'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Saturday, March 19, 2005

From Israel 

Brian Avery wants to know who shot him in the face, via Hareez:

Avery came here two years ago, in January 2003, a 24-year-old who dreamed of fixing the world, or at least helping to solve the conflict in the Middle East. Five months and three operations later, he returned home emotionally battered and with his face seriously injured, to a no less cruel future. He has five or six rounds of plastic surgery ahead of him, until his face - maybe, some time - will once again resemble what it used to be.

The issue of Avery, an activist in the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), is now being deliberated in the High Court of Justice. Two and a half weeks ago, the first session took place. A panel of three justices instructed the judge advocate general (JAG) to interview, within 90 days, the witnesses to the incident in which Avery was injured in Jenin, and to inform the court whether it will adhere to its previous decision, and if so - why.

Avery wants to know who shot and wounded him critically on Saturday night, April 5, 2003. The original Israel Defense Forces investigation, carried out immediately after the incident by Colonel Dan Hefetz, commander of the Menashe Brigade, concluded with the following surprising IDF statement, which was delivered to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv: "Mr. Ivory's injury is an unfortunate incident. ISM activists knowingly endanger themselves by operating during curfew in combat situations, seeking clashes and frictions with IDF soldiers. No findings indicate that Mr. Avery was injured by IDF fire in any of the above-mentioned events."

Also Vanunu is facing a new jail term for the crime of speaking to the press (after being imprisoned for eighteen years for the crime of speaking to the press) via the Guardian:

The Israeli nuclear whistleblower, Mordechai Vanunu, is facing another term in prison after he was charged yesterday with breaching a gag order imposed on his release from an 18-year sentence last April.

Israeli prosecutors laid 22 charges against Mr Vanunu at a Jerusalem magistrates court for allegedly exposing nuclear secrets in interviews with the foreign press and for attempting to visit Bethlehem at Christmas. If convicted, he faces up to two years in jail.

After he was freed last year at the end of his sentence for revealing the inner workings of Israel's nuclear weapons programme to the Sunday Times, Mr Vanunu was served with a court order forbidding him to contact or pass information to foreigners or to leave Israel.

Mr Vanunu told the Guardian yesterday that he did not know if the charges were a serious attempt to put him back in prison or simply to silence him amid an international campaign to have the restrictions lifted when they come up for renewal in July.

"They have to decide what they want to do with me. The police spent a lot of time watching me to see what I was doing and now they charged me for giving interviews to the foreign media. It is a breach of the conditions of my release. I don't think it is a big offence but maybe they do."

Shortly after he took up residence at an East Jerusalem cathedral on his release, Mr Vanunu began giving interviews to the Guardian, the BBC and dozens of other media organisations in defiance of the gag order

The above Guardian piece contains a nice quote from Daniel Ellsberg summing up the situation:

"That, after 18 years of imprisonment and solitary confinement and mistreatment, a person can still come out sane, articulate, compassionate - this is the secret that no regime wants its citizens to know."

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