On Tuesday at dawn Israeli forces raided the city of Bethlehem and targeted the house of Jacques Nino, general coordinator of Children Play and Education.Nino organization is one of the associations part of the Welcome to Palestine campaign 2012, in which hundreds of European and American volunteers will arrive to the occupied Palestinian territories between the 15th and 21st if April to take part in building schools and volunteer in local peace building NGOs.
“They raided my house on Tuesday at 2AM; soldiers forced my wife and son into one room and interrogated me in the living room.” Nino told IMEMC.
He added that “they wanted to obtain information on who is coming I explained to them that we have no lists of names, they called them hooligans and trouble makers I explained to the soldiers that those coming some are children and families who are coming to build a school and renovate a kindergarten.”
Organizers of welcome to Palestine say that the campaign is a response to Israel’s attempts to illegalize any kind of volunteer or visit by internationals to the Palestinians territories. In recent years Israel border control have deported or refused entry of hundreds of internationals for being associated with Palestinian NGOs, schools, or families.
According to organizers the first Welcome to Palestine Campaign in December 2010 brought 100 individuals to the West Bank. In July 2011 saw hundreds of individuals purchase airline tickets and attempt to board planes to Palestine as part of the campaign.
Israel sent a ‘black list’ of 342 participants from the ages of 9 to 83 years old to prevent them from boarding planes sparking huge protests in several international airports. The Israeli military also turned the airport near Tel Aviv into a military compound.
One hundred twenty-seven women and men were arrested at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv and then imprisoned for several as they insisted on their right to visit Palestinian associations and families.