International Solidarity Movement: Wikis


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The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led organization focused on assisting the Palestinian side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict using nonviolent protests. It was founded in 2001 by Ghassan Andoni, a Palestinian activist; Neta Golan, an Israeli activist; Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian-American; and George N. Rishmawi, a Palestinian activist. Adam Shapiro, an American, joined the movement shortly after its founding and is also often considered one of the founders.

The organization calls on civilians from around the world to participate in acts of nonviolent protests against the Israeli military in the West Bank and previously the Gaza Strip.




According to the ISM's website, "International volunteers who join the ISM are responsible for paying their own way and covering all their expenses in Palestine. The ISM does not receive any funding from any state, government or association. We rely on donations from average people all over the world that support peace and the Palestinian struggle for freedom."[1] The ISM regularly sends speakers on fund-raising trips and encourages funding drives.


The organization calls on civilians from around the world to participate in acts of non-violent protests against the Israeli military in the West Bank and previously the Gaza Strip. It has recently been criticised for working alongside other groups to pressure Palestinian artists to boycott the One Voice Peace Summit and for helping to undermine the Summit by creating a competing event. ISM and affiliated groups critical of the Summit say that One Voice fails to fully support Palestinian rights guaranteed under international law.[citation needed]

ISM's position on violence

The ISM's website describes the organization as a "Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles." It emphasizes international volunteers are not there to "teach nonviolent resistance" but to support resistance through nonviolent direct action, emergency mobilization and documentation. [2]

An article in the UK's Telegraph newspaper asserts that ISM is "the 'peace' group that embraces violence" because in its mission statement supports "armed struggle" as the "right" of Palestinians.[3] ISM explains on its website:

"The ISM does not support or condone any acts of terrorism – which is not legitimate armed struggle. The ISM does not associate, support, or have anything to do with armed or violent resistance to the occupation. The ISM does not assist or engage in any kind of armed resistance, no matter what form it may take.
The statement in question is taken from the ISM Mission Statement:
"As enshrined in international law and UN resolutions , we recognize the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and occupation via legitimate armed struggle. However, we believe that nonviolence can be a powerful weapon in fighting oppression and we are committed to the principles of nonviolent resistance.”
This right to resist occupation applies not only to the Palestinian people, but to all peoples who are faced with a military occupation. The ISM regards all people as equals with equal rights under international law. We believe that nonviolent action is a powerful weapon in fighting oppression and are committed to the principles of nonviolent resistance.[4]

During a CNN interview Paula Zahn with Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf asked about an article they had co-authored which stated: "Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics, both violent and nonviolent. But most importantly, it must develop a strategy involving both aspects. Nonviolent resistance is no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation." She noted that "some people could lead to the conclusion that you were promoting suicide bombing." Shapiro and Arraf replied:

The article that we wrote was actually in response to another article written by a Palestinian, who said the Palestinians could not be nonviolent. And so we were addressing within the context of the debate over whether the Palestinians could use violence or could not use nonviolence or could use nonviolence. So it was, first of all, within that context...
There already is violence. We’re not advocating it. It’s already there. It’s on the ground. We’re working with people and with Palestinians who want to promote nonviolence, and that was the context of the whole article.[5]

Activism tactics

Past ISM campaigns have used the following tactics:

  • Acting to deter military operations. Some ISM volunteers object to the use of the term human shield to describe their work because, they argue, in a Palestinian context the expression more usually refers to forced use of captive Palestinians by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) when searching Palestinian neighbourhoods.
  • Accompanying Palestinians to minimize alleged harassment by Israeli settlers or soldiers, for example ensuring that queues at Israeli checkpoints are processed efficiently and providing witnesses and intermediaries during annual olive harvests, which are often disrupted by settlers and police [6][7][8][9].
  • Removing roadblocks. These are large unmanned mounds of earth and concrete on roads throughout the West Bank, and sometimes placed at the entrances of Palestinian villages by the IDF, thereby isolating those villages' inhabitants by preventing traffic in or out.
  • Attempting to block military vehicles such as tanks and bulldozers.
  • Violating Israeli curfew orders enforced on Palestinian areas in order to monitor Israeli military actions, deliver food and medicine to Palestinian homes, or escort medical personnel to help facilitate their work.
  • Interfering with the construction of the West Bank barrier and placing political graffiti on the barrier.
  • Entering areas designated as "closed military zones" by the Israeli military. This is not really a 'strategy' as such, but is a prerequisite for ISM being able to conduct many of the above activities as areas in which the ISM is active are often summarily designated as "closed military zones" by the IDF.
  • Attempting to lift the Israeli blockade of Hamas-led Gaza with the Free Gaza initiative to send boats to Gaza in August 2008.

