministries.

      Most of the activists, who come from Europe, Canada and the United
      States, belong to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).

      Their goal is to act as "human shields" for Palestinian individuals
      and houses during IDF incursions into Palestinian towns, and they
      have often been involved in confrontations with IDF soldiers. They
      also try to help Palestinians pass through IDF roadblocks.

      Some two months ago, an American ISM activist, Rachel Corrie, was run
      over and killed by an IDF bulldozer in Gaza. Her colleagues accused
      the bulldozer driver of having run her over deliberately. The IDF
      denies the accusation and decided not to indict the driver. In two
      other recent cases, international activists have been seriously
      injured by IDF gunfire during confrontations in the territories.

      Israel Radio on Friday quoted British news agencies as saying that
      the two men involved in the suicide bombing at Mike's Place in Tel
      Aviv late Tuesday night had entered Israel earlier in the day in a
      cab that passed through the Erez Crossing. The two had taken part in
      actions carried out by peace activists in the Gaza Strip.

      In the first sign of the new crackdown, a member of ISM was detained
      by Israeli troops in the southern Gaza refugee camp Rafah on

      Military sources said the woman activist was sleeping in a house
      suspected of concealing one of the tunnels used by militants to
      smuggle arms from nearby Egypt, and her case was being handled by the
      Foreign Ministry.

      Foreign Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment
      and the ISM said it would release a statement later in the day on the
      new Israeli measures.

      IDF accuses 'riot inciters'

      The IDF charges that many of the self-proclaimed peace activists are
      "provocateurs" and "riot inciters" who deliberately interfere with
      the IDF's work, with the goal of blackening Israel's image. Army
      sources noted that in one case, they discovered a wanted terrorist
      being hidden by ISM activists in Jenin. The sources said the
      activists received training overseas in how to deceive border control
      officials at Ben-Gurion International Airport in order to be allowed
      into the country.

      Furthermore, both the army and the Foreign Ministry fear that
      additional foreign citizens might be killed or wounded by the IDF if
      the ISM's activities are allowed to continue.

      Wednesday's bombing in Tel Aviv, which was committed by two men who
      entered Israel on British passports, added a new reason to the
      authorities' desire to clamp down on the foreign activists - fear
      that other terrorists from overseas might enter the country under the
      guise of peace activists.

      IDF and Foreign Ministry officials held another meeting on the
      subject this week and decided to instruct border control officials at
      Ben-Gurion and the land crossings with Egypt and Jordan to bar
      foreign activists from entering the country. In addition, IDF
      officers who encounter such activists in closed military areas will
      be ordered to arrest them, after which they will be deported.

      On Thursday, the IDF arrested a foreign activist during its search
      for arms smuggling tunnels in the Gazan town of Rafah. Army sources
      said the woman was inside a house that was slated for demolition. The
      woman was later released and allowed to remain in the country, though
      she was barred from returning to Gaza.
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