PEACE ACTIVISTS UNDER ARREST FOR PREVENTING THE REBUILDING OF MILITARY ROADBLOCK IN PALESTINIAN VILLAGE
For Immediate Release Contact Molly, ISM Media 059943157
September 1, 2007
Yesterday in Sarra village near Nablus, four human rights defenders from Germany, the United States, The United Kingdom and Canada were arrested for blocking Israeli military bulldozers from rebuilding a roadblock between the village and the city of Nablus. Israeli activists were also arrested at the same demonstration. The activists spent the night at Ariel police station and are currently awaiting arraignment. Two of the activists, women from the UK and Canada, were forced to spend the night handcuffed and shackled at the ankles in the hallway of the police station. The protest was held after Israeli authorities had broken their promise to remove the roadblock permanently. Israeli soldiers arrived at the village last Saturday, forcing a Palestinian villager to use his tractor to close the roadblock, despite Israeli promises that the roadblock would be permanently opened. When residents removed the roadblock once again, soldiers returned during the night, retaliating against them for having taken non-violent direct action. The soldiers shot out water tanks, roughed up residents and interrogated them.
This incident comes only days after Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Haaretz newspaper haaretz.com/hasen/spages/898487.html that he plans to replace roadblocks in the West Bank with mobile checkpoints to ease restrictions on Palestinian daily life. The Sarra roadblock is one of hundreds of barriers that the Israeli authorities have erected to prevent travel between Palestinian communities. According to Btselem, the Israelis have constructed 217 dirt piles at entrances to villages or to block roads, 86 fences along roadways, 12 trenches that prevent vehicles from crossing, 93 locked gates at entrances to villages, with the keys held by the army. These physical barriers accompany the hundreds of permanent and surprise checkpoints which the Israeli army maintains inside the West Bank, limiting freedom of movement for the occupied Palestinian population.
According to a May report released by the World Bank, “freedom of movement and access for Palestinians within the West Bank is the exception rather than the norm…the restrictions arising from closure…create such a high level of uncertainty and inefficiency that the normal conduct of business becomes exceedingly difficult and stymies the growth and investment which is necessary to fuel economic revival.”
Full World Bank report HERE: siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWESTBANKGAZA/Resources/WestBankrestrictions9Mayfinal.pd
The village plans to continue to use non-violent means to resolve this issue.