Noteworthy ISM events

Nobel Peace Prize nominations

ISM member casualties in Palestine and Israel

ISM member casualties timeline

  • On 2 April 2002, Australian ISM volunteer Kate Edwards sustained severe internal injuries from rounds fired by Israeli forces during a protest in Beit Jala.[citation needed] The incident was captured on film and appears in the documentary by Palestinian film-maker Leila Sansour, Jeremy Hardy vs the Israeli Army.[16]
  • On November 22, 2002 Caoimhe Butterly, an Irish ISM volunteer was shot and injured by IDF in Jenin[17] minutes before UNRWA relief works project manager, Briton Iain Hook was killed nearby.[18]
  • On 16 March 2003, US ISM volunteer Rachel Corrie was killed while trying to block an IDF armoured bulldozer. See below.
  • On 5 April 2003, US ISM volunteer Brian Avery was shot in the face and permanently disfigured by machine gun fire from an IDF armoured personnel carrier while he was escorting Palestinian medical personnel in the street.
  • On 11 April 2003, British ISM volunteer Thomas Hurndall was left clinically brain dead after he was shot in the head by an IDF soldier. Initially the soldier claimed the shooting occurred during an armed firefight between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants but the prosecuted soldier later admitted firing at him "as a deterrent".[19] Hurndall died on 13 January 2004. In early 2009, the family is reported to have accepted a payout of £1.5m payout and said that "the settlement was the nearest they could get to an admission of guilt from Israel".[20]
  • On September 6, 2007, ISM activist Akram Ibrahim Abu Sba’ was killed by members of Islamic Jihad in the north Palestinian city of Jenin.[21]
  • On March 13, 2009, An American demonstrator Tristan Anderson was critically wounded near Nil'in, during a clash between protesters and IDF troops over the West Bank security barrier.[22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29]

ISM causalties by the Israeli Army

Brian Avery

On April 5, 2003 Israeli Defense Force members of a convoy shot Brian Avery (born 1979) in the face, seriously disfiguring him, while he was volunteering for the ISM in the West Bank town of Jenin. He was wearing a red reflector vests with the word "doctor" in English and Arabic. The IDF refused to order an investigation, saying there was no proof its soldiers had shot at anyone that day.[30][31][32] Avery sued and in November 2008 accepted a $150,000 settlement from the state of Israel in exchange for dropping the lawsuit.[31]

Rachel Corrie

Controversy surrounds the circumstances of ISM volunteer Rachel Corrie's March 16, 2003 death. She was killed as she attempted to block an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) bulldozer conducting military operations in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. An internal IDF investigation concluded that Corrie's death was an accident but ISM eyewitnesses vehemently dispute this account, contending that the bulldozer driver deliberately struck Corrie as she was protesting in plain view. The IDF claims that tapes of the event show Corrie below the driver's eye level, and also contend that the noise level was too loud to Ms. Corrie to be heard. The activities of the bulldozer she was blocking are also subject to disagreement - ISM claim it was preparing to demolish the home of a Palestinian pharmacist. Other accounts backed by the film footage claim that the bulldozer was not near a house but was removing shrubbery covering an arms smuggling tunnel - according to an article in Mother Jones magazine,[33] hotly disputed by the ISM, Israeli authorities claimed that the crew's assignment was to sweep the area for booby traps planted by militants. The IDF itself has never explicitly claimed that the house contained a tunnel and two tunnels were found when the home was eventually demolished 9 months later.

