An official statement by The International Solidarity Movement (ISM)

Press Release:
May 10, 2002


Ten Internationals Arrested by Israeli Army Inside Nativity Church in Bethlehem
May 10 (Bethlehem) Today at 2:40 pm, the Israeli army stormed the Church of the Nativity and arrested ten internationals, who had risked their lives last week to bring food and medical supplies to the priests, monks and Palestinian citizens held inside the church. Those inside had been reduced to eating grass and leaves until the internationals brought in rice, lentils, salt and other essential foodstuffs. One of the internationals, Mary Kelly - a trained nurse, was able to treat the injured and sick who had been denied access to medical treatment until then.

Yesterday, with the pressure mounting on them to leave, the internationals appealed to President Arafat's office to intervene. President Arafat himself informed the internationals that: as they are Christians inside their church, they are the guests of the church priests. The President told them that the decision to stay or leave is theirs. Regardless of all the calls for the foreign consulates to intervene on their behalf, they literally did nothing to help.

Today, The Israeli army burst into the church and arrested the internationals and moved them out by force.
The Internationals inside the Church within the Palestinian areas refuse to be subject to any Israeli legal procedure and consider their arrestment as an illegal procedure conducted by an occupying power in contradictory to all internationally protected human rights.

At the moment, the internationals are detained on bus in handcuffs and are en route to an unknown location. The lawyer for the internationals has not been informed or provided with any access to them. Four other internationals who were arrested by the Israeli army during the attempt to bring in the food, are being held at Ramle prison by the Israelis and have been hunger striking to protest their deportation since last Thursday. Three are refusing water.
 

The list of the internationals is as follows:
1. Nauman Zaidi, USA
2. Robert O'Neill, USA
3. Larry Hales, USA
4. Kristen Schurr, USA
5. Alister Hillman, UK
6. Allan Lindgaard, Denmark
7. Stefan Coster, Sweden
8. Erik Alger, Sweden
9. Mary Kelly, Ireland
10. Jacqueline Soohen, Canada
 

For further information:
Call: 052 595319 (Ghassan Andoni)
067 467871 (Neta Golan)
052 299310 (George Rishmawi)