Israel set to deport Canadian volunteer arrested at fence protest

IDF claims 23-year-old was taking pictures in closed military zone.

Bilin fight 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Bilin fight 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Victor McDiarmid, a 23-year-old Canadian, is being deported from Israel after being arrested in Ni'ilin at a protest against the construction of the West Bank security barrier last week. McDiarmid, who had been living for a month in the West Bank town as a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was arrested for allegedly taking pictures in a closed military zone of the IDF's attempts to break up the protest. McDiarmid also says that the soldiers who arrested him beat him and spit on him for 20 minutes. Before McDiarmid's remand was extended, ISM lawyers arranged for him to be released on bail with the condition that he stay away from Ni'ilin for two weeks. But an ISM representative who arrived to pick him up and sign the bail papers learned that McDiarmid had been moved to Interior Ministry custody at Ben-Gurion Airport, slated for immediate deportation back to Canada. A police officer said that the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) had requested his deportation. An Interior Ministry representative said McDiarmid was being deported because his visa had been cancelled "for not following the army's orders." The deportation order was confirmed at a hearing held Sunday. McDiarmid was told that if he decided to appeal the deportation order, he would have to wait "at least three weeks" in detention before the appeal would be heard, Adam Taylor, ISM's media coordinator, told The Jerusalem Post. Taylor also said McDiarmid was told that his deportation was inevitable, even if he chose to appeal. Gabi Lansky, McDiarmid's lawyer, said she planned to appeal the decision and that she believed McDiarmid was being singled out. Though last week's protest was large, she claimed, only one other individual was arrested - Jamal Amirra - the father of a girl who filmed an IDF soldier shooting a bound Palestinian in Ni'ilin on July 7. McDiarmid helped discover the video. When asked how the soldiers in Ni'ilin last week would have been be able to make the connection between McDiarmid, Amirra and the video incident, Lasky responded that the same soldiers had been on duty on July 7. In response, the IDF said in a statement that two protesters (McDiarmid and Amirra) had been arrested at the protest for "violating a closed military zone order and violently attacking two border policemen." No foreign citizen can be allowed to intentionally disturb operations by security forces, "especially while acting illegally and violently," the statement continued. The military contended that the Palestinians who routinely protest against the fence construction are joined by activists who cause "an already tense situation to flare up." In order to deal with the violent protests in Ni'ilin, the IDF added, the army was compelled to reassign resources from regular security missions. Regarding the alleged abuse McDiarmid suffered at the hands of the soldiers, Lasky said she intends to launch an official complaint with the IDF. If the deportation order is upheld, McDiarmid would be the first ISM volunteer deported in years for issues not initially related to visa validity, and he would not be allowed to reenter the country for 10 years.