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EDO decommissioner and long time peace activist Tom Woodhead faces deportation from Israel.
Tom was arrested last week, Friday(1st) at a demonstration in Kafr Qaddum, a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank. Tom has been in Palestine as a volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) since early October.
At the start of the demonstration around 150 demonstrators moved from Kafr Quaddum towards the neighbouring illegal Israeli settlement Qedumim. The Kafr Qaddum protests are held there weekly on Fridays. The purpose of the protests is to monitor and provide an international presence to try and constrict the Israeli military's violence towards Palestinians. The protesters were immediately pushed back into Kafr Qaddum by border police and soldiers who deployed stun grenades, teargas and rubber bullets on the peaceful demonstrators causing them to scarper in different directions. The protesters reassembled at the village entrance and began once again to move away from Kafr Quaddum. At this point the protesters became concerned when they noticed a change in tactics through the sudden retreat of the border police. Two jeeps and lines of police officers on foot descended on the protesters pushing them back into the village. Several border police officers jumped out of an empty building and grabbed as many of the protesters as they could. Along with Tom Woodward (28), two Palestinians were arrested, Belal Fathi Jomaa (22) and Nayif Khalel Jomaa (17). As he was being arrested Tom Woodward was hit with a rifle butt, smacked twice in the face and then blindfolded.
Nayif Khalel Jomaa is being held in Megiddo prison. Megiddo prison is where Arafat Jaradat was held in detention last week and died whilst being questioned during interrogation. His death has become yet another national symbol for the Palestinian struggle. Belal Fathi Jomaa is being held in a military base, in Huwara. As for Tom Woodhead, he is being processed by the Israeli Interior Ministry as part of his deportation tour. No evidence has been brought forward of any offences incurred during this incident. The ISM observes this is due to Israel wishing to attract as little international attention as possible given the recent escalation of violence within the West Bank in the reins of the Israeli government.
Tom Woodhead is one of the six decommissioners who broke into Brighton's local dealer of death, EDO-MBM, during operation Cast Lead (2008-2009) and caused around a quarter of million pounds worth of damage. He and the other defendants were cleared of all charges in 2010 as the Crown court deemed they were preventing war crimes due to the company supplying the Israeli air force with military components used during operation Cast Lead. Previous to this Tom Woodhead had been a first aid trainer with the British Red Cross in Bristol.
Activists are especially concerned that once Tom returns to the UK he will receive the same welcome that other peace activists have received at the hands of the British state. Two Corporate Watch researchers recently returned from the West Bank were interrogated by Special Branch under under schedule VII powers of the Anti-Terrorism Act 2000. This provision of the act strips away a detainees right to silence, and is used to intimidate and 'fish' for information.
UPDATE: 11th March 2013 via ISM Palestine
Tom Woodhead risks jail, pledges not to answer questions if stopped under Terror laws in the UK
11th March, International Solidarity Movement, Occupied Palestine
Tom Woodhead, an ISM activist who is currently being deported by Israeli immigration authorities, has pledged not to answer questions if British authorities attempt to misuse the Terrorism Act 2000 when he arrives at the airport in the UK.The British activist, is currently being deported by Israeli authorities after being arrested on the 1st of March by border police at a demonstration against Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land in Kafr Qaddum, a village in the West Bank.
Updated update: 12th March
Tom was deported from Israel and held by UK authorities for two hours before being released.
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