The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) continues to do remarkable
work deserving of our support. Partners for Peace helped get the ISM's
Adam Shapiro on the BBC and other programs earlier this week and
learned today that his fiancee, Huwaida Arraf, was physically assaulted
(a hard slap across the face) in the past 36 hours by Israeli
occupation forces. Information about her ordeal follows below.
If your local media does not pick up this story from the Church of the
Nativity please ask them why not and provide them with the following
information. Courageous work is taking place but getting very little
* * *
We succeeded to get foodstuffs and "international protection" into the
Church of the Nativity! If you haven't yet seen the reports, please see
The 13 of us that were detained after the action have just been
released for a few hours, I think. We were 8 guys and 5 ladies. After
over 7 hours of being detained and questioned by the Israeli military,
we were finally hand-cuffed and escorted out of Bethlehem. At the
Bethlehem checkpoint, the guys and girls were divided. The five ladies
were pushed into the floor of a police jeep and our legs were bound.
The Israeli police officers drove around for a while then stopped and
pulled one girl out - Ida Fasten, from Sweden, cut her loose and left
her, in the middle of we don't know where, by herself. We were
horrified! They had taken all of our phones and identification, and it
was 2am. When I protested leaving a foreign woman out in the middle of
unfamiliar territory in the middle of the night, with no phone and no
ID, I was physically assaulted -- slapped hard in the face by one of
the officers. Both officers in the jeep refused to give us their names
and badge numbers, despite repeated requests.
When we realized that the officers were going to leave each one of us
in a different place, the four of us left in the jeep agreed on a
meeting place. Four of us are now safe in a hotel in Jerusalem, but we
still don't know where Ida is. We don't know what happened to the guys.
Again, none of us have our phones. We were told to report to a certain
location, 24 Hillel, at 9am - in 4 hours. I pray Ida is there and that
the guys are also safe.
We don't know whether we face arrest or deportation; what we do know
that the presence of the international civilians now inside the Church
of the Nativity is probably a lifesaver. We brought in food and are
offering international presence as protection for the civilians inside
the church from the indiscriminate shooting of the Israeli Army. We are
international civilians upholding international law. Please contact
your governments and ask them to do the same.
In solidarity & struggle,
ISM ENTERS CHURCH OF NATIVITY
by International Solidarity Movement . Thursday May 02, 2002 at 10:03
10 ISM Members managed to enter the besieged Church with food and
BETHLEHEM (May 2, 2002) - Ten members of the International Solidarity
Movement (ISM) entered the besieged Church of Nativity at about 5:45
pm, walking past Israeli occupation soldiers. A further thirteen
persons, working as decoys were arrested by the Israeli soldiers. All
those inside are determined to remain until the Israelis lift their
siege on the city of Bethlehem.
The ISM conceived of an intricate plan to move past Israeli soldiers
outside the Church in several separate but coordinated groups carrying
placards denouncing the ongoing Israeli occupation. In a move
orchestrated with contacts within, two ISM teams were able to reach the
Church and enter its main door before Israeli soldiers could respond.
Every member carried with them food and other critical supplies badly
needed by the Palestinians holed up inside. The Israeli army has denied
the Palestinians, besieged since April 1, 2002, sufficient amounts of
This constitutes the latest in a series of success by the ISM to defy
the Israeli occupation and to demonstrate to the world that the
international community takes a firm stance against the illegal Israeli
occupation of Palestinian territory. In light of the failure for the
international community, namely the United States and the United
Nations to act to help protect the Palestinian people and secure their
universal rights, the ISM has had to operate on its own. Prior to this,
the ISM has twice circumvented Israeli occupation forces to place
activists inside of President Arafat's compound in Ramallah.
