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Over 100 Internationals Deploy to Allow Palestinians Safe Passage

[Surda, Palestine] Over one hundred foreign civilians served as an “international protection force” for Palestinians today and deployed at the Surda military checkpoint (on the road from Ramallah to Birzeit University) to allow Palestinians safe passage to and from work and school.

The Israeli military checkpoint set up at Surda is illegal according to UN Resolutions and international law. The checkpoint is also a site of daily abuses of Palestinian human rights by Israeli soldiers. Palestinian cars are not permitted to pass and thousands of Palestinians, old and young are forced to walk uphill for over a kilometer when passing. The identification cards of young Palestinian men are often confiscated and the young men themselves forced to wait, sometimes hours, in obedient positions behind barbed wire. Israeli soldiers have even resorted to harassing Palestinian youth, as international observers* have witnessed soldiers yelling at 8-10 year old children, asking them for their identification.**

Israeli soldiers attacked the international group deployed in the area with tear gas and concussion bombs, despite the nonviolent nature of their presence. The foreign peace activists clearly identified themselves as an international peace force and carried a message of peace and justice. Activists were pushed, shoved and even kicked by soldiers who acted violently and aggressively. More than one time, soldiers trained their sights and laser targeting from their guns on unarmed activists in a threatening gesture.

Palestinian and international activists held firm, and kept the road open all day, allowing Palestinians to pass without harassment. Additionally, Palestinian activists removed an Israeli outpost, used by soldiers to illegally control the area. At no time were stones thrown by protesters and at no time were there any violent gestures or actions by the peace activists.

Today’s action by internationals and Palestinians is a call for more concrete intervention by the international community. “It’s shameful that our countries stand by while Israel continues to terrorize the Palestinian people. I’m here to stand up against injustice and to urge my government to do the same,” said U.S. citizen and participant Brian Wood.

For more information, call Huwaida at 052-642-709 or Palestinian Center for Rapprochement at 02-277-2018.

Notes to Editor:

*The international observers are part of a group called International Checkpoint Watch. The ICW is made up of volunteers from various foreign countries who monitor checkpoints on a regular basis to document human rights abuses.

** Children do not have identification. You are assigned an ID card at the age of 16 in Palestine.

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is comprised of local Palestinian and foreign civilians working to raise awareness of the Palestinian plight for freedom and an end to Israeli military occupation. We call on Israel to immediately implement UN Resolutions and abide by international law. We urge the United Nations and our respective governments to take decisive action to ensure Israel’s compliance therewith.

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