FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Today, Friday 19th May at 11.00, Israeli miltary forces violently prevented worshipers from Shufat refugee camp walking to Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray the Friday prayer.
Over thirty armed soldiers and mounted officers attacked a non-violent demonstration of Shufat refugee camp residents and Israeli and International supporters inside the camp close to the checkpoint at the camp entrance.
Residents of the camp have been complaining for many months about the violent and extreme behaviour of the Border Police in the camp. The situation deteriorates in particular on Fridays when many worshipers who try to go to the Al-Aqsa Mosque are beaten, arrested and subjected to verbal abuse by Israeli forces.
When Palestinian men, women and children attempted to march peacefully alongside Israeli and international activists they were immediately surrounded by dozens of Israeli soldiers. After a short period of discussion, and unprovoked by any aggression from the residents, Israeli soldiers physically pushed the demonstrators back. Several people fell to the ground including women and children, and many other Palestinians were scared and intimidated.
When the remaining residents attempted to form a human chain with Internationals and Israelis they were attacked by soldiers with punches and kicks. The violence increased as Israeli forces then conducted aggressive snatch operations against protesters, journalists, innocent bystanders, internationals and Israelis. As the protesters were held and dragged by several soldiers other soldiers freely punched, choked and kicked them.
Ibrahim, one of the Palestinian non-violent protesters that was arrested during todays demo, commented on the brutal attack by Israeli soldiers: “they crossed a red line today, and their goal was clearly to lower the moral of protestors and give us a strong warning for the future”… “but I can promise them we’re not giving up. We will continue the non violent demonstrations no matter what they do to us”.
Two Palestinians, one Israeli and an English journalist were violently beaten, before being forced into a police van and taken to a station in East Jerusalem where they were detained. In their statment the Israeli soldiers accused them of “throwing stones” and being part of “an illegal demonstration” All four were released without charge at 2pm.
The English journalist said afterwards: “the demonstration was completely peaceful until the soldiers attacked us without provocation. A couple of children who were not part of the demonstration threw stones back at them. The Israeli soldiers then rushed forward after a few moments to grab the kids. The kids had made good their escape by then, so instead the soldiers grabbed a Palestinian who had gone over from the demonstration to get the kids to stop throwing stones. As they handcuffed him they were brutally beating him on the head. I went over to film this and to tell them to stop. They did not like someone witnessing their brutality so they beat me up too and shoved me in the van with the other three.”.
For more information:
ISM media office 02 2772018
Ibrahim 054 737 2185