Those inside and their respective nationalities are as follows: Nauman
Zaidi (USA), Robert O'Neill (USA), Alister Hillman (UK), Allan
Lindgaard (Denmark), Stefan Coster (Sweden), Erik Algers (Sweden),
Larry Hales (USA), Mary Kelly (Ireland), Kristen Schurr (USA), and
Jacqueline Soohen (Canada)
Those detained by the Israeli army are as follows: Jeff Kingham (USA),
Kate Thomas (UK), Marcia Tubbs (UK), John Caruso (USA), Nathan
Musselman (USA), Nathan Mauger (USA), Trevor Bammgartner (USA), Jo
Harrison (UK), Johannes Walilstram (Sweden), James Hanna (USA), Thomas
Kootsoukos (USA), Ida Fasten (Sweden), Huwaida Arraf (USA)
International Peace Makers Enter Bethlehem Church of the Nativity
Jerusalem, 2 May 2002, 22:30 hours. At 17:40 hours this afternoon a
group of international peace activists of the International Solidarity
Movement (ISM) successfully evaded Israeli military patrols and entered
the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This was the second time in
four days that the ISM attempted to breach the Israeli military siege
of the church to bring sorely-needed food supplies to the 100+ people
taking refuge in this holiest of Christian shrines.
On Monday, 29 April, members of the ISM reached the door of the church
before they were forcefully pulled away before they could enter. This
afternoon they not only reached the interior of the church with
supplies of rice, flour, salt and sweets but left ten of their party in
the church to share the confinement with the resident monks who oversee
the operations of the church and a large number of Palestinians who had
fled to the church for protection during the Israeli invasion a month
ago. A jounalist for the Los Angeles Times also joined with the group
and remained in the church with the ISM members.
On this second penetration of the military cordon around the church,
primary purpose was to put international peace activists in the
structure to underscore to the international community the severity of
the conditions there and the illegality of the Israeli military
occupation of the city of Bethlehem.
The ten ISM activists included five Americans, one Briton, one Dane,
one Swede, one Irish and one Canadian. Three of these are women.
The entry to the church began at 17:40 hours when three ISM groups
totaling 23 activists approached the structure from three directions.
Crossing Manger Square at a steady but rapid walk, they reached the
door of the church which was briefly opened at their arrival. The
Israeli troops stationed around the church and Manger Square appeared
to be taken by surprise and were unable to intercept the activists
before they had successfully crossed the square. Fortunately, no shots
were fired and no tear gas or stun grenades were used by the Israeli
Thirteen ISM members remained outside the church where they were
immediately detained and arrested by the military. This group included
five Americans, three Britons and 2 Swedes. Again, three members of the
detained group were women. A number of mobile telephone calls by the
detained activists indicated that they were not mistreated but being
held by Israeli authorities for questioning. As of this report, no word
has been given of the fate of the detainees. ISM organizers believe
that the detainees may face deportation from Israel.
The ten ISM activists intend to remain in the church until the military
siege is lifted. Before beginning this action, ISM organizer, Ms.
Huwaida Arraf, one of the current detainees, expressed the hope that
the presence of international observers in the church will help deter
the Israeli military from firing into the structure. Over the past
several weeks, several Israeli assaults against the church have been
attempted. The most recent attack occurred last night and resulted in
two fires in the church and, according ot the Mayor of Bethlehem, one
Palestinian killed and two wounded.
Following the breach of the military cordon, a group of ISM members
had remained at the barricades compiled lists of activists in the
church and in Israeli military custody. Names and passport numbers were
reported to the consulates and embassies of the countries from which
the activists came. In addition, information was given to the score or
more of international press corps present at the scene.
This action occurred on the same day that the military siege of the
Presidential Compound at Ramallah was lifted.
The International Solidarity Movement is a Palestinian-based
organization dedicated to non-violent resistance to Israeli occupation.
Founded two years ago, it encourages international peace activists to
come to Palestine to provide non-violent support to the Palestinian
(Written by Dennis B. Warner of Falls Church, Virginia, representing
Pax Christi USA in support of ISM.)