11 June 2011 | International Solidarity Movement
On Saturday June 11 three International Solidarity Movement activists were stopped by the Israeli army when trying to enter the village of Beit Ommar in the southern West Bank. The activists were going to participate in a non-violent demonstration against the illegal settlements in the area.
As the activists tried to enter the village Israeli soldiers stopped them and claimed that the area had been declared a closed military zone. When questioned about not being able to show the official paper needed to prove this, one soldier pointed at a sign which stated that the area is under Palestinian Authority and that no Israelis were allowed to enter the area. The soldier used this as justification for not allowing the internationals to enter. He went on to complain that Israelis were not able to enter the village, despite it being, as he put it, a part of “Israel”.
The activists then attempted to leave the village when the soldiers apparently changed their mind and dragged them from the bus they had boarded. No explanation was given when the activists asked why they were being detained. One of the soldiers had a more aggressive approach than the others, and was interested in discussing politics with the activists. He called them “leftist shits”, and told them “I could kill you”, before spitting at them and cursing them in Hebrew. He also told the activists that Palestinians were terrorists and that Beit Ommar was a dangerous village.
The soldiers lied and told the activists that they would be free to go if they showed them their passports, however they took this back after one of the activists showed her passport. One activist managed to escape detention and left the area, however the other two were asked to step into a military jeep when it arrived. When refusing to do this, since no reason had been given, the soldiers dragged the two activists into the jeep with force, despite them telling the soldiers that they need a female police officer to arrest them. They were taken to the commander of the force who amongst other things accused the activists of being terrorists and Syrian spies, spying on the Israeli military. After being taken to the police station in Kiryat Arba, an illegal settlement in the outskirts of Hebron, the activists were released after a few minutes without charge.
The demonstration in Beit Ommar went ahead as planned and protesters managed to successfully reach and work on the land belonging to the farmers of Beit Ommar.