16 Peace Activists Under Arrest for Dismantling Roadblocks Outside Palestinian Villages
Following a nonviolent act of resistance today in which Israelis, Palestinians and internationals worked to dismantle a roadblock outside the Palestinian villages of Bidiya and Maskha, Israeli soldiers forcibly dragged away and arrested 15 of the activists, who are currently being held in the police station of the Ariel Settlement.
The large roadblocks were set down by the Israeli army to prevent the residents from leaving or entering their villages. Working only with hand tools and their bare hands, the activists managed to move huge boulders and clear away some of the blockade, when army reinforcements arrived and demanded that they leave. The activists initially ignored the army orders, when the soldiers began to physically restrain them. At that point, the activists sat down on the road and linked arms, but the soldiers dragged them away, threw them into paddy wagons, and brought them to the nearby settlement, where they are currently being interrogated. Two Israeli women were wounded during the forced evacuation.
Those arrested include 6 Israelis, 2 Palestinians, and nationals from Italy, France, Sweden, Canada, and the United States. Luisa Morgantini, a member of the European Parliament who was participating in the action, was not arrested.
After the arrests, the army used tear gas to disperse the villagers and others on the site.
“Israeli policies in the territory are brutal and are being done in our name,” said Gila Svirsky from the Coalition of Women for a Just Peace. “It is our moral obligation as Israelis to not cooperate with this inhumanity, and we will continue to do so.”
The action was co-sponsored by Israeli and Palestinian peace organizations, including Rabbis for Human Rights, Gush Shalom, the Coalition of Women for a Just Peace, and the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement.