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International Human Rights Monitor Arrested During Destruction of Palestinian Home

URGENT: Contact occupation authorities to demand the release of human rights monitor: 

On November 22nd, 2023 early in the morning, Israeli occupation forces bulldozed a family home in Sha’ab Al-Butum in the Yatta region of the occupied West Bank which has seen soaring levels of extremist settler and IOF violence against Palestinians and human rights defenders.  

Palestinian family watches as bulldozers arrive

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there have been 916 home demolitions in the West Bank, in 2023 alone. As international human rights monitors were present to document the destruction of the residence, occupation authorities arrested a peaceful Belgian/British foreign national and currently have her detained in a central police station.  

Human rights worker being led away under arrest during demolition.

The human rights worker, Alison Russell, was standing peacefully at the site of the demolition, and was arrested on outrageous allegations of “publications supporting Hamas” “disturbing soldiers,” “desecration of state symbols,” and “supporting a terror organization”.  Alison Russell was brought before a judge on Thursday, November 23, 2023, and charged with “praising, encouraging, or publishing a call to do an act of violence” “damaging the respect of the country’s flag or other symbols” and “disturbing a public worker”. The judge extended Alison’s detention until Sunday, November 26th.

Since October 7th, human rights defenders monitoring this campaign of escalating violence and terror against occupied Palestinians in the West Bank have been groped, verbally assaulted, held at gunpoint, had their phones smashed and confiscated, and the passwords to their devices demanded by occupation forces along with their proxies, the extremist ideological settlers working to ethnically cleanse the area in the South Hebron Hills.  

Palestinian women and children survey the damage of the home demolition in Sha’ab al-Butum

Documenting the atrocities occurring in the occupied West Bank has included reporting on the ethnic cleansing of 16 Palestinian villages in Massafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills.  The Palestinian families in these villages are enduring violent raids, the smashing of their vehicles, the destruction of their farming equipment, the slashing of their water tanks, invasion of their homes and threats that if they do not abandon their homes and villages to the settlers, they would all be murdered within 24 hours.

Free speech is not treason or terrorism. Even Israel’s state prosecutor has previously warned Israeli police that unjustified arrest of dissenters harms the rule of law. International human rights workers and Israeli peace activists are being arrested and jailed for speaking out against settler violence, apartheid, massacres, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.  These same unfounded, absurd accusations, when leveled at Palestinians in the West Bank, result in their arrest and torture. And these same unfounded, absurd accusations when directed towards human rights activists in Gaza, result in missiles killing them or their families, as has occurred with Kahlil Abu Yahia, Ahmed Abu-Artema and others. 

Urgent action is needed to demand occupation forces release Alison Russell and stop the arrests and prosecution of all international, Israeli, and Palestinian peace activists and human rights workers:  

State Prosecuter Eisman:
Email: Amitai@justice.gov.il