Andrew Macdonald, 41, a human-rights worker from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was arrested in downtown Hebron on 1 December, shortly after he had finished escorting Palestinian children to school.

He had been arrested three times before for the same act.

The Israeli occupation army often says activities by international peace organisations and protests against Israel's illegal separation wall and Palestinian home demolitions are "interference in and disruption of army activities".

A Swedish activist affiliated with the ISM, which is made up of foreign, mainly Western, peace volunteers monitoring Israeli human rights violations, described Macdonald's detention as a "targeted arrest".

"They picked him from the street to get him deported," the activist said.

Targeted

The activist, who asked that his name not be revealed for fear of being arrested and deported, accused the Israeli army of targeting Western activists working in occupied Palestinian areas.

Andrew Macdonald said he will try
to extend his visa

"This is not the first time they target a peace activist. In fact, I myself have been targeted as well. They don't want anybody to see what they are doing to these helpless people," he said.

Henry Biran, an ISM activist, told Aljazeera.net that the group uses non-violent methods to monitor Israeli human rights violations in occupied Palestinian areas and often demonstrates against the encroachment of Israel's separation wall on Palestinian land.

Macdonald, who spoke via mobile phone from his jail cell, said he was being kept in solitary confinement at the Tzohar Detention Centre near the Rafah Crossing to Gaza.

Macdonald has been in custody since his arrest on 24 November. He is reportedly kept in a small cell and is not allowed to see other prisoners.

According to an ISM news release, an Israeli police officer from the Special Operations Unit threatened Macdonald, saying he would be forced to leave even if he had to be drugged and shackled and placed onto the next available plane.


The officer also threatened to jail him for two months if he did not comply, the ISM said.

Attacks

Macdonald and other ISM activists maintain a presence in Tel Rumeida, a neighbourhood in the old quarter of Hebron, to monitor daily attacks and acts of harassment by Jewish settlers against Palestinians.

"This is not the first time they target a peace activist. They don't want anybody to see what they are doing to these helpless people (Palestinians)"

ISM activist,
anonymous due to safety concerns

The settlers in Tel Rumeida have tried to expel Palestinian families to seize the land and expand the Jewish enclave.

The Israeli army, which tightly controls the Old City of Hebron, seldom intervenes to protect Palestinians from settler attacks.

Shortly before Macdonald's arrest, the ISM quoted him as saying: "Something very odd is happening here.

"In order to eject people from Israel, they are snatching people out of Palestine, and forcing them into Israel. It is not for Israelis to decide who can stay in Palestine. It is for the Palestinians to decide."

The Swedish activist said Macdonald was being confined to a room without windows and was not allowed to take a bath or recharge his mobile phone.

Visa regulations

An Israeli spokesperson told Aljazeera.net that "Macdonald was in violation of Israeli laws and his visa terms".

Macdonald has refused deportation and says he has an appointment with Israeli passport officials in two weeks to extend the term of his visa.

Since the beginning of what has become known as the al-Aqsa Intifada (uprising) more than five years ago, a number of ISM activists were deported and some were killed in peaceful demonstrations.