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British activist to Ma'an on being assaulted, detained at Khan al-Ahmar

July 10, 2018 6:12 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 6, 2018 2:43 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Steven Dhiman, a British solidarity activist, was detained alongside several other international solidarity activists, during a protest against the demolition of Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem, last Thursday.

Dhiman spoke to Ma'an regarding the treatment of activists detained by Israeli forces at Khan al-Ahmar.

Dhiman said that on Wednesday 4th of July he began training with International Solidarity Movement (ISM), where Palestinians and Israelis work together in non-violent and peaceful resistance against the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Dhiman and the other activists went to Khan al-Ahmar, when the Israeli court had ruled that the village should be demolished along with the children's school, which was built and funded by the EU, along with it.

He said that Israeli forces escorted an excavator to create a path for the bulldozers to come through to the village.

"There were terrible scenes online of violence from the Israeli forces against defenseless Palestinian women and children that were protesting."

On Thursday at around 7:30 a.m. Dhiman and another 10 activists, one of whom is an Israeli, made a human chain with actual chains, their arms were linked and their hands were chained together as they saw the excavator and soldiers approaching; a senior Israeli soldier had approached the activists and smiled while slow clapping at them, before he walked away to decide what to do about the protesters.

Dhiman mentioned that the "human chain" sat down in front of the excavator to stop it from moving forward, which was a temporary success. "It was a very scary moment."

He added that "three of the soldiers jumped on me, one of them stamping on my arm, almost breaking it. Another soldier came towards me with a huge pair of bolt cutters and jammed it into the gap where he cut the chain, he almost cut my thumb off with it."

Meanwhile, an American activist, Liam Wheeler, chained himself to the excavator, to which the Israeli soldiers responded by beating him as he was still chained, causing him a sprain on the inside of his elbow.

Israeli soldiers detained a Canadian activist, Michaela Allana, 21, dragging her to the trucks for transfer alongside the others.

"One senior Israeli soldier started shouting at me. I told him we are peaceful people and this is a non-violent protest against the village being demolished. The soldier looked me dead in the eyes and said 'YOU'RE PEACE, I'M WAR.'"

Dhiman and the other activists were humiliated by the Israeli soldiers as they were taking photos and laughing at them, while they dragged them with cable ties around their wrists causing them to bleed. Dhiman described it as "an animal trophy hunting shot."

Israeli soldiers transferred the detained activists to a police station in a nearby illegal Israeli settlement.

After a few hours of Israeli soldiers laughing about the photos and videos taken of the incident, they put the male activists in a cell, separating Allana from them.

The activists were nearly deprived of water throughout the whole day; from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. inside the Israeli police station. They would receive only one tiny plastic cup of water every two hours.

Israeli interrogators were trying to expedite a deportation order against the activists.

A Jewish Israeli Human Rights lawyer was able to delay the activists transfer to the Russian compound in Jerusalem before they were officially released.

"As international activists, we MUST be prepared to stand alongside the Palestinians when Israel are committing these crimes and yes, get arrested when necessary," Dhiman stressed, "because you see us Internationals, by law, we will be in front of an Israeli court judge within 24 hours and the worst that is going to happen is that they deport us. However when a Palestinian gets arrested for the same thing, protesting against the destruction of his house, his water supply, his land or lack of free movement or whatever it might be, that is it, he is gone, could be a year, could be 5 (in prison)."

"We must pressure our government to stop selling arms to Israel and to recognize Palestine as a full UN member state," Dhiman added.

Dhiman appealed to international activists to join the cause "to come over and get involved."

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