Home / Press Releases / Stop the deportation of Ryan Olander; American citizen arrested in Sheikh Jarrah

Stop the deportation of Ryan Olander; American citizen arrested in Sheikh Jarrah

24 December 2009

Solidarity march with Sheikh Jerrah evicted families, Jerusalem,

Ryan Olander is due to be deported by the Israeli state, after being illegally arrested and detained in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, in Occupied East Jerusalem. Please contact the Embassy of the United States in Tel Aviv, the Israeli Minister of Interior, or consider donating towards Ryan’s legal costs.

Ryan is currently being held at a deportation facility in Ramle, where his request for release has been rejected by the prison judge. His lawyer is working on submitting an appeal to the District Court in Tel Aviv this Sunday, 27 December.

Ryan was visiting the al-Kurds in the tent the Palestinian family built in their own backyard, after the recent setter take-over of a section of their house. At 1.15pm, on Friday 18 December, 6 Israeli police walked into the tent, where Ryan was talking to the family members and drinking tea, and took him for questioning at the Russian Compound police station in west Jerusalem. (For more information about his arrest click here.)

Ryan was released without charges the following Saturday, 19 December, before the beginning of a trial with 26 Israeli activists arrested in Sheikh Jarrah, only to be illegally re-arrested by immigration police right outside of the same police station that told him he was free to go. Now Ryan is facing illegal deportation after being held in Israeli prisons for a week.

From the Givon prison in Ramle, where Mr. Olander was taken, he made the following statement:

On Friday, 18 December, I was placed under arrest illegally. A police officer forcibly removed me from the al-Kurd private residence and proceeded to file a fallacious police report stating I participated in what they claimed was an illegal demonstration and refused to disperse when ordered. In fact, I was arrested before the demonstration even took place.

I have become a target of the police for standing in solidarity with the Palestinians of Sheikh Jarrah who struggle against the unjust and illegal evictions from the places they have called their homes for nearly 60 years. Now I face illegal deportation from Israel.”

His arrest happened just before a peaceful demonstration of around 300 people, held in solidarity with the evicted Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah, was violently dispersed by the Israeli police and 27 people arrested. Ryan, along with other arrestees from Sheikh Jarrah reported ill-treatment by the police, who subjected them to several strip-searches, denied them food and water for prolonged periods of time and held them outside of the police station until late at night, with insufficient protection against the cold conditions.

The Israeli police and authorities have previously attempted to deport activists supporting the struggle of the Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and, so far one case, succeeded. We need to fight this deportation not only to stop the authorities from deporting solidarity activists in the future, but also to highlight the settlement expansion in East Jerusalem along with discriminatory law enforcement towards Palestinians.

What can you do?

1. Contact the Embassy of the United States in Tel Aviv and ask that they enquire with the Israeli authorities and challenge Ryan’s detention and possible deportation. Numerous inquiries about Ryan’s case will make it difficult for them to ignore it. You can contact them by calling (+972) 3519 7575, faxing (+972) 3517 3227 or emailing [email protected]. Below is a suggested draft email:

Dear Ambassador James B. Cunningham,

I have recently learned of the arrest of Ryan Olander. He was arrested while visiting a family in Sheikh Jarrah. Contrary to the claims of the officer who arrested him, Mr Olander was not taking part in an illegal demonstration and was subsequently released without charges the following day. I am particularly concerned about his illegal re-arrest by the immigration police, which occurred only a few moments after his release. Despite having valid visa, Mr Olander is now facing deportation and has already been held at Givon prison in Ramle for over a week.

As a US representative to Israel, I ask you to investigate his detention by submitting an official letter of inquiry about his case and to petition for his deportation to be cancelled and Mr Olander to be immediately released from prison. I will continue to contact you about this important matter.

Sincerely,

Please copy us into your emails, or let us know when you call / fax the Embassy at [email protected]

2. Contact the Israeli Ministry of the Interior to demand Ryan’s immediate and unconditional release. You can contact the Minister by emailing [email protected], faxing 00972 2666 2909 or calling 00972 2640 8406 / 00972 2640 8407. Please feel free to use the following sample letter:

Dear Minister of Internal Affairs, Eliyahu Yishai

I have recently learned of the arrest of Ryan Olander. He was arrested while visiting a family in Sheikh Jarrah. Contrary to the claims of the officer who arrested him, Mr Olander was not taking part in an illegal demonstration and was subsequently released without charges the following day. I am particularly concerned about his illegal re-arrest by the immigration police, which occurred only a few moments after his release. Despite having valid visa, Mr Olander is now facing deportation and has already been held at Givon prison in Ramle for over a week.

As the Minister of Internal Affairs in Israel, I ask you to investigate his illegal arrest and detention and to undertake all necessary steps in order for his deportation to be cancelled and Mr Olander to be immediately released from prison. I will continue to contact you about this important matter.

Sincerely,

Please copy us into your emails, or let us know when you call / fax the Embassy at [email protected]

3. Join our Facebook group to receive regular updates and help us spread the information about Ryan and Sheikh Jarrah.

4. Please consider making a donation towards Ryan’s legal costs and lawyer fees. If you would like to contribute to his defense fund you can do so via a PayPal account we have set up for this purpose.






Background on Sheikh Jarrah

Approximately 475 Palestinian residents living in the Karm Al-Ja’ouni neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, located directly north of the Old City, face imminent eviction from their homes in the manner of the Hannoun and Gawi families, and the al-Kurd family before them. All 28 families are refugees from 1948, mostly from West Jerusalem and Haifa, whose houses in Sheikh Jarrah were built and given to them through a joint project between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the Jordanian government in 1956.

So far, settlers took over houses of four Palestinian families, displacing around 60 residents, including 20 children. At present, settlers occupy all these houses and the whole area is patrolled by armed private security 24 hours a day. The evicted Palestinian families, some of whom have been left without suitable alternative accommodation since August, continue to protest against the unlawful eviction from the sidewalk across the street from their homes, facing regular violent attacks from the settlers and harassment from the police.

The Gawi family, for example, had their only shelter, a small tent built near their house, destroyed by the police and all their belongings stolen five times. In addition, the al-Kurd family has been forced to live in an extremely difficult situation, sharing the entrance gate and the backyard of their house with extremist settlers, who occupied a part of the al-Kurd home in December 2009. The settlers subject the Palestinian family to regular violent attacks and harassment, making their life a living hell.

The ultimate goal of the settler organizations is to evict all Palestinians from the area and turn it into a new Jewish settlement and to create a Jewish continuum that will effectively cut off the Old City form the northern Palestinian neighborhoods. On 28 August 2008, Nahalat Shimon International filed a plan to build a series of five and six-story apartment blocks – Town Plan Scheme (TPS) 12705 – in the Jerusalem Local Planning Commission. If TPS 12705 comes to pass, the existing Palestinian houses in this key area would be demolished, about 500 Palestinians would be evicted, and 200 new settler units would be built for a new settlement: Shimon HaTzadik.

The creation of new Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is illegal under many international laws, including Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The plight of the Gawi, al-Kurd and the Hannoun families is just a small part of Israel’s ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from East Jerusalem.