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Neta Golan arrested by Israeli police after attempting to leave Gaza

Neta Golan, an Israeli citizen and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), has been arrested by Israeli police while attempting to leave Gaza through the Erez border crossing.

Neta Golan, 38, arrived Gaza on the 20th December, along with 17 human rights observers on the SS Dignity, the fifth boat to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza, organised by the Free Gaza Movement.

She will be taken to court tomorrow (23rd December) in Kiryat Gat.

Neta Golan’s lawyer, Adnan Aladdin, condemned the arrest;

“Ms Golan’s actions in no way constitute a crime. Her actions in entering Gaza were acts of necessity based on international law and a rejection of the policies of collective punishment pursued by the Israeli government”

“Humanitarian needs, such as those faced by the Palestinian people of Gaza due to the Israeli siege, make non-violent acts that are clearly a response to this act of collective punishment necessary. This is common sense and has precedent.”

“The Defense of Necessity protects those who peacefully seek to prevent gross violations of human rights, grave breaches of humanitarian law, and war crimes from occurring. Non-violent civil disobedience in opposition to and aimed at preventing gross violations of human rights, grave breaches of humanitarian law, and war crimes has been recognized as justified by the necessity of self-defense and the necessity of defense of others in several jurisdictions around the world. (Source – The State of Israel vs.Ascherman, Arik; Omer, Ori; Hamburger, Shai Eliezer, January 2004, Criminal Case # 003751/03)

Under the Geneva Conventions of 1949, collective punishment is deemed a war crime. Article 33 of the the Fourth Geneva Convention states; “No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed,” and that “collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.”

After successfully breaking the blockade with the Free Gaza Movement, Neta Golan spent three days in the Gaza Strip observing the effects of the Israeli siege on Gaza. She visited schools, hospitals and farmers who’s lives have been devastated by Israel’s policies of collective punishment.

She stated;

“How can an act against the collective punishment of over 1.5 million people be a crime? The policies of the Israeli State towards the people of Gaza is the real crime”.

“I feel it is my duty to come to Gaza and attempt to raise awareness as to what the Israeli state is doing to the people here. We broke the siege on Gaza, now it is time for more from the international community to do the same in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

Neta Golan is one of the co-founders of the International Solidarity Movement which was nominated twice for a Nobel Peace prize. She has actively resisted the occupation, participating in hundreds of demonstrations against the wall and the illegal settler roads. She is married and lives in Ramallah with her Palestinian husband and two children.

The collective punishment of the people of Gaza has, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency, had a devastating effect on the local population. The siege has seen Israel allow only the bare minimum of essential materials allowed into the Strip. Last week even the UN food and cash distribution that was to be transferred was suspended by Israel.

Figures collected by the UN also show that 51.8% of the people of Gaza are now living below the poverty line, a figure the UN described as unprecedentedly high. The UN also announced last week that it had been forced to stop distributing food to the 750,000 people inneed and forced to suspend financial distributions to a further 94,000.

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles. Founded by a small group of activists in August, 2001, ISM aims to support and strengthen the Palestinian popular resistance by providing the Palestinian people with two resources, international protection and a voice with which to nonviolently resist an overwhelming military occupation force.

The International Solidarity Movement re-established its presence in the Gaza Strip following the first voyage of the Free Gaza Movement on the 23rd August 2008. ISM volunteers have been accompanying Gazan fishermen as they fish with Palestinian waters, working with farmers who have land situated along the Green Line and documenting aspects of the siege and occupation of Gaza. On the 18th November, three ISM volunteers were abducted from Palestinian waters by the Israeli navy together with fifteen Palestinian fishermen. The internationals were later deported from Israel, despite never having entered Israeli territory until taken into Israeli waters by the Israeli navy.