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Israel cracks down on human shield group that used foreigners

Monday, May 12, 2003

RAMALLAH Israel's military has launched a crackdown on an international group that has used foreign volunteers as human shields in the 30-month-old Palestinian insurgency war.

Israeli officials said the military has been ordered to halt the activities of the International Solidarity Movement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The movement has used dozens of foreigners as human shields during Israeli military operations in Palestinian areas and officials, said ISM has also harbored Islamic insurgents who directed suicide attacks in Israel.

Over the weekend, Israeli forces raided a movement stronghold in the West Bank town of Bet Sahour. The soldiers arrested three women and seized computers and files.

Officials later said one of the women will be deported. Two activists were also arrested in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarm on Saturday.

The crackdown was ordered after a suicide attack on a Tel Aviv pub last month. Two British nationals accused of carrying out the strike visited the ISM in Gaza City before they left on their suicide mission. The group said it had nothing to do with the suicide attack.

The Israeli military has also instituted new measures for foreigners who seek to enter Palestinian areas of the Gaza Strip. This includes a requirement that foreigners sign a waiver of any Israeli responsibility for their safety. A similar waiver is required for Israelis who enter Palestinian Authority areas.

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