Yesterday, Tuesday 14 June, three internationals were abducted by two undercover Israeli agents on the streets of west Jerusalem in broad daylight. At approximately one PM local time, the three internationals, who have chosen to keep their identities anonymous, walked downstairs from the flat they had stayed in the night before and into the arms of the officers, who promptly surrounded them.
The agents demanded passports and cell phones, and told the internationals that they were needed at the nearby Russian Compound police station and jail for questioning. All three internationals refused, asking for warrants or any materials that could prove beyond reasonable doubt that any Israeli agents might have legitimate reason for detaining or arresting them. No reason was given. Instead, the agents told the internationals that they were only going to be detained, and that if they did not get into the unmarked car they would be arrested and dragged to the compound against their will. After a pointless argument about the nature of democracy and police action, the three internationals agreed to go with the agents.
Upon arriving at the compound—a place notorious for torture and the bloody screams that emanate from its basement—the internationals were, after a series of more pointless arguments with other Israeli agents, shuffled into a storage closet to await further direction. At this point, approximately 1:30, the internationals had not received any answers about why they were being detained, or who had issued the order for their capture. It should be noted that it is extremely rare for internationals to be arrested in the Israeli half of Jerusalem.
The internationals were left to sit in the storage closet until some of their friends arrived with their baggage and food. They were then allowed to sit outside and eat lunch. Finally, after being moved back into the storage closet, passports and cell phones still out of reach, the internationals were called, one by one, into an office with who they suspect were members of Israel’s General Security Services (GSS), the Israeli equivalent of the American FBI. While two of the internationals had overstayed their visas, the third had only been in the country for two weeks on a three month visa and was completely ‘legal’. It should also be noted that for the entire duration of their stay at the compound, amounting to four hours, the internationals persistently requested to call their lawyers and were completely ignored.
The ‘legal’ international was summoned to the office first. One of the plainclothes agents that had abducted the three was in the room, along with two other people not yet seen by the internationals. One of them had a digital camera, and though the international in question refused to have her picture taken at first, the agents made a (false) threat of arrest if she did not comply. They took perhaps 30 pictures of her. Finally, the other hitherto unknown character put a piece of paper in front of her, asking her to sign it. The paper said that she would be required to go to theimmigration police office the next morning, Wednesday, at 9 am. Signing the paper was the condition for her release from the Russian Compound. Though she initially refused, the officers told her that if she did not sign she would be kept in the jail overnight and driven to the office by the police the next morning. She signed.
The other two internationals were brought into the office, their pictures were taken and they were processed as arrested. They were then moved to the jail adjacent to the police station and kept overnight.
This morning, Wednesday, the third, ‘legal’ international appeared at the immigration police station with her lawyer. The immigration police had no idea why she had been summoned, and said they had nothing to do with it. After laughing for a few minutes with the Israeli lawyer, they said goodbye to the international and her lawyer and the international was free to go about her business as usual.
The two other internationals are awaiting deportation. One is in the process of being moved to Ramle prison, the other to Hadera prison. They have been told that they will stay perhaps one or two days in these prisons before being deported to their respective countries, the UK and the US.
The entire affair is difficult to analyze due to the nature of Israeli secrecy related to these matters. What we can be sure of is that the It seems that the Israeli police were in some way collaborating with the GSS. who were monitering the internationals According to Israeli law, the police must have a court order to tap phones, whereas the GSS does not. There seeme to be no other conceivable explanation for the presence of the two undercover agents outside the flat in west Jerusalem. They had been waiting and knew exactly where the internationals were. The ‘legal’ international has been working and living in East Jerusalem, doing research for the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA) through a grant provided by the Human Rights Project at her college in the United States. She had never been arrested or detained by any Israeli ‘security’ forces before yesterday. Though her lawyer urged her to sue the state for detainment without cause and personal damages, she has declined due to lack of funds.