Shin Bet Admits Watching Left-wing Activist in West Bank

Activist Bridgette Chappell who lived near Ramallah was arrested in February during West Bank protest and expelled.


Protesters in Gaza carrying a Palestinian flag.

The Shin Bet security service has admitted in an affidavit to the High Court of Justice that has been conducting surveillance of a left-wing Australian activist living in Israel. 

Bridgette Chappell, an activist with the International Solidarity Movement, arrived in Israel in August 2009 and went to live in Bir Zeit, near Ramallah. She took part in protests and was arrested in Bir Zeit at the beginning of February together with another activist, a Spanish citizen. 

Chappell's lawyer, Omer Shatz, petitioned the High Court, which had meanwhile issued a temporary order allowing Chappell to remain in Israeli territory. The petition argues that Israel has no jurisdiction in matters pertaining to population administration in Area A, which is under Palestinian civilian and military control, and therefore Chappell's arrest was illegal. 

The state responded Thursday that Chappell had contravened a 1970 order against unauthorized people remaining in the West Bank for more than 48 hours, and an Israel Defense Forces ban from November 2000 on entry into Area A. The state also declared it has the right to operate in Area A due to the security situation, as the High Court has recognized in past rulings, and that Chappell violated a temporary injunction not to go to the West Bank and is now in Nablus, from which she should be expelled. 

To bolster its arguments, the security service produced an affidavit from an agent, from which it can be deduced that Chappell has been under surveillance. The declaration from him states that "the facts detailed are known to me due to my examination," and that "from information in our possession, it appears that Ms. Chappell is at this time in Nablus." 

"We are pleased that the state has finally admitted that it is the authority in Area A, as if the Oslo Accords have disappeared, and that the 'bantustan' known as the Palestinian Authority has no significance. This straightforward position will certainly interest the U.S. secretary of state, in light of the start of proximity talks," Shatz told Haaretz.