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Report: Busload of Harvard students detained in West Bank

 Activestills photographer Anne Paq has just released the following information:

A bus full of US students from Harvard University were stopped by the Israeli army and police during their visit to Al-Walaja, led by Shereen Al Araj, member of the popular committee against the Wall and the local council. The bus with Israeli soldiers who boarded on it was escorted by Israeli military jeeps to a checkpoint where they are all detained now, including Palestinian Shereen Al Araj.

This is a clear attempt to stop the solidarity visits to Al Walaja. The bus was stopped in front of the house of Hajajleh family which will be totally isolated from the rest of the village once the Wall will be completed. The house will have its own fence all around the house and a tunnel to connect them to the village.

Once completed; the village of Al Walaja will be totally surrounded by the Wall.


Border Police spokesperson Shay Hakimi has now responded saying that the bus was travelling illegally on a security road that is part of the separation fence. “In that illegal location passengers disembarked in order to make a provocation.” says Hakimi. “One of the people one the bus was a well known local activist who frequently attends demonstrations in the village, who was detained on the spot for questioning due to incitement, and later released with bail. Officers present asked the rest of the passengers to board the bus and leave, and once they graciously agreed – they were escorted away from the area without being detained.”

Read more on the village of Al-Walaja here.

Harvard students held inside a bus in Al-Walaja (Anne Paq / Activestills)

Harvard students held inside a bus in Al-Walaja (Anne Paq / Activestills)

The Harvard bus boarded by Israeli border police (Anne Paq / Activestills)

The bus boarded by Israeli border police (Anne Paq / Activestills)

The bus escorted out of Al-Walaja (Anne Paq / Activestills)

The bus escorted out of Al-Walaja (Anne Paq / Activestills)

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    1. Anonymous

      Cruising around a war zone like you own the place and you are surprised when you can’t do whatever the hell you want? What a freaking shock. Let’s call the International Criminal Court and start a multi year investigation.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Rotem

      They were visiting the knesset in the morning. Great lesson on israeli democracy.

      Reply to Comment
    3. shongalolla

      With the current unrest happening, Israel has to take precautions. It’s upsetting to see this happen to the students, however.

      Reply to Comment
    4. ya3cov

      Price tag for the One State Conference at Harvard a few weeks ago?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Bill

      A warzone? Who against who?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Matsgz

      Interesting point, Anonymous. Last time I counted 500,000 Israelis/settlers were cruising around the very same war zone doing whatever hell they want, as if they own the place. Mamash freaking shock!

      Reply to Comment
    7. Anonymous

      And if you had it your way all the settlers would be thrown out of their homes and never allowed to return right? Palestine for the Arabs and Arabs alone? So then why are you complaining about the students being stopped? That seems way less offensive.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Bill

      We must stop Israel once and for all.

      Reply to Comment
    9. “Cruising around a war zone like you own the place…”
      Walajeh villagers own Walajeh village, and they received these students as their guests. Through their tour the students will have seen just how difficult it is for Palestinians to have a semblance of normal life, and now the IDF have just provided a practical illustration of that point.
      As someone who lives in the West Bank, very close to Walajeh, I don’t notice a war zone. That implies two sides fighting equally. What we have is an army imposing total control on a civilian population. Walajeh is suffering badly from land confiscation and home demolitions. The villagers’ contribution to this ‘war’ consists of holding a demonstration and a Christian prayer service most Fridays, both directed against the destruction and confiscation of their arable land. I’m glad that these students saw what it’s like for themselves, and I hope that they will share their experiences on their return to the USA.

      Reply to Comment
    10. AIG


      A war can also be between two unequal sides; for example a guerrilla war. And you right that things are relatively quiet. But let’s not forget that the second intifada was not long ago and that without the IDF and the PA cracking down on Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives things would be very much different.

      Before the first intifada things were completely different. For all practical purposes, Israel and the West Bank and Gaza were one economic unit. Hopefully, trust can be rebuilt and we can reach that level of mutual acceptance again.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Joe

      AIG, ‘trust’ can never be rebuilt whilst there are illegal settlements and walls that starve villages. Remember that next time you go to a West Bank settlement on an Israeli-only road.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Steve

      Haggai Matar is an anti-Israel agenda writer, so while I will not accuse him of making things up, anything he writes I certainly will assume is exaggerated against Israel and probably out of context.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Steve

      And the “source” of this fascinating (not) story is some random activist photographer, whose whole purpose for even being there is to try to gather info to bash Israel with.

      Reply to Comment
    14. AIG, the village of Walajeh is now only 22% of its original size because of the land confiscations that were made for the construction of Gilo, Har Gilo, and now Givat Yael. The establishment of Har Gilo began in 1968. Gilo followed in 1970. It can’t be argued that the policy of confiscation and home demolition is anything new, or that it’s part of a crackdown on Hamas or similar groups. Nor can it be said that the people who lost their land and livelihood to settlement-building in the pre-Intifada days were living in mutual acceptance with the settlers, unless ‘the rich man in his castle and the poor man at the gate’ of the old hymn were also in mutual acceptance. My landlady remembers Israelis coming to her shop in the days before the Second Intifada. She would chat to them in Hebrew while they bought their groceries. And all the while, Gilo was strengthening its chokehold on Beit Jala.
      I hope that one day we will have a situation built on genuine acceptance, which would mean accepting people’s basic right to earn a living without fear of stop work orders being nailed to their olive trees and to wake up without finding that a demolition order has been issued for their home. I am confident that such trust will be built, but it will take time.
      Here I just want to say that even though I disagree with you politically on many counts, I can see that you do care about people in Walajeh and I thank you for that.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Piotr Berman

      Of course it is a war zone. IDF has world best expertise in making war on villages.

      Reply to Comment
    16. AIG


      I don’t know, but selling things to Israelis and speaking their language is acceptance. I think we agree that the second intifada had major implications. I think we also agree that to resolve the conflict trust has to be rebuilt. A small first step is reaching the point where Israelis come to your landlady’s store again.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Purrfect

      Yes it’s a war zone. Israel is waging a war on civilians after all.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Steve

      Dishonest PURRFECT wrote: “Israel is waging a war on civilians after all.”

      Reality Check: No, they’re waging a war on jihad terrorist organizations.

      See? Isn’t it nice to read honest stuff?

      Reply to Comment
    19. joe

      Steve, I’m sure you are a nice guy, but not every Palestinian who is involved in the conflict are jihadi terrorists. Some are Christians, which are therefore not jihadi.

      Some are clearly not terrorists as they are committed to non-violence. Many are children, women and men who just happen to be in the way.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Human wrongs

      Meanwhile in Syria…

      Reply to Comment
    21. Piotr Berman

      “No, they’re waging war on jihad terrorist organizations”.

      So they have to demolish jihadist chicken coops, animal sheds, outhouses, as well as homes and tents, and wells, roads, solar panel installations etc. People who liked the movie “Attack of the killer tomatoes” would appreciate the need to cut jihadist olive trees. This anti-jihad effort is supervised by clergy and called “redemption”. Basically, this is Holy War. In Holy Land, one should expect no less.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Kathy

      Way to go, IDF! A busload of future US State Department officers comes to see both sides of the conflict–and you detain them. And then your PR guy tries to blame the students for being detained. (Tacky!) Great PR job! When will you learn: actions speak louder than words.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Michael H

      Last year there were 15 deaths in the West Bank due to the conflict, 20 if one includes the horrible case of the Fogel family. I should hardly think that such low figures for a whole year would be the case in a war zone.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Yoav

      These are graduate students from the Kennedy School of Government; arguably the most prestigious school for government policy makers in the world. This means that within a few years these students can reasonably be expected to be high-ranking government officials in countries all over the world.
      Thank you to the IDF and the border police for showing these people exactly how the occupation runs. This way, when Israelis start talking about security, and pulling photocopies of letters from the holocaust – they will know – first hand – exactly what it all means.

      Reply to Comment
    25. Joe Kelly

      My opinion These students were already Pro Arab State Department Candidates bought and paid for by Arab Government Donations to the school such as Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi – Office of Strategic Affairs a Major benefactor of the Harvard Kennedy School
      Reprint from Israel Matzav 3/2011 Foreign Donations to some universities . Fair Use Not responsible for claims or accuracy of this information.

      American University (The) $500,000
      Boston University $1,500,237
      Columbia University $500,000
      Cornell University $10,900,000
      George Washington University $11,953,519
      Georgetown University $16,232,667
      Harvard University $11,871,563
      Howard University $250,000
      MIT $10,000,000
      Michigan State University $926,740
      Rice University $2,750,000
      Texas A&M University $1,498,671
      Tufts University $1,000,000
      University of Arkansas $18,312,524

      Total $88,195,921

      Reply to Comment
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