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Israeli immigration denies entry to another Palestine peacemaker team member

CPTnet | December 12, 2013

On the night of December 5, 2013, Israeli immigration authorities denied entry to Patrick Thompson at the Allenby Bridge connecting Jordan to Occupied Palestine. Thompson was attempting to return for another stint on the team in Hebron. He initially told authorities that he was entering as a tourist, to visit Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Tel Aviv, and then points south, before re-entering Jordan. An Israeli official was concerned about his previous stay of four months in Israel.

After detailed questioning over a period of three hours and a search of his computer hard drive, authorities found a logo of CPT and told him they were denying him entry because he had lied to them. Thompson told them that he specifically did not mention his work with CPT or his destination as the West Bank because of the way Israeli authorities had treated many others when they volunteered this information willingly. Authorities denied entry to Jonathan Brenneman, another CPTer, in September, when he declared his membership in CPT and his plans to travel to Hebron. Thompson then waited another hour or so before the authorities officially denied him entry. When he boarded a bus to go back across the border into Jordan it was 1:30 a.m., a full six hours after his arrival at Israeli passport control.

Thompson is the fourth CPTer to whom Israel has denied entry this year. In addition to denying entry to Brenneman in September, authorities turned away two reservists in July because of stamps in their passports from their time with the Iraqi Kurdistan team—even though the Kurdish Regional Government has friendly relations with Israel.

December 12, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

SOUTH HEBRON HILLS: Despite court order, Israeli military intimidates villagers in ‘Firing Zone 918’

CPTnet | October 31, 2013

In spite of the Israeli Defense Minister’s acceptance of the mediation proposal by the Israeli High Court to find a solution with the Palestinians [in the region] about the Israeli military’s use of Firing Zone 918, the pressure of the army on the local inhabitants does not decrease.

According to eyewitnesses, on Sunday, 20 October more than 300 soldiers arrived at the Israeli military base close to the villages of Jinba and Mirkez.  Some of them invaded fields between the two Palestinian villages and camped there.  For all the week, they did military drills in the area and invaded the Palestinian villages.  During the drills, soldiers broke into the village of Jinba, entering into private properties, preventing some Palestinian shepherds from grazing their sheep on Palestinian fields, intimidating and scaring the inhabitants. On the nights of Thursday 24 and Friday 25, the soldiers trained around the Palestinian village of Halaweh.  On the night of Wednesday 23, the soldiers entered in the houses of the Palestinian village of Al Mirkez, ransacking homes.

Finally, on Sunday, 27 October, eight Israeli soldiers stopped and detained the Palestinian who drives the school transport jeep around Masafer Yatta for the Palestinian Ministry of Education.  Every day he accompanies the elementary schoolchildren on their way from several remote villages to their school in Al Fakheit village.  The soldiers forced the driver to get out of the car; then they questioned him.  Moreover, the soldiers shouted at him and insulted him, and beat him on his abdomen, face and back.  Later, they forced the driver to get in the car and drive on the spikes used at army checkpoints in order to puncture the tires.

Despite the fact that the Ministry of Defence accepted the mediation with the [South Hebron Hills] Palestinians proposed by High Court of Justice, the Israeli government is continuing its policy of threats against the Masafer Yatta inhabitants.

The Italian peace group Operation Dove lives and works in the South Hebron Hills village of At-Tuwani. Christian Peacemaker Teams, Operation Dove, and EAPPI share responsibility for accompanying a vehicle intended for the transport of school children into an area of the South Hebron Hills the Israeli military has designated as “Firing Zone 918.”  The Operation Dove report has been edited by CPT for clarity.

November 1, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: Trapping children

CPTnet | May 27, 2013

Because of the dire economic situation in the Old City in Hebron every day children go to the Ibrahimi Mosque soup-kitchen to get food. Walking out through the mosque checkpoint shortly after noon on Sunday 26 May, I was surprised by the number of people standing at the other end of the checkpoint.

Upon passing out through the checkpoint I realized that the turnstile to enter the mosque area was closed and nobody was being allowed through. A dozen young boys held plastic tubs of soup they had collected at the soup kitchen. They told us they had been waiting for around half an hour. As the queue of people wanting to get through increased, so did the boys’ frustration. They started ramming the turnstile and shouting to be let through. The Border Police ignored them. Women with babies lengthened the queue.

A man said the turnstiles had lost electricity. This seemed highly unlikely to me, though, as the lights were still on in the tunnel above the turnstile and I am sure there must be a backup in case of fire or other emergency. My suspicion was confirmed when Border Police allowed some of the young boys through only to turn the turnstiles off again and trap the boys in the middle between the two turnstiles. The Border Police repeated this twice, trapping young boys and women in a fenced corridor between the two turnstiles.

For me this highlights how vulnerable people are here. The Border Police won’t let members of Christian Peacemaker Teams through the checkpoint unless we take off our CPT hats. I find this very frustrating, but imagine visiting a soup kitchen and being stopped on your way back home by a young Border Policeman who doesn’t want to let you through the turnstile. A day can quickly turn from positive to negative. Nothing happened today, but one day it might. Imagine day after day being stopped and reminded how susceptible you are to the whims of another person literally preventing you from returning home.

