7 February 2010
For Immediate Release:
Israeli soldiers raided a Ramallah apartment around 3AM to arrest a Spanish and an Australian activist over expired visas in direct violation of the Oslo Accords.
At three in the morning, the Israeli army forcefully entered an apartment in the Area A city of Ramallah and arrested two activists from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) on suspicion of overstaying their visas. The two, Ariadna Jove Marti, a Spanish journalist, and Bridgette Chappell, an Australian student in the Beir Zeit university, were then taken to the Ofer military prison located inside the Occupied Territories, where they were handed over to the Israeli immigration police unit “Oz”.
The raid and detention of the two is in direct violation of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which clearly forbids any Israeli incursion into Area A for reasons not directly and urgently related to security. Even the conduct of “hot pursuit” is disallowed in non-security related matters, which overstayed visas are.
The arrests tonight follow the unlawful detention and deportation of Czech citizen Eva Nováková under similar circumstances last month. Her arrest stirred controversy over the misuse of the “Oz” unit inside the Occupied Territories, despite them having no authority in the area.
According to Ryan Olander, an American solidarity activist who was at the scene during the raid, around ten soldiers forcefully entered the apartment and demanded to see the passports of everyone who was present and informed the two of their detention on the grounds of overstayed visas. The soldiers confiscated cameras, a computer, pro-Palestinian banners and ISM volunteers’ registration forms.
Following the arrests Olander said that, “This raid is a continuation of Israel’s attempts to quash the grassroots movement against the Occupation. This is a cynical and unjust attempt to hide the reality of the Occupation and further bar access to information from the international community”.
Israeli attempts to deport foreigners involved with Palestinian solidarity work are part of a recent campaign to end Palestinian grassroots demonstrations, which involves mass arrests of Palestinian protesters and organizers. Over the last ten months, the “Oz” immigration unit illegally arrested and attempted to deport four other international activists.
Eva Nováková, a Czech national and former ISM media coordinator, was arrested in Ramallah on January 11th, 2010, and deported the next day, before the deportation could be appealed. Nováková’s lawyer is currently in the process of preparing an appeal to the Israeli High Court to challenge the legality of her arrest.
Additionally, American solidarity activist, Ryan Olander, was twice arrested illegally by the “Oz” Immigration unit, but his deportation was prevented after a judge ruled his detention illegal. Similar appeals to the court have also annulled the deportations of other American and British activists in recent months.