Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Israel-Palestine, The 13 Anarchist Against The Wall are free; Please demand freedom of protest 24/02/04

Feb. 24, 04 The Anarchists Are Once Again Free Dear All, First of all, the good news: the 13 anarchists arrested yesterday were released at noon today, after spending a night in jail at Abu Khabir in Jafa.
Secondly: The Israeli government and Israelis in general pride themselves on Israel being a democratic country. If it were, it would not try to silence protest. Freedom of speech would be a value not dispensed with and not restricted to one side. Please write letters to the addresses at the conclusion of this report demanding that freedom of speech not be squelched. The events that led up to the arrest of the 13 read like a spy story--the spies being the Israeli military and police.

It all began yesterday morning, Monday, February 23, in Tel Aviv at 8:00 AM at Habima (the National Theater). This was the day that the International Court of Justice at the Hague had begun deliberations on the legality of the location of the ‘Wall’ (or ‘separation fence’). The Palestinians had dedicated the day to national mobilization against the wall. Throughout the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem Palestinians and Israelis protested the wall. Several of these protests were to have been joint Israeli-Palestinian ones. The Anarchists--a movement of young, principled, highly motivated persons--were headed for one such.

But even before they got under way others began to thwart their plans. The bus driver, who arrived at Habima in Tel Aviv about ½ an hour before the time set, was surprised to have a man in civilian dress approach and ask him about his plans and where he was headed for. The driver responded evasively, stating that he had been hired to go somewhere in the north. The interrogator pressed on for more specific details, but the driver refused to respond. At this point the inquisitor pulled out his ID, revealing that he was a policeman, albeit in plain dress. The policeman advised the driver that he was calling a police van to follow him, and that he should abandon his plans (whatever they might be) and to return home.

The Anarchists, upon hearing what had happened, decided on a second meeting point to board the bus, now at 9:00 AM. From the time they boarded the bus, till they were stopped on Road 5, they were followed, first by the plain clothes policeman on his motorcycle, after by others as they headed for their destination.

Road 5 is a settlers’ road it going east-west. It was built for settlers, and is used primarily by them. Their cars continued to whiz by, but the bus was stopped about 20 kilometers over the so-called green line, even though the bus had Israeli license plates. The police took the driver’s driver license and also demanded the keys to the bus. When the driver refused giving up his keys, stating that he needed then to let the motor cool off, the police did not argue, but ordered him to turn around and return to Israel, advising that he was in a closed military area. But all other vehicles with Israeli license plates continued undisturbed down the road’; it therefore became readily apparent that the road was a closed military zone solely for anti-wall and pro peace activists.

The driver received his license back at the checkpoint near the green line (near the turn off to Mas’ha); he was advised to stay out of the Territories.

Following this, the group decided to try to reach their destination by a different road, but with no greater success than before. Near Qalqilya the bus was again stopped at the checkpoint. This time the driver was informed that were he caught again, even one more time, in the Territories, his license would be taken away for 30 days. All this, mind you, while other cars with Israeli plates continued to drive by freely. Of course the fact that most of these were settlers explains why; to the military and the police, at least, settlers have rights denied to ‘leftists’

The Anarchists finally realized that they would not get to where they had been headed, and so decided to change plans. If they could not get into the Occupied Territories, they could nevertheless demonstrate. They decided to meet in the Kiriya on Kaplan across the street from the Defense ministry. There they simulated a wall by blocking the road, sitting on it to stop Israeli drivers from proceeding. There 13 of them were arrested.

At their hearing, the police agreed to release them on condition that the 13 be 5 days under house arrest and refrain for the next 30 days to come within a kilometer of the Kiriya, where they had demonstrated. But their lawyer, Gaby Lasky argued that these conditions were unreasonable, that they contradicted freedom of speech. Judge Muki Lansman agreed with Gaby, and released the 13 on the condition that they refrain for 10 days from coming within 200 meters from the Kiriya and that each sign a guarantee to that effect, with a 2nd person signing for each within 24 hours.
Thanks to Gaby and the Judge, the Anarchists are once again free to raise their voices in protest, except that one of them still had to appear for questioning. If your help is needed, will advise.

No comments: