Activists harassed and arrested in front of Tel Mond prison, Israel


by The Coalition for Palestinian political prisoners

Press release - 6/7/01

About 50 activists gathered in front of Tel Mond Prison today to express solidarity with some 70 Palestinian minors who are in a hunger strike in the prison since July 1. The Palestinian minors are often held together with adult criminal prisoners. Bringing prisoners from the occupied territories to a prison inside Israel is in contravention to international law.

The activists held a peaceful vigil in front of the prison, holding slogans in English, Arabic and Hebrew saying "bring the children home" and "no peace without prisoner release". At one point, Itamar Markovitch, a traffic policeman came and began to harass them and make extremely racist anti-Arab statements. One of the activists wrote down his name, and told him that he will file a complaint for the racist remarks.

Markovitch then decided to arrest him. Another activist identified himself as a lawyer and asked what is the reason for the arrest. Markovitch shoved the lawyer to a car, causing an injury in his face. A third activist asked "why are you hitting him?", and at that point all three were taken to the Kfar Saba police station and charged with "assaulting a police officer" and "rebellion".

The other activists continued to demonstrate and afterwards came to the police station and wanted to give their testimonies. Since the policemen refused to accept their versions, they instead filed complaints against Markovitch`s racist remarks and unjustified arrests. After 5 hours, the three were released without any charges, the only condition being that they won`t make any contact with Markovitch.

While some of the activists which weren`t arrested were waiting in the hall to give their testimonies, Markovitch tried to intimidate them by issuing them traffic tickets and subpoenas.

There are currently 170 Palestinian minors (under 18) in Israeli prisons, 100 in Megido and 70 in Tel Mond. The Coalition for Palestinian political prisoners will plan another demonstration in the next week or two, in solidarity with women Palestinian political prisoners who were beaten by the prison authorities after hunger striking for a week.

The Coalition for Palestinian political prisoners