George Rishmawi of the ISM told the San Francisco Chronicle that: "When Palestinians get shot by Israeli soldiers, no one is interested anymore. But if some of these foreign volunteers get shot or even killed, then the international media will sit up and take notice."[34]

Tom Hurndall

On April 11, 2003 an Israel Defenses Force soldier shot ISM volunteer Tom Hurndall in the head. Hurndall, who had been aiding Palestinians in Gaza, died of his wound in January 2004. Hurndall was unarmed, dressed in the bright orange jacket of the International Solidarity Movement, and steering two Palestinian children away from an Israeli tank-mounted machine gun shooting in their direction.[35][36][37][38][39]

IDF Sergeant Taysir Hayb claimed he had shot at a man in military fatigues who was firing at the soldiers with a pistol, in the no-go security zone. This was at odds with the ISM's account, confirmed by photographic evidence.[40]

Subsequently Hayb admitted fabricating his account of events. On 10 May 2004, Taysir Hayb's trial commenced on one charge of manslaughter in the death of Tom Hurndall, two counts of obstruction of justice, one count each of submitting false testimony, obtaining false testimony, and unbecoming behaviour. Hurndall's family pressed for a murder charge through the Israeli courts.[39][41][42] In August 2005, Sgt. Hayb was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to a total of eight years imprisonment, seven years for the manslaughter of Hurndall and one year for obstruction of justice.[43]

Tristan Anderson

On March 13, 2009, American ISM volunteer Tristan Anderson was critically injured by a tear gas canister fired by the Israeli Army's upon observers after ISM demonstration. Fellow ISM volunteer and Tristan's girlfriend Gabrielle Silverman (Israeli-American), who witnessed to his injury:

"We were at a demonstration against the wall, against the Israeli apartheid wall in the West Bank village of N’alin, which is about twenty-six kilometers west of Ramallah. I was very close to him when he was shot. I was only a few feet away. The demonstration had been going for several hours. It was wrapping up; it was almost over. Most people had already gone home. We were standing on some grass nearby a village mosque, and Tristan was taking pictures [when] he was shot in the head with the extended range tear gas canister." [44]

ISM casualties by Palestinian militants

Akram Ibrahim Abu Sba’

On September 6, 2007, ISM Jenin regional committee member and "co-founder of one of ISM’s first permanent presences" Akram Ibrahim Abu Sba’ was killed on duty by Islamic Jihad militants, while trying to "smooth tensions between Palestinian security forces and Islamic Jihad members," in the Palestinian city of Jenin. Akram was buried in the Jenin refugee camp graveyard.[45]

Criticism and controversies

Member's work with Hamas and Islamic Jihad

The Israeli government asserted ISM activist Susan Barclay had "ties with Palestinian terrorist groups." She stated she worked with representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in organizing a nonviolent protest.[46]

Shadi Sukiya case

On March 27, 2003, Palestinian Shadi Sukiya was arrested in by the Israel Defense Forces in ISM Jenin. The Israeli government claimed, Sukiya was a senior Islamic Jihad and he was aided by two ISM activists.[47][48]

Both parties stated that Sukiya arrived at the ISM's office as he was being pursued through the streets of Jenin by IDF soldiers during an Israeli-imposed curfew. According to the ISM's account, he had being going door to door looking for a place to go, arrived at the building (which is also used by the Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontieres) cold and wet, and was offered a chance to dry and warm up by an ISM volunteer.

The IDF originally suggested that two Kalashnikov assault rifles and a handgun were found on the premises, but subsequently backtracked on the allegation (it appears the weapons were found during the operation, but not in the ISM's building).

In May 2003, Adam Shapiro from ISM stated that Sukiya was not named a "senior Islamic Jihad terrorist" by any official Israeli military or government source, and was being held in administrative detention in Israel without any charge.

