News and opinions on situation in the Middle East
09/02/04 Budrus, the Wall, Tom Hurndall/James Miller investigation
  1. International Women Peace Service Press Statement.
  2. British Police Investigation into Killing Of Tom Hurndall To Extend Its Remit To Include The Killing Of James Miller
  3. Challenges ICJ Authority, But Critical of The Barrier

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1) International Womens Peace Service, Press Statement

February 4, 2004 8pm

The village of Budrus, West Ramallah, Occupied Palestine was told today by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) that the Apartheid Wall’s bulldozers will start destroying more land from tomorrow onwards. About 600 villagers, along with dozens of Israeli and international activists, will take to the land as soon as the bulldozers are sighted and use their bodies to prevent the Apartheid Wall from destroying more Budrus land. It is expected that the IOF will escalate the massive amounts of force they have used in the past month.

There will also be a massive demonstration against the wall on Friday at 12:30pm on the Budrus land.

The tiny village has attracted international attention for its courageous attempts to use non-violent direct action to stop the Apartheid Wall, which will confiscate 90% of the village land. Young girls and old women alike have thrown themselves in front of bulldozers and have managed to delay the building of the Apartheid Wall for more than four months.

Their peaceful resistance has cost them dearly – 10 village activists are in jail and over 40 have been injured by the Israeli Occupation Forces. Budrus activist Na’eem Morar, who was kidnapped from his bed at 2am three weeks ago, was summarily moved to the Ketziot prison in the Negev Desert just days ago. His appeal against his unjust sentence of four months administrative detention will be heard on February 18th 2004.

The villagers say they are resisting the Apartheid Wall because they don’t want to live in a ghetto, or to become additional Palestinian refugees. Budrus village has been greatly spurred to resist after seeing the impact of the Wall in nearby villages, like Mas’ha. In Mas’ha village, the Amer family has been cut off from the rest of the village and is completely surrounded by the wall and the fence.

This punishment was exacted upon the Amer family after they refused to sell their house, which fell in the path of the Wall, to the Israeli regime. The house has become known internationally as the “one family bantustan”. This week, Hani Amer was fired from his job because the soldiers do not allow him through the gates at regular times. The family was also told that if any soldier sees anybody visiting them, their house will be demolished. Filmmakers from all over the world have had to interview the Amer family outside their home, through the holes in the gate, even in the pouring rain.

The demonstrations against the wall in Budrus have lately taken the form of replanting the small piece of land that has been bulldozed for the wall. Other villages in the area have decided to take similar action against the land theft of the Israeli Occupation Forces. Today, international and Israeli activists normally join the Budrus people in their efforts to stop the wall, as well as Rabbis for Human Rights, replanted dozens of olive trees in the nearby village of Deir Ballut. Two weeks ago, 30 soldiers, policemen and workers with three jeeps and two vans arrived at two Deir Ballut fields. In a well organised mafia-style operation, they stole 50 peach trees, 200 vine saplings, 50 three year old olive trees, 200 three year old fig trees, a gate and 150 metal poles. Rabbi for Human Rights leader Arik Asherman said today “we don’t know if the trees will stay, but if they don’t, we plant them again.”

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February 4, 2004

For Immediate Release(ISM)

2) BRITISH POLICE INVESTIGATION INTO KILLING OF TOM HURNDALL TO EXTEND ITS REMIT TO INCLUDE THE KILLING OF JAMES MILLER

In a rare move Dr Knapman – the Coroner for Westminster, has agreed to transfer the jurisdiction of the inquest into the death of Tom Hurndall in Rafah, Gaza last April, to the jurisdiction of Dr. Reed– the Coroner for Camden. Dr Reed is currently responsible for the inquest into the death of James Miller another British national who was killed just over a week after Tom in Gaza. After hearing oral argument and receiving written representations from the lawyers for the family of Tom Hurndall – Imran Khan & Partners, on the need for the inquest to explore the systemic issues behind a series of killings of British nationals in the Occupied Territories – Ian Hook, Tom Hurndall and James Miller (in line with the House of Lords judgement in Amin), Coroner Knapman gave the go ahead for the transfer to take place.

The transfer which was made possible under section 14 of the Coroners Act 1988, recognises that because a series of deaths has occurred in similar circumstances and over a relatively short space of time, it is unlikely that each incident is an isolated incident and that as more than one of the incidents fall within the jurisdiction of one coroner, it is incumbent upon the investigating Coroner to explore all systemic causes and simultaneously gather evidence pertinent to all cases – to establish to what degree ‘the incidents are the product of a more complex systemic problem’ Dr Reed has confirmed that he intends to extend the remit of the Serious Crime Directive of the Metropolitan Police to include an investigation into the death of James Miller.

The family of Tom Hurndall and of James Miller both welcomed the news yesterday and believe that this represents a major development in their attempts to get at the truth behind the killings. Jocelyn Hurndall – Tom’s mother restated her concerns that ‘whilst there had been an arrest and an indictment in the case of the killing of her son, she was conscious of attempts by the Israeli Defence Force to distance themselves from the responsibility of creating what was clearly a culture of killing with impunity within the Occupied Territories.’ She said that ‘it was important that Tom’s life counted for something and that all efforts must be made to get at the root cause of the killings so that they cannot happen again.’

For more information please contact family spokesperson:
Carl Arrindell: +44 (1) 634 831975
See: www.tomhurndall.co.uk/press-release-4-2-04.asp

See Also:

Second Gaza death to be investigated by Met www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1140551,00.html

INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT

www.palsolidarity.org

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3) EU, Challenges ICJ Authority, But Critical of The Barrier

February 5, 2004 (www.imemc.org)

The European Union expressed a serious criticism of Israel’s separation wall and cited an official condemnation in its brief submitted to the International court of Justice in The Hague. The brief, however, voices reservation over the court authority to rule on the wall issue. The document considered the issue as rather political and lacks legal nature.Israeli officials welcomed the EU reservations over the court authority, but condemned the submitted criticisms against the wall.

Few European countries submitted their own briefs. In its brief, France recommended that the case should not be dealt with in the tribunal, however, said that if the judges decided to go ahead with the hearing, France considers the wall to be illegal. In their briefs, Switzerland and Sweden supported the Palestinian position against the wall. Sweden did not dispute the authority of the court to deal with this issue.

On the other hand, Israeli political sources expressed satisfaction with the British and the German briefs, in which both expressed reservations the court authority to look into the issue. Both British and Americans while cased similar reservations, included in their briefs criticisms to the current route of the wall. As chances for canceling the hearings are seen as slim, Israel is getting ready to the upcoming session at The Hague. The head of the security team of the Israeli steering committee dealing with The Hague, Brigadier General Mike Herzog, has compiled needed security data about the wall.

The three parts document, consists of analysis and background information about the wall including data about Palestinian resistance attacks against Israel and an explanation about the construction of the wall including the route of the wall and the so far results of the wall with regards to preventing attacks from Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank.

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