The Stop the Wall campaign has issued a press release stating that their office, in Ramallah, was raided by the Israeli military, late Sunday night.The military arrived, with a convoy 10 military jeeps, hummers, and an armored bus. They surrounded and proceeded to search the building, seizing computer hard disks, laptop computers, cameras, CDs and documents during the proceedings.
No arrests were reported, but the military did cause significant damage to the office during the search.
In related news, Israeli sources are reporting that two members of the International Solidarity Movement have been released on bail.
Ariadna Jove Marti, a Spanish journalist, and Bridgette Chappell, an Australian student in the Beir Zeit university, were detained Saturday night, initially under the grounds of overstaying their visas. Both were taken from ISM’s Ramallah media office, before being transferred to Israel’s immigration police, a unit known as “Oz.”
The pair have been released on bail of 3,000 NIS each, and are barred from entering the Occupied Palestinian Territories until their hearings have been concluded.
During the initial proceedings, the state prosecutor admitted, before the Supreme Court, that the transference of the pair to the immigration police was illegal, as the unit has no authority in the occupied territories. The issue of the legality of the raid is still in question, as the state prosecution has claimed that the reason for the arrest was due to issues of security, although ISM report that no such evidence has been provided.
Ramallah is designated Area A, following the Oslo Accords, where the Israeli military has no jurisdiction unless the situation is considered to be a matter of serious security concern to the State of Israel. Internationals staying on expired visas are not considered to fall under this category.
Non-violent resistance movements, such as The Stop the Wall campaign, the Popular Committee Against the Wall & Settlement Construction and the International Solidarity Movement, have come under increasing pressure from the State of Israel.
Prior to the detention of Chappell & Marti, ISM media co-ordiantor, Eva Nováková, was arrested during a night raid at her home, in Ramallah, and deported the same morning, before her lawyer had the chance to file papers appealing the decision. Miss Nováková is currently challenging the deportation from her home country, the Czech Republic.
In addition, ISM volunteer, Ryan Olander was released following a deportation hearing where the Israeli High Court deemed his detention in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, by the Israeli police force and transfer to the Oz Unit, illegal.
Nata Golan, ISM organizer and co-founder, stated,
‘the crackdown on the ISM and Stop the Wall campaign is a continuation of an arrest campaign of the leadership of the popular struggle. Israel is nervous because its clear that the popular struggle is gaining legitimacy and widening. They have done many things to try stop it in the past including killing people and now they are using violence
which they know how to do. It failed in the past and they will fail this time’
The members of the local committees have seen a dramatic escalation in the Israeli military’s tactics towards their operations.
Suheel al-Salman, organizer of the Stop the Wall campaign, said,
‘this comes because the popular struggle is now damaging the image of Israel. This is a very dangerous escalation by the Israeli military; they have arrested 50 activists since the start of this year while all last year they arrested 100 activists.’