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Activist Ryan Olander released from immigration detention

International Solidarity Movement

23 January 2010

A demonstrator is arrested by Israeli police during a demonstration against Jewish settlements and in solidarity with Palestinian families who were evicted from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah.

A demonstrator is arrested by Israeli police during a demonstration against Jewish settlements and in solidarity with Palestinian families who were evicted from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah.

As the sun set behind watchtowers and barbed wire fences at Ramle prison Thursday January 15th, Ryan Olander emerged from the steel auto locking door and into the unrestricted air.  Ryan had just spent 29 days locked in the Givon immigration detention center located in Ramle, Israel following his illegal arrest on December 18, 2009 in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Shekih Jarrah.

On principle and with solidarity for other nonviolent Palestinian activists working to end the illegal occupation of Palestine, Ryan chose to take his charges and deportation warrant to court. This decision to fight for justice in a country where basic human rights are so obviously denied to those seeking to challenge Israeli empire, either by speaking out or by simply existing, was made by Ryan for the greater struggle of the resistance movement.  At his initial hearing shortly after his arrest, Ryan was denied bail. It was not for another three weeks that a bail offer was provided. Bail was set at  10,000 NIS ($2,700 USD) bail with conditions such as not to return to the Shekih Jarrah neighborhood.

On Monday January 12th the incredulous charges brought forth by the State of Israel against Ryan were seen in the District Court in Tel-Aviv. According to Ryan’s attorney, Omer Shatz, “the judge accepted all of our arguments about the illegality of Olander’s detention and deportation.” Shatz further states that the judge was unfamiliar with the term “illegal detention” which government prosecutors were using against Ryan. Lastly, the judge ordered the Ministry of Interior to rescind Ryan’s deportation warrant and gave the government 30 days to notify the court of their position. Until then, Ryan remains free on bail in both Israel and Palestine.

Ryan is elated to be out of Givon, a place he describes as “hopeless…catching only a few minutes of sunlight each day that filtered through the razor wire and rebar above our heads.” However, after spending one month in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and resistance community helping as a community organizer and solidarity activist, it is upsetting and unfortunate that he will not be able to continue working closely with the families of Sheikh Jarrah. His presence in the tents and around the evening fires is greatly missed.

Targeting international activists is becoming more commonplace in Israel. Amazing Palestinian solidarity activist, Eva Novakova, was also targeted for her activism in Palestine by the Israeli government. At 3am on Monday January 11th 20 Israeli soldiers and immigration police raided the private residence of ISM media coordinator Eva Novakova citing “expired warrant” as the reason for the full military operation in Palestinian-controlled Area A in which soldiers kicked down the door to her apartment and occupied nearby rooftops. The force used to apprehend Eva was unequivocally excessive considering her crime. Eva is now in her home country of Czech Republic. She was deported without the opportunity to contest her apprehension by Israeli forces in the Palestinian-controlled Area A which is illegal by the Oslo Accords.

Israel’s tactic of repressing nonviolent international Palestinian solidarity activists is a true detriment to the nonviolent movement. We recognize the targeting of international nonviolent activists as part of a greater campaign against all nonviolent activists in Palestine (e.g. Wa’el A- Faqeeh and Abdallah Abu Rahmah). We will not, however, let their force deter us from standing with the Palestinian people and continuing to support the nonviolent struggle for freedom.