News and opinions on situation in the Middle East
13/11/03 WASHINGTON RESIDENT ARRESTED IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE WHILE NONVIOLENTLY PROTESTING THE ISRAELI WALL BUILT THROUGH OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 13, 2003
Contact:
Linda Bevis 206 633-1086 (ISM-Seattle)
John Reese 206-650-0834 (Stop the Wall Campaign)
Radhika S. (English & Spanish) 011 972 65 203 596 (Occupied Territories)
Flo (English) 011 972 67 361 708 (OT) (present at the action)
Abed al Karim (Arabic & English) 011 972 55 474 066 (0T)

Only four days after 300 Seattleites joined an international day of protest against Israel’s Wall, Bruce Groeneveld, 27, from Seattle and Bridgeport Washington, has been arrested by Israeli police while nonviolently protesting at the Wall itself. Groeneveld, a social justice activist who works as a cook and bartender, travelled to the Middle East hoping to "learn about Muslim and Jewish culture and what it’s like to live in a place under illegal occupation." The Israeli Wall cuts deep into Palestinian territory, dividing communities in two, confiscating Palestinian land and water, and serving no protective purpose.

According to eyewitnesses, Bruce was one of 330 peaceful demonstrators who were attacked by Israeli soldiers with teargas, percussion grenades, and batons. Bruce was attempting to nonviolently prevent the singling out of another protestor when he was arrested. He is currently being held at Ariel Settlement Police Station and will have a hearing on Friday in Ramleh, Israel.

Groeneveld grew up in Bridgeport, a small town in north central Washington, and attended Central Washington University, where he studied philosophy. Marc Mazique, who met Groeneveld in a nonviolence training in March, says: "Bruce is a warm, humble, intelligent guy who is disturbed by the fact that US tax dollars --his money-- goes to support an illegal occupation rife with flagrant human rights violations. Committed to pacifism, he decided to travel to Palestine to nonviolently support the people in the Occupied Territories in their everyday struggle."

Groeneveld was part of the group "Against the Wall" which travelled to the Occupied Territories earlier this month to join the nonviolent International Solidarity Movement to End the Israeli Occupation. Groeneveld said he was going because he sees "flagrant violations of the 4th Geneva Convention and find them intolerable. I hope to be an example of non-violent problem solving."

Rachel Bade, another member of the group, said today that they went "to stop the brutal and unjust occupation of innocent Palestinians."

Video evidence shows that Bruce was being completely nonviolent when arrested. Bade said that "Bruce is very committed to nonviolence at all times and would never harm another human being."

According to the International Solidarity Movement press release sent today from Bethlehem:

"At 11:30am on Thursday, November 13, Palestinians from Tulkarem and surrounding villages together with International Solidarity Movement and the International Women's Peace Team marched towards a gate in the wall outside of the village of Baka Sharqia, waving Palestinian flags and chanting ‘The Wall Must Fall.’

"Members of the Swedish Parliament were also present. Within minutes of starting the peaceful march, Israeli Forces fired percussion grenades and teargas into the crowd. Due to the Israeli Army's violent response, the demonstrators dispersed and regrouped several times in order to continue the nonviolent protest, each time sustaining more injuries. Israeli soldiers attempted to arrest one Jewish-American volunteer over five times, but were unsuccessful.

"During the arrest attempts soldiers beat a Welsh volunteer leaving a seven-inch welt on his back, hit an American bruising his arm, repeatedly kicked an Irish man, pulling out a clump of his hair. The 73-year-old Welsh man was also hit with a baton. Several Palestinians and internationals were hit by scalding teargas canisters shot from rifles including: 2 Danes aged 65 an 67, and a Welsh man aged 73.

"Two Palestinian women were hit by tear gas canisters, causing burning and several others were also beaten by soldier's wielding batons. Today's violent response by the Israeli Army towards peaceful opposition to the Wall and the ghettoization of the West Bank is yet another indication that even nonviolent resistance to the Occupation will not be tolerated. Despite this intolerance, Palestinians and internationals will continue nonviolent action against the Wall in the Tulkarem region."

John Reese, a Seattle resident who has documented the environmental and human effects of the Wall on Palestinians, noted that "The Wall is higher than the Berlin Wall, will take millions of American tax dollars to build, and cuts the West Bank in two: confiscating some of the richest Palestinian farmland and many wells for Israeli use." PENGON, a Palestinian environmental organization, has released studies showing that Israel's latest project of dispossession has already uprooted tens of thousands of Palestinian fruit and olive trees and has destroyed or isolated from Palestinian farmers tens of thousands of dunams of farmland, de facto confiscating the Palestinian people's most fertile land and most important water wells.

Entire farming communities are losing all of their agricultural land. An estimated 10%-40% of the West Bank will be confiscated by and for Israel by the path of this Wall. Over 31 groundwater wells will be in the confiscated areas of the Wall's first phase. A number of villages ar to lose their only sources of water. Land confiscation, destruction, and severe restriction of movement will translate into the loss of over 6,500 jobs.

Over 100 buildings have been destroyed to make way for the Wall, mainly shops, an important source of income for families and communities At least 17 Palestinian communities will be trapped between the wall and the Green Line (the border between Israel and the Occupied Territories). Some communities will be surrounded on all sides by the Wall. If completed as planned, some 95,000 Palestinians will be isolated. A number of small villages have been scheduled for demolition because of their proximity to the Wall.

More information on the Wall:

http://www.pengon.org
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article1546.shtml

These links have additional information on the wall including maps.

http://www.gush-shalom.org/thewall/index.html
http://www.poica.org/casestudies/Changing%20Wall%20Path%2016-06-03/index.htm

More information on the ISM: www.palsolidarity.org

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