Middle East: Italian peace activist detained

Jerusalem, 19 Nov. (AKI) - Three foreign peace activists, among them an Italian citizen are being held in Israel on Wednesday after they were arrested by Israeli forces as they were escorting a group of 15 Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Gaza. However, Italian citizen Vittorio Arrigoni, US citizen Darlene Wallach and British citizen Andrew Muncie remained in an Israeli detention centre at Ben-Gurion International Airport awaiting deportation.

A British MP and a politician have condemned the arrests.

"I have contacted Foreign Office Minster Mark Malloch Brown and asked him to take action to challenge these arrests and demand the release particularly of the UK citizen," said MP Clare Short from Britain's Labour Party, quoted by Palestinian news agency Maan.

"If there is to be any hope of peace in the Middle East, international law must be upheld. This means that the siege of Gaza must be lifted and the constant attacks by the Israeli navy on Gazan fishermen halted,” added Short.

Along with Jennifer Tonge, another British politician, Short sailed to Gaza earlier this month as part of the Free Gaza Movement.

Several dozen politicians and volunteers have sailed from Cyprus to the Palestinian territory since August to bring humanitarian supplies in defiance of the Israeli blockade.

"The time has come for the international community, and especially the European Union to take action against Israel's consistent breaking of international law.

"The EU-Israel Association Agreement should be suspended until Israel complies with this law,” said Tonge.

Israel signed the accord with the EU on closer economic and political ties in 1995, which entered into force in 2000.

Arrigoni, Wallach and Muncie have been volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement, an organisation which advocates non-violent protests against the Israeli army in the Palestinian territories, according to the ISM's website.

They were arrested on Tuesday by the Israeli navy as they accompanied Palestinian fishermen, who have since been released.

The activists serve as 'protection' for the Palestinian fishermen, who are frequently attacked and harassed by Israeli forces, the ISM claims.

The ISM said the boats were seven nautical miles from the shore of Deir al-Balah, which is located within the fishing limit detailed in the 1994 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Arrigoni, Wallach and Muncie had previously taken part in the Free Gaza Movement's humanitarian voyages from Cyprus to Gaza.


print          send



Contact us