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ISM: Israeli plan to deport BDS activists aims to make Palestinians 'even more vulnerable'

Aug. 9, 2016 1:11 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 9, 2016 3:18 P.M.)
Israeli, foreign and Palestinian activists take part in a protest against the demolition of the village of Susiya in the southern occupied West Bank in July 2015. (AFP/Hazem Bader, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) denounced on Monday a recent move by the Israeli government seeking to identify and deport foreigners involved in pro-Palestinian activism in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

The Israeli government has grown increasingly concerned about the growth of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, as the movement has made gains around the world, with a growing number of companies, universities, and religious institutions divesting from organizations complicit in Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights.

Israeli Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri and Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan announced on Sunday that they were forming a joint task force to “expel and ban the entry of BDS activists” into Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

The announcement has led to outcry from groups like ISM, which believe they will are the targets of the newly-formed task force.

“Isolation of Palestinians by denying access and/or deporting human rights activists aims to make Palestinian communities already vulnerable and suffering from abuse...even more vulnerable,” ISM said in a statement.

“We condemn Israeli suppression of Palestinian nonviolent resistance. This recent attempt to further isolate Palestinians indicates the occupation authorities’ unwillingness to do the only thing that will actually bring an end to Israel’s isolation -- to adhere to international law, end the occupation and grant Palestinians their rights.”

ISM argued that its foreign activists play a crucial role in trying to prevent Israeli army violence against Palestinians.

“As a civilian population living under military occupation Palestinians in the occupied territories are promised protection under International law,” the group said in its statement. “(Foreign) civilians have been attempting to fill in the gap created by the failure of governments and official international bodies to provide protection and fulfill their obligations.

“We find that our presence sometimes results in reducing the level of lethal force used by the Israeli military against unarmed Palestinians.”

The BDS movement was founded in July 2005 by a swath of Palestinian civil society as a peaceful movement to restore Palestinian rights in accordance with international law through strategies of boycotting Israeli products and cultural institutions, divesting from companies complicit in violations against Palestinians, and implementing state sanctions against the Israeli government.

The intensity of the Israeli backlash against BDS has been seen by BDS activists as proof of the important advances the movement had made in raising awareness of Israeli violations of human rights.

"After failing to counter or even diminish the unmistakable impact of BDS in isolating its brutal regime of oppression, Israel is dropping the mask,” Abd al-Rahman Abu Nahel, a spokesperson for the BDS National Committee (BNC), said in a statement on Monday.

“It is revealing its true face to the world as a ruthless, warmongering pariah state, and it is resorting to the same repressive tools deployed by apartheid South Africa in its last chapter, before its eventual collapse."
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