The power imbalance between the children trying to get through the checkpoint and the Border Police stopping them is huge. The Border Policeman has the whole weight of the occupation behind him. Border Police officers do not make mistakes. If they shoot a youth they are praised, such as when the female Border Police officer shot 17-year-old Mohammed Salayme in Hebron in December 2012. If they arrest children and break international law, no one will penalize them.

As Gordon Levy explained in a 23 May Haaretz opinion piece, Border Police learn to behave rudely and to solve problems with weapons, and they are rewarded for doing so. But if Palestinian children get too rowdy at the checkpoint or respond in any way, they could easily end up in Israeli prisons, after enduring hours of interrogation with no lawyer, parent or guardian present.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): New report documents the loss of childhood

CPTnet | April 11, 2013

A newly released report compiled by internationals working in the West Bank city of Hebron documents an alarming rate of abuse of the rights of children. Human rights workers in H2, the portion of the city under Israeli military control, have witnessed 47 detentions or arrests of children age fifteen and under by soldiers since the start of February. Other violations documented in the report include conducting war training when children are present, delaying children and teachers as they pass checkpoints to access schools, detaining children in adult facilities, questioning children without the presence of an adult, and blindfolding children in detention.

Occupied Childhoods: Impact of the actions of Israeli soldiers on Palestinian children in H2 (Occupied Hebron) during February, March and April 2013 documents the alarming regularity of soldiers violating the rights of children to access education, to play, to have a parent, guardian or lawyer present when detained, and to move freely on their streets.

Documentation in the report was collected by three human rights organizations working in Hebron. Christian Peacemaker Teams, International Solidarity Movement, and Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Israel and Palestine all maintain teams in Hebron in order to provide protective presence and documentation in civilian neighborhoods.

The arrest on March 20, 2013, of 27 children outside a Hebron Elementary school has drawn attention to the extreme vulnerability of children living in occupied Hebron. Human rights workers in the city point out, however, that the mass arrest is far from an isolated event. All of the children in the neighborhoods in and around Hebron’s Old City must pass through military checkpoints to reach school, clinics and markets.

The report calls upon duty bearers to assure the human rights of children are respected. As Occupying Power the State of Israel is responsible for abiding by international law and for protecting the specific rights of children. Rights workers in Hebron call upon relevant UN agencies and non-governmental organizations to carry out their mandate by providing protection for children, and to pressure the State of Israel to change its policy vis-à-vis children in the Old City and H2.

In releasing the report, human rights workers in Hebron call upon consulates, churches and human rights organizations to formally protest the human rights crisis faced by children in Hebron and demand that the rights of children be protected.

Full report: http://cptpalestine.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/occupied-childhoods-impact-of-the-actions-of-israeli-soldiers-on-palestinian-children-in-h2-during-february-march-and-april-20131.pdf

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/94802096@N05/sets/72157633209785476/show/

Video links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/btselem/status/314395213185572864

April 11, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mass arrest of schoolchildren

CPTnet  | March 24, 2013

Twenty-seven Palestinian children, age seven to 15, were arrested while on their way to school in the West Bank city of Hebron. Three were detained for two days; twenty-four others were held for almost twelve hours.

The principal of the Hebron Public School reported that he was standing at the gate to his school at 7:30 a.m. when about 22 soldiers arrived and immediately began taking children from the street without speaking with the principal, teachers or the children. The street was full of children on their way to five area schools. Several adults arrived and tried to prevent the soldiers from taking the students but soldiers pulled the children away.

Israeli soldiers arrested 29 students, age seven to 15. They made them walk to checkpoint 29 and violently forced them into the jeeps. Some of the children reported injuries. The soldiers drove them to the police station near the Ibrahimi Mosque, brought 27 children inside and released two on a nearby road. They questioned the students without parents, a lawyer or teachers present and without permission from parents or other adults. Eight of the children were in grades one through four.

Obaida Babyeh, age 15, a student at the Ibrahimi School, was one of the two released near the station. He said, “We were passing to go to our school and they arrested us. The soldiers pushed us into the jeep, then they took us away from the school checkpoint. They hit me on my knee. Then the commander came and talked with them in Hebrew. The commander slapped me and my friend on the face and let us go.”

Teachers from the school came to the police station but were not allowed in. Soldiers told the teachers that they were checking the children against photographs and would release children whose photos they did not have.

At 2:00 p.m. soldiers released the eight youngest children and transported the remaining 19 to the Jabarah and Junaid military stations where they continued to question them. Some were questioned at both locations. The students were fingerprinted, photographed and questioned multiple times without the presence or consent of family, lawyers or teachers. Throughout the incident the children were held together with adult detainees.

