Pro-Palestinian activists detained in Israel denied access to lawyers

Forty pro-Palestinian activists detained in Israel for trying to reach Gaza are being denied access to a lawyer. According to pro-Palestinian activist Ronnie Barkan, Israel’s reaction is nothing less than sheer hysteria.

­“What we just saw at the airport a couple of days ago is not out of the ordinary,” said Barkan. “It is amazing that peace activists who clearly just want to show their solidarity and insist on basic values of universally recognized human rights are considered such a big threat by Israel.”

At least 500 pro-Palestinian activists arrived in Israel in recent days as part of a "flight-illa,” a mission to highlight what they perceive as Palestinian suffering in the West Bank. Fifty activists from among them clashed with security forces in two separate incidents in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh late on Saturday. Some of the protesters hurled stones at Israeli soldiers, who responded by making several arrests.

Israel says all pro-Palestinian activists detained at the country's international airport will soon be sent home.

Barkan said the activists’ actions cannot be called provocative.

“What is happening is that over 500 Europeans and Americans chose to tell the truth and not lie to the border police,” Barkan told RT. “They stated they arrived to visit Palestinians, and were invited by their Palestinian colleagues. For doing this, they received absurd treatment by police and other security forces.”

Barkan, who is a member of the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” movement against Israel, said they simply want Israel to abide by international law.

“Until Israel respects universally-recognized human rights, we will continue to discuss the establishment of the State of Israel as an ethnic racist entity,” stated Barkan. “It led to the expulsion of over 700, 000 native Palestinians who are scattered everywhere around the world these days. Seventy percent of the Palestinians are refugees; others who are now living on Israeli territory do not have equal rights with Israeli citizens.”

­Anan Odeh, an attorney and a human rights lawyer, managed to spend the day with the detained activists. He told RT that their treatment in prison has been awful.

“Most of the detained said that Israeli soldiers and security forces treated them very badly,” said Odeh. “Some claim to have been beaten up by soldiers, who even hit women. The activists were held in tiny rooms at the airport without hearing any explanation of why they were not allowed to enter Israel. They were promised to be taken to hotels, but instead were crammed in vehicles used for transporting prisoners. They were kept there for more than 4-5 hours without water or food.”

The activists did not expect to receive such treatment.

“They came for peaceful activism,” said the lawyer. “They told Israeli security forces they did not want to take part in any demonstrations or break the Israeli law in any way. They just wanted to arrive to the West Bank and to meet the Palestinians and support them.”