Friday, June 17, 2005

American Citizen Treatened at Gun Point: Press Release

Hebron, West Bank , On June 2nd, Vancouver resident Joy Ellison was threatened at gun point while helping two Palestinians at a checkpoint within the city of Hebron. After the Israeli solider manning checkpoint broke Israeli law by touching the two other Americans with Ellison, he pointed at gun at Ellison as if he were going to fire.

Joy Ellison and three other American members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), a nonviolent accompaniment and advocacy organization, were walking through the Daboya Street checkpoint on their way to visit Palestinian families. Two Palestinian 16 year olds were being held at the checkpoint. Ellison and her teammates spoke with the teenagers who said that they had been held for two hours and asked the CPT members to intervene.

Ellison spoke with the solider at the checkpoint, asking why the boys were being held. The solider claimed that their IDs were fake. The CPT members politely reminded the solider, who would not give his name, that soldiers are allowed to detain Palestinians and internationals for no more than 25 minutes before taking legal action or releasing them. The solider responded saying in English “I do not give a [expletive deleted] about international law. I do not give a [expletive deleted] about human rights. I will do whatever I want.” The solider began to harass Ellison and the CPT members verbally.

CPT members called the army asking for the commanding officer to reprimand the offending solider. The offending solider then dragged CPT member American Michelle Stanley away by her purse – a clear violation of orders not to touch Internationals or Palestinians. The solider then pointed his gun straight at Joy Ellison, put the sight to his eye and appeared to prepare to shoot Ellison.

Ellison says “When he pointed the gun at me, I thought that I might die. For less than a second, I wanted to run, but then I felt very proud of what I was doing – standing up for peace and justice.”

Ellison held her ground, and Stanley said, “Don’t point your gun at her.” The solider dropped his gun, but said “I will point this gun wherever I want. There is no international law. I am the law.”
The solider continued to touch the CPT members, forcefully shoving Charles O’Roake 3 or 4 times. The commanding officer arrived and reprimanded the offending solider, but the solider did not change his behavior. He began sexually harassing Michelle Stanley and Jessica Villota.
Stanley repeatedly asked to file a complaint against the solider. An Israeli police officer arrived, but instead to taking the complaint, he arrested Stanley, screaming abuse at her. As soon as Stanley was arrested, the Palestinian teenagers were released, indicating that nothing was wrong with their IDs – a conclusion supported by a member of the US consulate. In total, the teenagers were held for 3 and half hours.

After two hours, Stanley was released, without charges. Ellison, Stanley, O’Roake and Villota filed complaints with the Israeli police and the American consulate in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, police and consulate members indicate that it is unlikely that the offending solider will face any consequences.

“At checkpoints, Palestinians regularly receive far worse treatment than we Americans did today,” said Joy Ellison. “It’s extremely disturbing that some soldiers have no regard for international law. If this solider can point a gun at me, I shudder to think what he might do to Palestinians women or girls”

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