Israel and Jordan deny Western pro-Palestinian activists access to West Bank to deliver aid
By End the Lie
According to multiple reports, both Israel and Jordan have denied entry to a group of pro-Palestinian activists from the United States and Europe who were attempting to deliver aid to students in the West Bank.
This action coming from Israel, while hardly surprising, is quite troubling. Keep in mind that Israel has repeatedly stated that the only acceptable method of bringing humanitarian aid into the Occupied Palestinian Territories is by land, thus supposedly justifying their blockade on Gaza. All attempts to break this blockade have been thwarted, which just acts to increase anti-Israeli sentiment in the region and around the world.
The spokeswoman for the group leading the mission, “Welcome to Palestine,” stated that one of the buses transporting activists was allowed to pass by Jordanian authorities before being stopped by the Israelis.
“The [Israeli] authorities took all their passports and stamped ‘entry denied’ on all of them and told them to return,” the spokeswoman, Olivia Zemor, said to Agence France-Presse.
“The second bus was prevented [from crossing] by the Jordanians at the request of the Israeli authorities. They obeyed the orders of the Israelis,” Zemor said.
“One police officer told us that ‘we got orders from Israel. We cannot let you leave’. We demanded explanation and nobody gave us any explanation. Then some of us demonstrated,” she added.
According to an Israeli official with the defense ministry in Jerusalem, the Israeli authorities did indeed deny the activists entry to the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge crossing.
However, the official did not refer to them as activists delivering aid to students, as AFP did, instead characterizing them as “provocateurs, rioters and known troublemakers,” which is hardly surprising.
“A small group of provocateurs, rioters and known troublemakers arrived at the Allenby crossing earlier today,” said the official.
“The state of Israel exercised its right to refuse their entry, and they returned to Jordan,” the unnamed official added.
Interestingly, the current reports do not concur with earlier reports on August 26, 2012 from Walid Attalah, a spokesman for “Welcome to Palestine” in Jordan.
Attalah reportedly told AFP that the two buses carrying the activists had actually been blocked by the Jordanian authorities, not the Israeli authorities.
Similarly, Iran’s Press TV reported that it was indeed the Jordanian authorities, not Israelis, who refused to allow the activists to cross.
“This was deliberate. Jordan did not want Israel to be held responsible for denying the activists entry,” said Atallah, according to Press TV.
This is obviously a completely different picture than the one presented by the unnamed Israeli official and AFP. One must wonder why Jordan would have any incentive to lie for Israel’s sake since they clearly have no problem owning up to denying the activists entry.
According to Atallah, “Two buses carrying 100 activists were not allowed to leave the Jordanian side” of the Allenby Bridge crossing, also known as the King Hussein Bridge, between Jordan and the West Bank.
“Activists left the buses and started to demonstrate near the checkpoint. One of them fainted and was taken to hospital,” stated Atallah.
According to AFP, the campaign conducted by “Welcome to Palestine” is “aimed at highlighting Israel’s control over entry to the occupied territories,” and the toys, pens, notebooks and other supplies being brought into the West Bank were just “part of the campaign.”
“This is our fourth initiative to enter Palestine,” said Zemor. “We have around 100 participants, from France, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, the United States, aged between 10 and 50. All kinds of people, from all backgrounds and religions. They are all motivated to visit Palestine.”
A total of five buses were carrying the activists, chanting “Free Palestine” and singing traditional Palestinian songs while some wore T-shirts emblazoned with “I have a dream.”
The same campaigners were reportedly denied entry to the West Bank via Israel in both July 2011 and April of this year by officials at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.
According to the activists, they were invited by Abdel-Fatah Hamayel, the governor of Bethlehem, and they reportedly planned to stay for a week in the West Bank although some of activists didn’t seem to expect to be allowed in at all.
“I tried in July last year and April, but the Israelis put me in prison for one day. I expect they will reject us again just like they did before. It is ridiculous and a shame,” said Michael Rabb, an American volunteer, according to AFP.
In my opinion, it’s quite ludicrous for Israel to deny entry to these activists when they constantly claim that they will allow humanitarian aid into the occupied territories so long as they don’t attempt to do it in violation of the Israeli blockade.
It appears to me that they do not want to allow these pro-Palestinian activists in no matter how they attempt to enter.
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