Israel has exposed the extent of its crackdown on resistance in an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court on April 29, claiming that the Shin Bet intelligence agency has been conducting surveillance on ISM activist and Australian citizen Bridget Chappell in Area A of the West Bank. The affidavit claims that her arrest and continuing surveillance of her movements is justified on account of various Israeli military orders, highlighting its overall authority in its implementation of apartheid in the Occupied Territories and its total disregard for the sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority and the Oslo Accords.
“My arrest from Ramallah in February and the Shin Bet’s new claim that I am under surveillance in Area A of the West Bank serves to further abolish the myth of Palestinian control in the West Bank,” says Chappell. “It’s clear that Israel is the authority in the Territories and that this is apartheid. Israel’s matrix of control in the occupied territories extends not only to the entire Palestinian population, but international activists involved in the popular resistance here, which is very dangerous grounds for them as their attempts to crack down on our participation in the struggle focuses the eyes of the world on what Israel has hoped to execute as a very stealthy and systematic bantustanization of Palestine.”
The state’s affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court on April 29 claimed that the arrest of Chappell was based on her violation of a 1970 military order stating that non-residents of the West Bank are prohibited from staying in the area longer than 48 hours without written permission from the military commander of the region. This is in-keeping with what may become Israel’s strategy of removing internationals from the Palestinian territories via the system of martial law enforced in the West Bank since the military occupation in 1967. Attempted implementation of these military laws on internationals in Palestine will spell the exposure of one of Israel’s most veiled weapons – the system of martial law that has enabled the imprisonment of over 650,000 Palestinians since 1967, mass annexation of land and the network of checkpoints and apartheid roads.
Omer Shatz, attorney for Chappell and Marti, states: “We are pleased that the state has finally admitted that it is the authority in Area A, as if the Oslo Accords have disappeared, and that the ”˜bantustan’ known as the Palestinian Authority has no significance. This straightforward position will certainly interest the U.S. secretary of state, in light of the start of proximity talks”.
The gathering momentum of non-violent popular resistance has been met with extreme measures by Israeli forces targeting Palestinian, international and Israeli activists. In the cases of Chappell and Ariadna Jove Marti, Eva Novakova, and Ryan Olander, Israeli authorities used the ”˜Oz’ Immigration Unit in an attempt to deport foreigners for their political activities. In the case of Chappell and Marti, the Supreme Court ruled that the use of the ”˜Oz’ and the Israeli Defense Forces to implement arrests of internationals residing in the West Bank is illegal.
These arrests are part of a wider crackdown on the growing movement of popular struggle in Palestine, that has seen the arrest and imprisonment of many members of the popular committees of Al-Ma’asara, Ni’lin, Bil’in, Nablus and Nabi Salih. The latest codified measures of arrest are a sign that Israel is intensifying its resources against the grassroots Palestinian struggle. Targeting international supporters is just part of a multi-tiered campaign to quash a quickly spreading model of non-violent resistance.