The War Against Human Rights Groups
by Mary La Rosa
May 10, 2003
The International Solidarity Movement and Rapprochement offices in Beit Sahour were raided today. Three women were taken into custody. Two internationals were arrested, both apparently American. One of the arrested was the communications coordinator. A Palestinian is being held for questioning. Radio news reported that the internationals were illegally there, but the ISM office confutes that. In addition to the arrests, 5 computers and 3 lap tops were confiscated.
This is the beginning of the War on Human Rights Groups. It is being perpetuated by the Israeli Defense Forces and aimed, in particular, at those who wish to aid the cause of human rights in the Occupied Territories and in Gaza. Amnesty International delegates have just released that they were denied access to the Gaza today because they refused to sign the "waivers".
At present, legal aid is being sought to try to release the women and to recoup the computers. Action beyond that is also needed. If the attack on the ISM and the document below that foreigners will from now on be forced to sign are allowed to succeed, then ALL other international human rights and anti- occupation groups will soon follow. After them, all Israeli groups similar to New Profile will, no doubt, be directly targeted.
New Profile, a Movement for The Civilization of Israeli Society, works diligently against the injustice being perpetuated by the Military State of Israel. Besides their on-going and continuous support of the growing number of Refusers (men and women who refuse to participate, via their military service, in the oppression of the Palestinian people) New Profile directly intervenes in the arrest and detainment of Palestinians and Internationals who are seized by the Israeli government.
Obviously, it would be of benefit to the IDF if all such an organization could not function in its liaison capacity with the Occupied Territories, but also with regards to the upcoming trials of the conscientious objectors.
The International Solidarity Movement, a Palestinian led non-violent group which attempts to provide protection to the Palestinian people and to enable them to non-violently resist the Israeli military occupation of Palestine, has recently come under direct attack from the Israeli Government and Army.
This attack, including the targeting of ISM volunteers that left one dead, one comatose and one severely injured, and now this new declaration, are all aimed at discrediting and inhibiting the peace work of the ISM. New Profile, and other Israeli groups of similar heart and mind, in turn, tries to protect and support the efforts of the ISM.
Here is a copy of the declaration that Amnesty International delegates refused to sign. The declaration states that the individual "accept(s) that the government of the state of Israel and its organs cannot be held responsible for death, injury and/or damage/loss of property which may be incurred as a result of military activity".
COPY OF DECLARATION:
Israeli Defense Forces
Form to be filled out and submitted to IDF authorities prior to entry to the Gaza Strip
Address in Gaza
Purpose of visit in detail
Duration of visit
Organization arranging visit
Conditions of Entry into the Gaza Strip
Foreign nationals entering the Gaza Strip, please note that the IDF is committed to ensuring the safety of civilians not engaged in hostilities. However, in the current circumstances, the IDF cannot guarantee the personal safety of foreign nationals visiting the area.
Although the IDF cannot accept responsibility for death, injury or damage/loss of property incurred as a result of military activity, foreign nationals visiting the area are subject to the following conditions whose purpose is to minimize the risks involved:
1. The Military Installation Area along the border with Egypt is IDF administered territory and is strictly out of bounds to foreign nationals. Please note that this area has been the site of intense hostilities and is extremely dangerous.
2. Interference or obstruction of Israeli security personnel in the performance of their duties is a criminal offense.
3. The areas adjacent to the Perimeter Fence, Israeli Settlements, Lateral Roads serving Israeli civilians and IDF positions are Closed Military Zones and are strictly out of bounds to all persons.
4. Foreign nationals are strongly advised to stay well clear of military activity.
I declare that the details provided above are true and correct and that I have read the above conditions and agree to abide by the fully. I am aware that my failure to do so may lead to my arrest and/ or expulsion from the Gaza Strip and/or from the territory of the State of Israel. I am aware of the risks involved and accept that the Government of the State of Israel and its organs cannot be held responsible for death, injury and/or damage/loss of property which may be incurred as a result of military activity. I also undertake not to disrupt IDF operations in any way and declare that I have no association with the organization known as ISM (International Solidarity Movement) nor any other organization whose aim is to disrupt IDF operations.
Ironically, as the issue(s) of peace unfold, the people most at risk in Israel and the Occupied Territories are those who strive towards greater peace and understanding. Darker and even more oppressive days are ahead if the International Community at large does not act and act quickly.
Current communications between such organizations and people living in Israel and the Occupied Territories, such as New Profile and The International Solidarity Movement, is presently in grave jeopardy. The ISM Media Coordinator who was responsible for sending the copy of this Declaration to the offices of New Profile, is still, as I write, under in custody.
This new war on human rights groups and sympathizers of the oppressed is insidious and as lethal as any weapon or biological contamination. Threats of such actions had been previously discussed on radio in Israel. On Passover Eve, April 16, 2003 at 08:00, the program “Open Line with the Chief of Staff” was broadcast, during which Lt. General Moshe Ya’alon spoke with soldiers and commanders about current events and the action that was about to take place. In this interview he discussed the future evacuation of all international peace activists in the Occupied Territories. Besides totally denying any wrong doing in the taking of the lives of international peace workers, he futher said:
“I have just given an order to remove the organizations activists from the area, firstly for their own benefit - they are endangering their own lives in a superfluous way - but are also creating provocation's that injure our freedom of action on the ground. And so it’s advisable that they get out of the area.”
The ISM, however, has no plans to leave the Palestinian areas, nor to reduce its actions or efforts.
In the US: Contact your congressperson, the State Department and the White House using this link.
Also call the State Department and demand action. STATE DEPARTMENT 1-202-647-5150
For UK, Please call THE FOREIGN OFFICE 020 7008 1500,
Also Contact your MP and Prime Minister
For Israel Contact Israeli Minister of Interior, Tel:
+972-2-629-4701; Fax: +972-2-629-4750
Israeli Foreign Minister, Silvan Shalom Fax:
+972-2-5303704 e-mail: email@example.comIsraeli Defense
Minister, Shaul Mofaz Fax: +972-3-6916940, 6976990
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon fax: (+972-2) 566-4838 or
651-3955 or 651-2631
For Canada: Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham,
Commons, Ottawa ON K1A 0A6; Fax 613-996-3443 e-mail:
Everyone, Contact the Israeli embassy in your country
Mary La Rosa is an artist and librarian living 20 miles from NYC. She actively contributes to and supports alternative online news as champions of the basic freedoms once overtly represented by mainstream medias as the "Free Press". She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org