ISM demands Israeli retraction and apology over Mike’s Place bombing allegations

(3 June 2003) — The International Solidarity Movement demands a retraction of statements made by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a full apology.

The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website makes the following accusations against the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that “ISM members take an active part in illegal and violent actions against IDF soldiers. At times, their activity in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip is under the auspices of Palestinian terrorist organizations”.

This is incorrect. The International Solidarity Movement does not and has never worked under the auspices of, or in cooperation with, any armed Palestinian resistance group. The ISM does not undertake any activity in the Occupied Territories this is violent or illegal. On the contrary ISM activists have been harmed by and threatened with harm by Israeli army personnel.

In connection with the two British suicide bombers the Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that “The two terrorists were careful to establish their presence in Judea and Samaria by forging links with foreign left wing activists and members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM)”.

This is incorrect. No ISM activist had contact with the two men in the West Bank. Their sole contact was a brief social encounter in Rafah in the Gaza Strip and no “links” were “forged” in short time. See attached press statement for full details.

Immediately after the suicide attack on Mike’s Place Israeli intelligence stated that the men had entered the Gaza Strip posing as international peace activists with the ISM. In their report of June 3 Israeli investigations now prove that “On April 24, 2003, the terrorists entered the Gaza Strip via the Erez checkpoint, along with the Italian woman journalist and additional Italian journalists, which greatly assisted them in avoiding suspicion at Erez”. The ISM has been shown to be innocent of this false accusation by the Israeli government.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that “It has become clear from the investigation of the Italian journalist that the terrorists exploited foreign left wing activists in the Palestinian Authority (PA) areas for the purpose of covering their movements throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Even though the latter were unwitting, they in effect were accomplices to terrorist activity”.

This is incorrect. The Italian journalist was interrogated by the Israeli authorities and has subsequently been found to be unaware of their intentions and so is not guilty of being an accomplice. Similarly the ISM activists in Rafah were entirely unware of the men’s intentions to commit an attack in Israel.

Moreover ISM has not been approached for questioning by the Israeli authorities in connection with the contact they had with the suicide attackers. Further to this the only contact ISM had with these men was a brief social meeting in Rafah, not in the West Bank and it has been proved that the men used a journalist as a cover for their movements. It is important to state that since it’s founding ISM activists have been denied entry to the country and many have been deported. Moving around the Occupied Territories is not made easier as a peace activist.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that “None of the persons involved - neither Palestinian nor foreign - bothered to contact any official body, despite their familiarity with the terrorists, even after they understood that they were involved in the attack, until they came under ISA investigation.”

This is incorrect. ISM held an open press conference a few days after the attack on Mike’s Place and explained the circumstances under which the activists in Rafah briefly met the British men. The ISM has never been approached by the Israeli authorities in connection with an investigation.