Christian Peacemaker Teams members monitoring home invasion detained for five hours

Israeli soldiers impose curfew in the West Bank city of Hebron to allow Israeli settlers to visit and pray, 3 August 2006. (MaanImages/Mamoun Wazwaz)

Christian Peacemaker Teams members Dianne Roe and John Lynes were released about 11:30 last night after five hours of questioning at the Kiryat Arba police station. Israeli authorities confiscated the CPT video camera and tapes, promising they would return them unchanged Sunday or Monday.

Roe gave the following account of the events leading up to the arrest:

“At about four in the afternoon of Friday, August 11, as I was walking in the Old City, children alerted me that soldiers had entered a neighborhood home. I called fellow team member Tracy Hughes for backup and then entered the home. I met soldiers descending from the top floor as I approached the family. The father, Fayez Rajabi, welcomed me into their apartment where I videotaped Fayez’ wife and young children, scared and crying. The soldiers had completed a house search and then ordered the family into one room to stay for one hour. When soldiers reentered the room, I turned the camera toward them. They asked me to leave, saying they were conducting a military operation. I asked to see the order. The soldier said he didn’t need one. He asked me not to videotape. I reiterated my right to film, but agreed to turn off the camera, telling him that I would turn it on again and film him if he was doing anything that would hurt family members. He called the police. John Lynes, whom soldiers had initially denied entry, was eventually allowed in, while I was waiting for the police. Tracy Hughes arrived and agreed to stay with the family so John could accompany me to the nearby Ibrahimi police station.

“At the station I showed the video footage to the head officer to his apparent satisfaction until he received a phone call. After the phone call he said, ‘Give me the camera,’ and he tried to take it from me with force. When I did not surrender the camera, the police transferred us to Kiryat Arba police station. The investigator and the soldier making the complaint viewed the video footage.

“The investigator read me the soldier’s complaint, which stated that I had refused to leave when they asked me to. The investigator told me that I must leave if a soldier asks me to. I asked him if that was a new regulation. His response, although vague, seemed to indicate that each soldier is now the law. He told me I must surrender the tape or he would have to take it by force. I told him I could call my teammates to make a duplicate tape in his presence, and then I would give him the original. He said the head officer had refused that request. My teammate John then offered to hold the camera so that when the police took it forcibly he would take the brunt in place of me.

“The investigator was very reluctant to take the camera forcibly, as were the two assistants he asked to help, but in the end three of them gently removed the camera from John’s neck, and apologized as they accompanied us to the gate. We thanked the investigator for his concern and fairness.”

It is not certain where the investigation stands. The investigator indicated to Roe that the head officer may want to question her further before returning the tapes and camera.

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