Two international peace activists have been deported for trying to prevent Israeli soldiers from demolishing a Palestinian home in a refugee camp.
Scottish man Andrew Nuncie was held in a tiny, windowless cell with fellow activist Andreas Konenik of Sweden for 10 days before they were kicked out of the Jewish state.
Nuncie, 29 and Konenik, 20 were arrested last month in the Balata refugee camp near the West Bank town of Nablus and held in a nearby jail.
The Europeans said their cell was tiny and cramped and conditions were harsh, but the treatment of Palestinian prisoners was even worse, with up to eight being held in similar sized cells.
The pair, who belonged to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), had chained themselves to the roof of a house in an attempt to save the family home of Abu Salim.
According to ISM officials, four Palestinian homes had already been demolished in as many days ... a practice which is illegal and has brought strong condemnation from global peace groups.
“It was a very scary experience,” Nuncie told Aljazeera.net.
Nuncie recounted the events leading to the demolition of the house and the subsequent detention of himself and Konenik from his home in Scotland.
“I don’t regret any of my actions, but I’m very frustrated that I’ve been deported because I can’t go back to Palestine.”
“The idea was to delay the entry of Israeli soldiers into the house. We originally thought that they had the wrong house, but Israeli soldiers had taken the neighbour and used him as a human shield.”
The use of human shields is a common method used by soldiers. It involves a Palestinian who is handcuffed and held at gunpoint by Israeli soldiers, he is then forced to try and empty out a house.
“The soldiers were angry to see us chained to the roof, they threatened to shoot us if we didn’t leave, or that they would demolish the house with us in it.”
But soldiers used a hammer to break the locks of the chains. The pair were then handcuffed, blindfolded, and taken away in an army vehicle.
When they arrived at the Ariel police station, Nuncie and Konenik said they were denied access to a lawyer and were told to sign documents that were written in Hebrew. Not being able to read Hebrew, the peace activists refused to sign the papers.
“We were later granted a 10-minute telephone conversation with our lawyer every two to three days,” Nuncie said.
Peace activist Andrew
Nuncie has no regrets
Although unable to understand the court proceedings, Nuncie and Konenik were deported to their respective countries.
“I don’t regret any of my actions, but I’m very frustrated that I’ve been deported because I can’t go back to Palestine.
“ I was doing what I went there to do. Israeli soldiers are in breach of Geneva Conventions – they are perpetrating war crimes. What makes it worse is that it is taking place in a refugee camp.”
Speaking from his home on the west coast of Scotland, Nuncie said he would focus on increasing the public’s awareness to the plight of the Palestinian people.
“The vast majority of people are not aware of what is happening. It is a military occupation which is implementing a general policy of collective punishment.”
An Israeli spokesman at Ariel police station told Aljazeera.net: "They were being held on charges of disturbing soldiers during the destruction of the house."