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MISSION TO PALESTINE THWARTED: Richmond Delegation Returns Home to Rebuild

Story and photography by Caine Rose

Three Richmond activists with Food Not Bombs formed a delegation to join International Solidarity Movement with its Freedom Summer campaign to resist the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine. The delegation was committed to taking nonviolent direct action against the inhumane occupation and stand as a grassroots media collective to document and expose human rights abuses by the Israeli military forces as well as represent the common voices of the Palestinian people to the world.

On Tuesday, August 7th at 6 AM, a jet touched down on the tarmac at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport carrying among hundreds of others eagerly awaiting entry to Israel, the three Richmonders who had planned for months with much community support from back home. Within minutes of their setting foot on that same tarmac, the mission was realized as having already been compromised. After hours of dizzying rounds of interrogation and body searches, the three delegates were separated and confined to cells, not knowing their fate.

Contact was eventually made, upon demand, with the United States embassy in Tel Aviv via a telephone call placed by one of the Richmonders within the detention facility. An informant had tipped off the Israeli embassy in the States before the delegation had even departed and the Ministry of Interior for Israel were prepared for apprehending the three. No rights were read to the Richmonders and no formal appeal was offered as their laws require. At 6 PM that evening the delegates were escorted by armed guards to a police vehicle and driven to the next departing flight from the airport. Passports were retained by the Israeli police and handed over only to the captain of the airline for the entirety of the flight to London.

The next couple days were spent by the delegation in an attempt to negotiate another way back to the Middle East to join with ISM for the remainder of the Freedom Summer campaign. All roads led to disappointing failure and the delegation was left with little other choice than to return home.

During the same week of the failed attempt of the Richmond delegation to reach Palestine, a US Congressional staff delegation, comprised of American Muslims for Jerusalem and Jews for Peace in Palestine, was denied entry as well. Adam Shapiro, founding member of International Solidarity Movement was also forced to leave Israel after a brutal arrest during a nonviolent demonstration in the Occupied West Bank. Others were assaulted and deported during the same show of solidarity with the Palestinians. What is Israel trying to hide? What is Israel trying to deny?

On Tuesday, August 20th at the Pace Center(700 W. Franklin St.)a gathering will be held to discuss the recent events in Palestine and delegation members will be on hand to answer any questions concerning their ordeal. All are invited to this informal forum at 7 PM to show solidarity with those who suffer at the despotic hand of imperialism in Occupied Palestine.
[ Food Not Bombs of Richmond | International Solidarity Movement ]


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