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Update on Kate in Prison, and Impeding Palestinians Elections
by ISM
Friday Dec 24th, 2004 9:02 AM
1) Press Release: Jewish American Activist Plans to Put Israel's Wall
on Trial

2) Kate Raphael Bender Writes from Prison

3) Israeli Occupation Forces Shooting Shadows in Asira al Shamaliya

4) Press Release: "BLAIR MUST CONDEMN OCCUPATION" SAY BRITISH
NATIONALS UNDER CURFEW IN WEST BANK

5) Press Release: Israeli Authorities Impede First Palestinian
Municipal Elections
1) Press Release: Jewish American Activist Plans to Put Israel's Wall
on Trial

2) Kate Raphael Bender Writes from Prison

3) Israeli Occupation Forces Shooting Shadows in Asira al Shamaliya

4) Press Release: "BLAIR MUST CONDEMN OCCUPATION" SAY BRITISH
NATIONALS UNDER CURFEW IN WEST BANK

5) Press Release: Israeli Authorities Impede First Palestinian
Municipal Elections


1) JEWISH AMERICAN ACTIVIST PLANS TO PUT ISRAEL'S WALL ON TRIAL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dec. 22, 2004

Activist Kate Raphael Bender plans to put Israel's Wall on trial.
Bender, a Jewish lesbian activist from the Bay Area in the United
States, was arrested on December 14 at a protest against the
construction of the Apartheid Wall in Bil'in village in the Ramallah
district.

Bender and Kelly Minio-Paluetto, 23, of Madison Wisconsin were
arrested while filming a group of Israeli border police severely
beating a teenage Palestinian. The two women have been issued
deportation orders and are being held in Tsohar Prison near Israel's
border with Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

Bender filed an appeal in Israeli Court Monday requesting that the
order to deport her be revoked. She states in her appeal, "The
Apartheid Wall has been held to be illegal by the International Court
of Justice. Israel has been ordered to cease construction of the
Wall. The International Court ruling requires foreign governments to
take steps to force Israel to comply with the ruling. Foreign
governments have not met this obligation."

The appeal goes on to point out that, "Israeli Occupation of
Palestinian lands in the West Bank and Gaza is illegal under UN
Resolution 242. The U.S. government continues to fund the Occupation
with 13 million dollars a day."

"Apartheid is defined by the United Nations High Commission on Human
Rights as a crime against humanity. Israel is guilty of the crime of
apartheid based on its legal discrimination between ethnic and
religious groups in regard to ownership of land and property,
immigration rights, citizenship rights, political freedoms, and
access to benefits."

Bender argues that the Israeli government has no right to deport her
for trying to prevent it from committing illegal acts. She cites the
partisans in Nazi occupied Europe and the international brigades who
fought in the Spanish Civil War as examples of international citizens
who intervened to prevent atrocities when their governments refused
to act.

Bender has spent 12 of the last 15 months in the Occupied Palestinian
Territories volunteering with Palestinian and international human
rights groups. She will represent herself in the appeal process.
Israel has deported dozens of foreign activists in the last two
years. This is the first time that someone has based their appeal on
the responsibility of individuals to take action when governments do
not. The appeal stays the deportation order, but bail has been
denied, so Bender will await her court hearing in jail.

CONTACT
Kate Raphael Bender: 972(0)547-870-198
Lisa Belenky: 415-863-8604 (USA)


* * *

2) Kate from Prison

This is a more personal account of Kate's past day and a half. Kate
and Kelly were moved yesterday from Hadera in the north to Tsochar
in the south. This, from Kate's journal, is an account of the trip
and the arrival at Tsochar, where Kate and Kelly were separated:

They told us we would be leaving at 7:30 am. Seems to me like spite,
moving everyone on visiting day. And visits start at 9:30, so by
moving us at 7:30, they assure that people cannot get their things,
things they might need to go home with or see their friends to say
goodbye. It feels even more spiteful at 8:20 when they tell us we'll
be leaving at 9:30. We've been up since 6:30 to be ready. Our
friends could have come after all. Dorothy and Shelly make it for a
brief visit, bringing coffee, pretzels, chocolate, and balloons.

