Two ISM Activists Arrested by IDF in West Bank Raid

The IDF arrested two foreign activists near Ramallah early yesterday, citing expired visas, according to the two.

The Israel Defense Forces denied that the reason for their arrest was the lack of visas and said that it was security related, but the two activists told Haaretz by telephone from their holding cell that only reason they were told and for which they were questioned, was related to their visa.

Their lawyers are also trying to determine why the two were taken to an Interior Ministry unit, if the reason for their arrest is security related.

The two activists are Spaniard Ariadna Jove Marti and Australian Bridgette Chappell, members of the leftist International Solidarity Movement. They have been in Israel since August and have lived in El-Bireh, a suburb of Ramallah, in Area A under full Palestinian Authority control.

"At about 2:30 at night soldiers opened the door and came in. There were 15-20 soldiers who aimed their guns at us," Marti said in a telephone interview from the holding cell. "They asked for our passports and then asked us to take our things and go with them. They cuffed us and drove us to Ofer Camp."

There they were handed over to the Oz immigration unit of the Defense Ministry.

They said Interior Ministry officials asked them to agree to be expelled immediately from the country.

"They told us that they are taking us to Holon and there we can decide, either we agree to immediate expulsion or that we will be jailed for six months. He told us that we had time until the trip to Holon to decide," Marti added.

The two say that at the Holon headquarters of the unit they were questioned, and that most of the questions dealt with the lack of visas. They refused to sign documents that would see them willfully expelled.

Yesterday noon they were delivered to the Ramle Prison, where they met with an attorney and the Spanish consul. Since their arrest they refused any food and said that they are considering declaring a hunger strike.