Criticism from Israeli members of parliament

Right-wing Israeli members of the Knesset called ISM members "warmongers" who should be deported because they "disrupt public order, including entering closed and dangerous areas to act as human shields to prevent IDF operations against terrorism." Three ISM members who attended the session said ISM encourages Palestinians to use nonviolent methods and made it clear their only encounter with the two British men who did the 2003 Mike's Place suicide bombing was when the men attended a memorial service for Rachel Corrie. They said they were not involved with an organization.[49][50]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ About ISM on ISM website.
  3. ^ The 'peace' group that embraces violence, The Telegraph, January 15, 2004.
  4. ^ Frequently Asked Questions: Does the ISM support suicide bombers and terrorists?, "FAQ" page on ISM website.
  5. ^ Interview with Adam Shapiro, Huwaida Arraf, Activists (May 10, 2002)
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Activists trickle to Lebanon to protest Israel war (via Yahoo! News)
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ [3]
  13. ^ Full Letter
  14. ^ "Jeff Halper nominated for 2006 Nobel Peace Prize". Tikkun magazine. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  15. ^ American Friends Service Committee (15 February 2006). "AFSC's nomination for 2006 Nobel Peace Prize: Ghassan Andoni and Jeff Halpern". Press release. Retrieved 2008-04-20. "The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker social justice organization, has nominated two candidates for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize: Jeff Halper, an Israeli Jew and Ghassan Andoni, a Palestinian Christian from the Occupied Palestinian Territories." 
  16. ^ Jeremy Hardy vs the Israeli Army (documentary)
  17. ^ "She Took a Bullet for Peace" TIMEeurope Magazine | Heroes 2003 - Activists
  18. ^ Sniper target laser 'fell on man' BBC 12th December 2005.
  19. ^ What price a life? The Israeli army shot my son Guardian 10 January 2004.
  20. ^ Family of cameraman killed by Israel army accepts £1.5m payout The Times, 2nd Feb 2009.
  21. ^ ISM-Member Akram killed during clashes in Jenin
  22. ^ US demonstrator critically injured at West Bank protest, Jerusalem Post, March 13, 2009
  23. ^ American citizen critically injured after being shot in the head by Israeli forces in Ni’lin
  24. ^ Oakland man critically wounded in clash with Israeli military
  25. ^ SF Gate: Ex-Cal tree-sitter hurt in West Bank protest
  26. ^ San Jose Mercury News: Rally planned for Berkeley tree-sitter injured in West Bank protest
  27. ^ The Daily Californian: Former UC Berkeley Tree-Sitter Injured in West Bank
  28. ^ AP: American wounded by Israeli troops has surgery
  29. ^ Democracy Now! | US Consul General Says Awaiting Israeli Report on IDF Shooting of American Citizen
  30. ^ "Wounded activist testifies against IDF". Jerusalem Post, Sept 20, 2007.
  31. ^ a b Dan Izenberg, State to compensate wounded ISM activist, Jerusalem Post, November 19, 2008.
  32. ^
  33. ^ The Death of Rachel Corrie
  34. ^ S.F. Jewish activist held as security threat in Israel (via San Francisco Chronicle)
  35. ^ ISM: Israeli soldier shoots British ISM activist Tom Hurndall in Gaza (11 April 2003)
  36. ^ ISM Rafah: Statement on the shooting of Thomas Hurndall (12 April 2003)
  37. ^ "As IDF rifle fire hit the mound, the children fled. But three, aged between four and seven, were paralysed by fear". The Guardian Obituary, January 22, 2004.
  38. ^ Soldier jailed for activist death, BBC News, August 11, 2005.
  39. ^ a b Simon Atkinson, British peace activist was ‘intentionally killed’, The Guardian, April 10, 2006.
  40. ^ "Parents fight to learn why Israeli sniper shot their son". The Guardian, 30 January 2005.,6903,1401737,00.html. Retrieved 27 May 2007. 
  41. ^ ISM statement on the killing of Tom Hurndall
  42. ^ ISM Rafah Statement on the shooting of Tom Hurndall
  43. ^ BBC: Soldier jailed for activist death (11 August 2005)
  44. ^ Democracy Now! | US Consul General Says Awaiting Israeli Report on IDF Shooting of American Citizen, Democracy Now, March 16, 2009.
  45. ^ ISM-Member Akram killed during clashes in Jenin, ISM website, September 7, 2007.
  46. ^ Sam Skolnik, Activist's death focuses spotlight on Mideast struggle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer March 20, 2003
  47. ^ [4] Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  48. ^ [5]
  49. ^ MKs in a huff over ISM peace activists, Haaretz, May 15, 2003.
  50. ^ Bomb Britons 'visited Gaza',BBC, May 5, 2003.

External links


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