They call us to come and we do, 25 of us or so, dragging suitcases
and tote bags. We hug our friends who are staying behind. Yu Se
Fung clings to me, crying a little. I put her number in my phone.
We crowd into the exercise area, a cage about 40 meters square.
Looking around I flash on scenes I have seen from Ellis Island:
deportees with their scant belongings, all they have to take with
them from the land where they tried to make a better life.

Police sort our paperwork, trying to match it with our faces. They
yell at us to close our phones or they will take them away. We all
obey without protest. Your phone is your prized possession in prison.

They load us onto a bus and our bags go on another van. I feel silly
with my balloons, as if I'm going away on the Love Boat or something,
but it's amusing to watch the policeman bump their heads on them all
the time.

At 2:30 we reach Tsochar. It's a brand new facility - about a year
old. It's built with some of the special grant money given by the US
government to help Israel rid itself of the menace of so many maids,
construction workers, elderly care workers, and prostitutes. (Israel
has deported 100,000 foreign workers in the past year alone, and is
planning to deport another hundred thousand this year.) Tsochar
looks just like the pictures I have seen of immigration prisons along
the US-Mexico border; possibly it was built by the same company.
There are two huge watchtowers with bright lights next to them that
shine in our windows all night. It is a series of cages within
cages, chicken wire topped with barbed wire. Wherever you look is a
cage.

In Hadera, when I complained about men coming into our room, I was
told that the rule was that they always had to be with a woman, which
they were not. But here at Tsochar, it is almost always men who come
in alone. Most are Russian speaking and the story is that they have
a liaison with the Russian speaking prisoners, exchanging food,
cigarettes, and favors for information and sex. My observation of
their behavior together makes me suspect the
rumors are true.

I asked the men why they didn't come with women police and they
said, "We don't have enough women." But since they've hired 500 new
immigration police in the last 2 years, couldn't they hire some
women? There are no doors on the cells where we sleep or on the
shower, though the toilets have doors that lock. Well, one locks and
one is broken. All the plumbing is faulty; there's a leak in one of
the toilets and another under the sink. The floor is always wet in
the bathroom area and as in Hadera there are only the bathroom sinks
to wash dishes in so we always eat in our room.

When they came it at 7:30 this morning and yelled "USA!" I
replied, "That's not anyone's name." This is how they refer to the
women here: China! Romania! USA! If there's more than one from that
country, they expect everyone to get up and then they will sort out
who they want. Sometimes when forced they come up with a descriptive
designation: "Aefo China Hahadasha?" (Where is the new China?) When
I hear them calling, "Mongolia, boi!" (come), I'm reminded of the
Woody Guthrie song: "You won't have your name when you ride the big
airplane, all they will call you will be
`Deportee.'"


* * *

3) Israeli Occupation Forces Shooting Shadows in Asira al Shamaliya

At about 9pm on Tuesday 21 December the second vehicle of an Israeli
Occupation Forces convoy speeding through the village of Asira al
Shamaliya was struck by a molotov cocktail. The leading vehicle, an
APC, stopped abruptly, and the following humvee crashed into it.
Clearly the convoy expected a more serious attack to follow as they
immediately began to fire indiscriminately into nearby buildings,
particularly the village boys' school. The occupants of the humvee
were quickly evacuated and the fire extinguished. However intense
Israeli firing continued. Reinforcements were bought in to sustain
the fight with the non-existant gunmen and impose a curfew. At the
height of this one sided exchange about 30 IOF vehicles were racing
round the village announcing the curfew, and firing live rounds at
Palestinian youths throwing stones at APCs and jeeps.

Sporadic and occasionally intense firing continued for over two
hours. The curfew was maintained Wednesday, with sporadic live fire
directed at stone throwers and near residents brave enough the
venture outdoors. It is difficult for them to know when the curfew
has been lifted, generally they assume it has after the IOF have been
absent for some time. This appeared to be the case early this
evening, and there was some optimism that school exams would be able
to start as scheduled tomorrow, but jeeps re-entered the village at
about 8pm, dimming hopes of a return to normality and a lower level
of harassment.


