Articles Comments

The Only Democracy? » Human Rights Activists in the Crosshairs » Bridget Chappell: “Iron Fist Against Nonviolent Resisters”

Bridget Chappell: “Iron Fist Against Nonviolent Resisters”

Bridget Chappell, whose own arrest was reported in our earlier post, has another account of Israel’s crackdown on nonviolent resisters.

Wael al-Faqeeh has been held without charge by the Israeli military since his arrest on 9 December 2009. The 28 January hearing that lasted approximately three minutes here in Salem court resulted in the extension of his detention by a further ten days. It was presided over by three military officers who constitute the panel of judges, and ten very young soldiers who forcefully ensured al-Faqeeh remained out of reach from those who came to see him.

Faqeeh’s crime, which resulting in him being seized in night in front of his family?

The struggle of rural Palestinians is one that al-Faqeeh champions passionately, in his organization of the annual olive harvest in the Nablus region and year-round support for farmers attempting to live their lives under threats of intimidation and harassment from settlers and soldiers”.

Chappell explains the dubious legal basis for this arrest and many others.

“The laws comprising the basis of al-Faqeeh’s arrest stand amongst the some 2,500 individual Israeli military laws and orders applicable in the West Bank. Their implementation commenced as soon as it became possible to do so, virtually from day one of its occupation in 1967. Military proclamation no. 1, issued on 7 June 1967, states that “in the interests of security and public order” all legal authority remains in the hands of the military commander. The extent of military law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) has since swelled and grown to facilitate everything from imprisonment to land confiscation. Laws may be introduced or adjusted at any time, without the requirement to announce such implementations, frequently resulting in the apprehension and indictment of Palestinians who were not even aware that they were committing a crime.”

She ends on a hopeful note, linking the protests to an earlier wave of Palestinian nonviolent resistance.

“These recent attempts to suppress Palestinian nonviolent resistance and its leaders like Wael al-Faqeeh are reminiscent of the early days of the first Palestinian intifada. During that period, peaceful mobilization sent Israeli military commanders scrambling, as their brute force was rendered impotent against its tactics — and the worldwide condemnation they engendered. The demonstrations of Bilin, Budrus, Jayyous, Iraq Burin and countless other villages have captured the minds (and media attention) of those beyond Palestine’s borders and highlight Israel’s disproportionate use of force against unarmed activists. It is only a matter of time before Israel is held accountable for its draconian systems of human rights abuse, military laws and prisons.”

Jonathan Cook reports that the arrest of  Chappell and other international democracy activists was carried out by a “special unit known as Oz, originally established to arrest migrant laborers working illegally inside Israel.” It is a sign of how afraid of the world Israel has that both people seeking decent lives for themselves and decent treatment for Palestinians are equally criminalized. 

Written by

JESSE BACON (Philadelphia) is a freelance activist and father. He has a Masters in teaching from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He is an observant progressive Jew, and is trying to be a good ally for Palestinians and all dispossessed peoples, while staying true to the best traditions in Judaism. He visited Israel and Palestine in 1996, 2001, and 2002. He served for three years on the local steering committee of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, and one year on the board of Pursue the Peace in Seattle. Read his posts here.

Filed under: Human Rights Activists in the Crosshairs · Tags: ,

Comments are closed.