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British human rights worker arrested in Tel Rumeida under false charges

British human rights worker arrested in Tel Rumeida under false charges, released unconditionally.
by the ISM Media Crew, 26 April 2007


Today at 10:45am, Joanne Crouch, a British human rights worker (HRW), was arrested in the Tel Rumeida district of Hebron. Israeli police at the Kiryat Arba police station tried to charge her with spray painting “Free Palestine” on a wall in the Palestinian neighborhood.

The graffiti happened late last night. Israeli soldiers attempted to invade the home of the human rights workers, but, without a warrant, HRWs did not let them enter. Last night, HRWs video recorded the soldiers, who were demanding to know who made the graffiti. According to an HRW on scene, soldiers threatened to call the police. HRWs welcomed this, but police never showed up.

This morning, however, around 10:45, Israeli police detained three HRWs who were observing the streets of Tel Rumeida. Two HRWs, one Danish and one American, were released. Joanne, however, remained in questioning at Kiryat Arba police station.

Joanne said that “I was not even involved with this graffiti! I had nothing to do with it! Israeli settlers have told the police it was me, so it is my word against theirs.” Joanne asked for the police to review the tapes from the military video cameras, which are scattered throughout the Tel Rumeida neighborhood and are on continuous recording, day and night. “This will prove my innocence,” Joanne said, “but they are refusing to do so.”

Joanne then said that the police officers handed her a paper to sign. “I refused to sign it,” she said, “because it is in Hebrew and I do not read or write Hebrew.” She then noted that the police officer said that her refusal to sign the paper proves that she is lying and guilty. “They are being really aggressive with me,” she added, “and I’ve been nice and kind to them this whole time.”

Joanne contacted an Israeli lawyer who then spoke with the police. She also contacted her embassy.

“I kept saying, ‘You are falsely accusing me’,” Joanne stated to the police officers, “you are just going to have to put me in front of a judge because I didn’t make the graffiti.”

Police told Joanne that if she didn’t sign the papers, she could be placed in front of a judge and deported. The orders that police were trying to force Joanne to sign supposedly state that she will not enter the Tel Rumeida neighborhood for 15 days or will not enter all of the Occupied Palestinian Territories for 15 days—it is still unclear.

“You have no grounds to deport me,” Joanne told the police, “just check the military cameras and you will see.”

At around 13:15pm, Israeli police rescinded the orders and Joanne signed an English translation, stating that she is being unconditionally released.

The whole district of Tel Rumeida is under complete military control. Palestinians in Tel Rumeida suffer from an ongoing campaign of violence and harassment, geared at forcing the Palestinian residents to flee the area. Violent Israeli settlers often attack Palestinians and damage property, especially on Jewish holidays and Saturdays (Shabbat). Israeli soldiers and police, who are mandated by Israeli and international law to protect the Palestinians from settler violence, often refuse to intervene.

ISM Media Office, 02-297-1824, 0599-943-157