January 25, 2010
In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict
At 3 o’clock in the morning on Monday Israeli immigration police and soldiers stormed the apartment of a Czech NGO worker in the West Bank city of Ramallah and arrested her. According to the Israeli authorities, her crime was having overstayed her tourist visa and she was promptly deported. The Palestinian organisation for which she was working however maintains that she was arrested unlawfully in the most recent of a string of raids on activists in the Israeli-occupied territories.
Eva Nováková began working as a media coordinator for the Palestinian-led International Solidarity Movement only three weeks ago. According to Israeli officials however, she was involved in that time in activities that were incompatible with her over-extended tourist visa – namely helping to organise demonstrations. When she returned to the Czech Republic on Tuesday afternoon after being deported, the 28-year-old Ms. Nováková spoke to reporters about her ordeal.
“About 20 fully armed Israeli soldiers came into my flat at three in the morning yesterday, they then took me to a number of immigration centres. They told me I could either sign a paper saying I wanted to leave as soon as possible or that I could go to court. They did not explain everything to me properly and they wouldn’t allow me to speak to a lawyer before signing.”
Ms Nováková has since spoken to a lawyer, who says that neither the Israeli army nor immigration officers have any jurisdiction in Palestinian controlled Ramallah. According to the International Solidarity Movement, the arrest was part of a more extensive crackdown on non-governmental organisations in the West Bank using immigration policies, among other things, to arrest activists for political purposes. Earlier today I put that view to the Israeli ambassador to the Czech Republic, Jaakov Levy.
“There is no plan in Israel to use immigration policies as a method to tackle any activities of that nature. She overstayed her 90-day tourist visa. And therefore the immigration police arrested her and brought her to the airport where she was allowed to choose a lawyer of her choice.”
There were soldiers on rooftops and she was arrested at 3:00 in the morning though, is that standard procedure?
“It’s not standard procedure for guests in Israel to overstay their visas and engage in activities other than their visas permit – which is tourism normally. I cannot say how many soldiers were there or where they were placed, but I can say for a fact that several soldiers did accompany the immigration police.”
The ISM states its aim as resistance to the Israeli occupation of Palestine using methods of non-violent, direct action, however Israeli officials and politicians have on a number of occasions accused them of connections with and giving aid to terrorists. The cases that have most brought the ISM to public attention have been numerous incidents over the last eight years in which the organisation’s Western protesters have been killed or critically injured in Israeli attacks on Palestinians demonstrations.