The Common Good
September-October 2003

Open Season on Activists?

by Rose Marie Berger, Kate Bowman | September-October 2003

Standing for peace in a war zone is never easy, but it's becoming
next to impossible for Middle East human rights groups.

Standing for peace in a war zone is never easy, but it's becoming next to impossible for Middle East human rights groups. Israel has instituted a new wave of restrictions on internationals who want to enter the region, citing that the presence of groups such as the International Solidarity Movement endangers Israeli soldiers and the groups' own members. In May, Israeli soldiers raided ISM offices in the West Bank, arresting one Palestinian and two foreign volunteers, one of whom is awaiting deportation. The government maintains that tough policies, such as arrests and deportations, are necessary due to legitimate security concerns. For example, a British suicide bomber's recent attack on a nightclub followed quickly on the heels of the deaths and injuries of several foreign activists. Peace groups, however, believe the intent of the crackdown is to remove eyewitnesses from the region and prevent scrutiny of the conduct of the Israeli Defense Force. At a recent press conference, peace groups called on Israel to lift the new restrictions. "Human rights monitoring should be part and parcel of the road map to peace," said Rory Mungoven of Human Rights Watch.

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