Just before noon local time on October 24th, 2012 Michigan Peace Team (MPT) member ‘Katrina’ Katarzyna Dybzynska was choked by the neck and then bodily dragged behind a line of military vehicles by Israeli border police in the Binyamin region of Palestinian Authority, outside the Rami Levy Market near an illegal Israeli settlement. According to two witnesses, Ms. Dybzynska (a Polish citizen) was ‘choked with excessive force around the neck, before being dragged off by two border police.’
After being detained on site, she was taken to an unknown hospital; MPT is awaiting information regarding her medical condition at this time.
She was held overnight at an unknown facility in Jerusalem on October 24th; she has been detained for the remaining period to the present, including the night of October 25th, 2012 at Ramle Prision, to the best of Michigan Peace Team’s information.
She has now been held for well over 36 hours. MPT Team Members, staff, and lawyers in the West Bank have been attempting to contact Ms. Dybzynska to assure her safety, medical condition, and advise her on her rights and the legal process.
According to attorneys and volunteers working to assist her, she has not been allowed adequate contact with her lawyers.
A witness standing at approximately five meters distance described the following:
‘Two border police grabbed Katrina and took her just behind a gate. One put his right arm around her throat, as he stood behind her. He squeezed very tightly and her face began to turn red immediately. At this point I was on the other side of the gate about 5 meters away. Her expression was complete terror, she appeared to be unable to breathe. I started yelling at the police to let her go, but was ignored. After choking her, they began dragging her across pavement, then grass, and then pavement again. In all they dragged her about 25 meters.’
The MPT Peace Team was attending a nonviolent demonstration of boycott against Israeli goods at Rami Levy grocery store near an illegal Israeli settlement in the autonomous Palestinian Authority.
The action was organized by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) http://www.popularstruggle.org to highlight the BDS campaign (www.bdsmovement.net ), which calls for a boycott of Israeli goods.
Witnesses and international news reports state that demonstrators remained nonviolent as police and soldiers fired sound bombs and punched, kicked, choked and otherwise assaulted internationals and Palestinians.
It is believed that the impetus for Ms. Dybzynska’s detainment was her attempt to assist Palestinian activist Basim Tamimi as he was assaulted and forcibly taken to a military vehicle by several Israeli border police.
MPT Team Members witnessed Tamimi being punched, kicked and otherwise assaulted by Israeli police while demonstrating nonviolently.
It has been reported that during the assault upon Tamimi, several of his ribs were broken. According to the International Solidarity Movement, Tamimi is the head of the popular committee of Nabi Saleh, a village that has suffered drastically from the creation and expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank.
Tamimi was released from prison in April of this year after spending 13 months in an Israeli prison for being accused of “taking part in illegal gatherings.”
Michigan Peace Team (MPT) trains volunteers from all walks of life in nonviolent action and communication, and deploys peace teams to areas of conflict worldwide to work with local people to reduce violence and deaths in high-tension situations.
Over the past 20 years, MPT has deployed hundreds of Peace Team volunteers in response to requests from dozens of locations all over the world, including Bosnia, Iraq, Chiapas (Mexico), Juarez (Mexico), Algonquin Territories in Canada, and Haiti.
MPT has continued to maintain a long-term presence of rotating teams in the West Bank (Palestine), and also regularly deploys Domestic Peace Teams throughout the United States.