* * *


4) "BLAIR MUST CONDEMN OCCUPATION" SAY BRITISH NATIONALS UNDER
CURFEW IN WEST BANK

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 23, 2004

It is not enough for Tony Blair to support Palestinian elections,"
say two British nationals spending the last nights under curfew in
the West Bank village of Asira al Shamaliya. "He must back the
International Court of Justice in entirely condemning the Israeli
occupation of Palestine and demanding its immediate end."

The British nationals are part of an International Solidarity
Movement group, who have maintained a week's presence in the mountain
villages of Asira and Talluzah. For ten days these villages have been
subject to constant harassment by the Israeli Occupation Forces, who
have imposed random "flying" checkpoints and intermittent curfews.

Internationals have repeatedly witnessed intimidation and abuse of
local people by soldiers. Villagers have also for days at a time been
prevented from leaving their houses to attend school, university,
work, or access medical care. Talluzah schools were closed for seven
days, until Internationals were able to accompany teachers and
students through checkpoints on Saturday. Exams are beginning, and
students cannot be confident they will be able to attend them.

"I want my Prime Minister to come and see what I have seen," said
Kate, a 30 year old British woman. "I have waited in near-freezing
temperatures with children whose right to go to school seems to be
withheld at the whim of soldiers in armoured vehicles, and whose
sleep is disrupted by what appears to be completely untargeted
shooting outside their homes. Last week these children had to study
from exams while short on food. Perhaps a glimpse of this reality
would motivate Tony Blair to take the stance that Israel must end its
illegal occupation immediately."

"Free and fair elections seem a laughable concept when neither voters
nor candidates can move freely through their own country", commented
Andrew, from Britain. "But not only elections are difficult under the
occupation. Any sort of life at all is extremely difficult. Not only
do the villagers of Talluzah and Asira al Shamaliya have no idea why
they on the receiving end of this current treatment, even the Israeli
soldiers don't seem to know the reason – their behaviour seems
entirely random."

Tonight the British nationals and their group will remain in the two
villages in the hope of alleviating some of the pressure Palestinian
people live under daily.


Andrew and Kate: 972-54-772-1687
ISM Media Office: 972-59-6767-82 or 972-54-6253-451



* * *

5) Israeli Authorities Impede First Palestinian Municipal Elections

FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE

December 22, 2004

Israeli authorities have given assurances that Palestinians' first
municipal elections in Ya'bad, Arraba and Tubas would be allowed to
be conducted without interference. Tonight, on the even of the
election, Israeli authorities contacted the Palestinian Authority and
ordered official Palestinian election security to leave the town of
Ya'bad in the Jenin District.

The Palestinian Authority is using the three municipalities to trial
the municipal election process. Voting will be open to the
electorate between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM on December 23, 2004.
Municipal elections have not been held in Palestine since 1976
because of Israeli occupation and continued repression of any
possible democratic process in Palestine.

Four internationals from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM)
present in Ya'bad learned this evening at 7:00 PM that the official
Palestinian election security was being ordered to leave the town.
The internationals are present to observe and document any Israeli
interference during the Palestinian election period.

Palestinian security was in Ya'bad to prevent any possible tampering
with the electoral ballots and boxes that had been delivered to the
town earlier in the evening, and to prevent any possible conflicts
between supporters of rival candidates.

Israeli authorities declared that because Ya'bad is in "Area B", all
official Palestinian election security must be accompanied by Israeli
military. They instructed Palestinian security to leave Ya'bad for
the city of Jenin and to return back to Ya'bad tomorrow morning at
5:30 AM accompanied by Israeli military forces. Palestinian security
left Ya'bad at 7:40 PM.

Israeli interference jeopardizes the actual or perceived validity of
the outcome of the elections. Internationals will be present in the
municipalities of Ya'bad, Arraba and Tubas to observe any further
Israeli interference.

Media Contacts:

In Ya'bad:
Basim (Arabic speaker): 059-263-173 or 052-557-667
Chris: (English Speaker): 059-676-088

ISM Media:
Sam: 054-6-253-451