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Illegal Arrests and Shootings in Israel Reach Epic LevelsTim King Salem-News.com
ISM co-founder Huwaida Arraf, was arrested while negotiating with the Israelis, to allow a woman they had shot to get to the hospital.
(AN NABI SALEH / SALEM) - Israel's daily efforts to violently quell the call for peace among the Palestinian people and their growing list of supporters, is reaching epic levels. Israel, according to multiple reports, is increasing its abuses of women in an open fashion. This is the story of a young woman named Huwaida Arraf.
We reported on 20 March that a demonstration in An Nabi Saleh Friday saw a sharp spike in violence and collective punishment from the Israeli military. In the course of an unarmed peaceful demonstration, 25 people were injured by Israeli police and the Israeli Defense Forces, who are said to have intentionally shattered the windows of cars and homes, while arresting three.
A volunteer for the humanitarian aid group International Solidarity Movement (ISM), Ellen Stark, was shot by Israeli forces at nearly point blank range with a rubber bullet as she stood with medics. The bullet shattered a bone in Ellen's arm and became lodged inside of her.
Co-Founder of ISM Huwaida Arraf was arrested while negotiating with the Israelis, to allow Ellen through the military line to get to the hospital.
The ongoing debate centers around the group's efforts to preserve Palestinian land, which is disappearing by the day under Israeli aggression.
According to Ellen Stark, “we were standing on Palestinian land, in support of the village whose land has been confiscated but we weren’t even demonstrating yet."
Not only were twenty five people shot, and medical services initially denied; others were taken into custody under what turn out to be illegal conditions, according to ISM counsel.
The three who were arrested were 33-year old Huwaida Arraf, 23-year old Omar, and 22-year old Amjad. Huwaida was released last night at around 6:45 p.m. from Neve Tirtze prison in Ramle.
She said, "Save for minor cuts and bruises, I am OK."
Huwaida was arrested Friday at around noon as she tried to get the Israeli soldiers to stop shooting at people in Nabi Saleh, a small village of about 400 people. This is in the wake of ISM volunteer Ellen Stark being shot in the arm.
"We were in Nabi Saleh for a weekly demonstration by the villagers against the theft of their land. Simultaneous demonstrations were taking place in Jerusalem and in a number of villages throughout the West Bank. In Nabi Saleh, the demonstration took the form of people walking down a hill toward the confiscated land."
She says they yelled repeatedly, "Stop shooting... a woman has been injured and needs medical attention".
Huwaida made her way back up the hill to the road the soldiers stood on, yelling at them the whole time.
According to multiple reports, these Israeli soldiers were actually shooting down at the women, some already injured, from up high, fully aware that they were climbing rugged terrain, which created terrible difficulty they said, especially while trying to avoid a barrage of tear gas and bullets.
Huwaida said that when she and other members of the International Solidarity Movement reached the road, the soldiers turned their guns on her, but she just kept talking and walking towards them.
"We have a woman that has been shot; she needs help. Stop shooting. There is no reason to be shooting at people like this. You are in THEIR village."
For this offense, Huwaida was handcuffed and thrown in a jeep. She was later accused of: (1) attacking a police officer; (2) cursing at the military and police; (3) obstructing the operations of the military; and (4) being in a closed military zone.
Most people arrested by Israeli police, especially Israeli citizens and foreigners, are taken to an Israeli police station; that is what the actual law calls for. But Israel maintains separate laws and policies for the legal treatment of people who are Jewish, and those who are non-Jewish.
Huwaida was taken to the illegal settlement of Halamish where she was held for nearly eight hours outside in the cold. She says two other Palestinians from Nabi Saleh, Omar and Amjad were also arrested and brought there.
"The soldiers and border police were particularly abusive to Omar and Amjad, pushing them around, forcing them to stand for hours, handcuffed and blindfolded and every few minutes yelling at them to lift their heads, so they couldn't rest or fall asleep. When I protested this abuse I was told to 'shut the f*** up'" and if I didn't, I would get the same treatment. I responded, 'I don't really care, but it's sad that you feel you have to treat people so inhumanely.' 'Shut the f*** up!'
Huwaida says at one point, when Omar couldn't feel his hands or move his fingers anymore due to a combination of tight plastic cuffs and the cold, they were taken into a building, supposedly to be checked by a doctor. To make the illegal arrest more unseemly, the acts were carried out by an Israeli military officer.
"The same officer who kept telling me to shut up, abusing his power because he can, ordered us to stand facing the wall. I refused this unnecessary measure and show of macho bullying, and was dragged back outside, lifted by my arms, while still cuffed behind my back, and then thrown on the ground. The dehumanization of Palestinians was not only evident amongst the soldiers, but also the Jewish settlers. Since we were held outside in the settlement, we were exposed to settler youth who surrounded and hurled profanities at us."
So where will this lead?
A lawyer for the International Solidarity Movement says that the arrests were illegal, stressing that Huwaida should have been taken before a judge the same day she was arrested.
Huwaida said, "Israeli citizens and internationals have that right. Palestinians don't. I was separated from Omar and Amjad at about 2:00 in the morning, as after we were interrogated I was taken to a women's prison in Ramle, and they to the Ofer military prison. In the end I was detained for 31 hours, then released. If I had not been released I would have come before a judge last night."
It will likely be at least another week before Omar and Amjad will be allowed to see a judge. At that point they will be accused of violence because they were protesting, unarmed, against the confiscation of their land.
The world is beginning to display a genuine outrage toward the violent behavior of Israel; whose politicians and sympathizers always lament their own fate and safety, while literally treating people with a total disdain and complete disregard for accepted standards of humanity, at times as bad or worse than any group in history. Israel, based on historical records and traditional criteria, is a terrorist government. Their chief ally in the genocide of the Palestinian people, is the United States of America. It is a matter of great shame for many Americans.
Israel somehow continues to commit genocide while building museums against the very idea, on a daily basis.
There appears to be a twisted and dirty level of complicity involving the U.S. and the myriad acts committed by Israel that are clearly illegal under international law. Israel, in the opinion of many, is a rogue state that must me stopped before more people die. No amount of past historical grief excuses an outward lack of humanity. Israel's leaders should all face an international tribunal for war crimes and be locked up for a very, very long time.
It is not about their religion, it is about their actions.
In Huwaida's arrest at An Nabi Saleh Friday, she says the heavily armed soldiers that invaded the small village immediately began shooting tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets.
But in the eyes of the Israeli government, the soldiers that damaged 10 Palestinian homes and injured 25 people in Nabi Saleh aren't the violent ones. The unarmed protesters that they shot; people like Huwaida, Omar and Amjad, are. Huwaida believes Omar and Amjad are likely to have to pay a fine and/or post a hefty bail to be released, if they are not held for months first.
"The police released me right before I was scheduled to come before a judge. This is likely because they had nothing to bring before a judge. I probably should have refused release and challenged their actions in court, but I really didn't want to make a big deal out of my arrest, when so many other worse things are happening."
Huwaida says as bad as the arrest was, it is important to remember that there are many good things happening also.
"Solidarity actions around the world are on the rise, the BDS movement is gaining more support every day, and the spirit of the Palestinian people is high. Israel expects to be able to continue stealing land and resources, subjugating the indigenous people, and using violence to subdue any kind of protest from the colonized and their supporters. We don't have the weapons Israel has to fight back, but we have our spirit and our voices with which we will fight. Israel should be under no illusion that it can intimidate or break us."
She took the time to thank everyone for their concern and support. The struggle of these people is seeing an increasing level of solidarity.
Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. You can send Tim an email at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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