Ahmad Abed Al Ra’aoof Sudky Burqan, age 14 and a student at Hebron public elementary school, said, “I was in a small store with my friend on our way to school. When we came out of the market to go to our school the soldiers grabbed us from behind. They took us to checkpoint 29, and then pushed us into the jeep. They took us to the first police station [Ja’abra], then to another one [Junied]. They questioned us, and took our finger prints. I was there from 7:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.”

At 7:00 p.m. soldiers released twelve of the students and transported seven to Ofer military prison. Soldiers released four of them from the prison late on the night of 20 March. Three of the children remain in Ofer.  Israel is currently detaining 195 Palestinian children, 93 of them in Ofer prison.

For several weeks prior to the incident, members of Christian Peacemaker Teams and other internationals monitoring checkpoints near the schools observed soldiers asking children about photos on a camera before allowing them to pass through to their schools. Students attending school near the Old City must pass through military checkpoints each day as they walk to and from school.

On 20 March, Israeli officials committed at least four clear violations of rights guaranteed to these children under international law:

Parents or legal guardians should be informed of the arrest of children within the shortest possible time thereafter, in a language understood by the child and the parents or legal guardians. (The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), article 9 (1) and (2); Beijing Rules, Rule 10.1)

All children should be free from compulsory self-incrimination, which includes the right to silence. ‘Compulsory’ should be interpreted broadly and not limited to physical force. The age of the child and the length of the interrogation, the child’s lack of understanding and the fear of unknown consequences may all lead a child to give a confession that is not true. (Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) article 40(2)(b) (iv); CRC General Comment No. 10, paragraphs 56-58; Convention against Torture, article 15; ICCPR, article 14(3)(g) and (4); Geneva IV, article 31)

There must be independent scrutiny of the methods of interrogation of children. This should include the presence of a lawyer and relative or legal guardian and audio-visual recording of all interrogations involving children (CRC, art 40(2)(b0(ii) and (iv); CRC General Comment no. 10, para 58; ICCPT, art. 14(3)(b); HRC General Comment no. 20, para 11; HRC Concluding Observations, Israel (29 July 2010), ICCPR/C/ISR/CO/3, para 22; Convention against Torture, art. 2; UN Committee against Torture, General Comment No. 2, para 14, and Concluding Observations, Israel (14 May 2009), CAT/C/ISR/CO/4, paras 15, 16, 27 and 28)

Children should not be held with an adult population while in custody. Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, parties should establish separate facilities for children deprived of their liberty, including distinct, child-centered staff, personnel, policies and practices.

According to UNICEF (Children in Israeli Military Detention; Observations and Recommendations, February 2012),  approximately 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17 are arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli army, police and security agents each year. In the past ten years approximately 7,000 children have been detained, interrogated, prosecuted and/or imprisoned within the Israeli military justice system. This is an average of two children each day.

March 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , , | Leave a comment

PALESTINE: Tent for school children demolished hours after it was built

CPTnet | March 16, 2013

On 16 March 2013 the South Hebron Hills Popular Committee built a tent to protect school children from Tuba and Maghayir Al Abeed while they wait for their military escort. Hours after the ceremonious construction of the tent — attended by villagers, school children, internationals and various media outlets — was over, the Israeli military demolished the tent and arrested one of the internationals present.

The schoolchildren coming from Tuba and Maghayire Al Abeed walk between the Israeli settlement of Ma’on and the outpost of Havat Ma’on in order to get to school in At-Tuwani. Since 2001 settlers have repeatedly attacked the children along this route, preventing most of the children, who feared for their safety, from being able to attend school. In 2004 volunteers from Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and Operation Dove began accompanying the children along the path, but the violent attacks continued. These attacks brought the matter to the attention of the Children Rights Committee of the Knesset, which established in November 2004 a military escort to protect the children.

Since November 2004, CPT and Operation Dove have constantly monitored the military escort, documenting the failures of the Israeli army as well as settler violence toward the children. During the school year 2011-2012, the volunteers of Operation Dove and CPT published a report, The Dangerous Road to Education, which found that in 35% of cases the military escort was late. In addition, in 48% of cases, the military escort arrived late after school, forcing the children to wait for a total time of about 21 hours. There is nothing to shelter the children, some as young as six years old, from the elements as they wait for their unpunctual military escort.

The Popular Committee wanted to give the children a tent to shelter them while they wait. The event had around one hundred in attendance. These included some of the children whom the tent was being made for, teachers and administrators from the school, CPT and other international organizations, Palestinians from At-Tuwani and surrounding villagers and the media. The crowd was immediately met by soldiers who filmed all the attendees and took down Palestinian flags that children had put up around the building area. The children played and chanted in front of the soldiers while settlers on the next hilltop yelled down at them, “Kill all the Arabs.” The tent was completed and christened “Michele’s tent” after the late daughter of the Italian woman who funded the project.

As the afternoon wore on the crowd started to leave. Two hours after the tent was build the Israeli military demolished it and arrested one of the international volunteers who had remained there. The volunteer was released, but must leave the West Bank for two weeks. The Popular Committee plans to rebuild the tent, but as for now the schoolchildren will have to wait out in the rain when they return to school on Sunday.

March 16, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment