Israeli forces detain pro-Palestinian activists
FILE - In this file photo taken on Sept. 23, 2005, a foreign activist is detained by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration at the construction site of Israel's separation barrier in the Palestinian village of Bilin near the West Bank city of Ramallah. The Israeli army says its forces entered the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010, and arrested two pro-Palestinian activists from Australia and Spain. (AP Photo/Baz Ratner, File)
FILE - In this file photo taken on Sept. 23, 2005, a foreign activist is detained by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration at the construction site of Israel's separation barrier in the Palestinian village of Bilin near the West Bank city of Ramallah. The Israeli army says its forces entered the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010, and arrested two pro-Palestinian activists from Australia and Spain. (AP Photo/Baz Ratner, File) (Baz Ratner - Associated Press)
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By DIAA HADID
The Associated Press
Sunday, February 7, 2010; 1:51 PM
RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Israeli troops broke down the door of an apartment in the Palestinian-ruled West Bank town of Ramallah on Sunday and arrested two pro-Palestinian activists from Spain and Australia, their roommate said.
The Israeli military said the two women overstayed their visas, but also alleged they were involved in violent protests in the West Bank. Their lawyer, Omer Shatz, said he believes the pair were targeted for what he described as peaceful protests against Israeli policies in the West Bank.
The two women are members of the International Solidarity Movement, which has been active in the Palestinian territories for several years.
Shatz said the women were in detention but that a judge issued an order preventing their deportation. He identified them as Ariadna Jove Marti, 25, of Spain, and Bridgette Chappell, 21, of Australia.
The women's roommate, Ryan Olander, said about a dozen Israeli soldiers broke into the apartment before dawn Sunday and demanded to see everyone's passports. Soldiers searched the apartment, confiscated a laptop and two video cameras and told the women to pack up their things, said Olander, of St. Paul, Minnesota.
International Solidarity Movement activists show up at points of friction between Israeli troops and Palestinian demonstrators, often trying to block the soldiers. They take part in weekly protests against Israel's West Bank separation barrier.
At the protests, Palestinian teens routinely throw stones at soldiers, who respond with tear gas, stun grenades and sometimes live ammunition. Israel says the barrier is meant to keep Palestinian attackers out, while Palestinians say it's a land grab.
In recent months, Israel has intensified its crackdown on those involved in the barrier protests, arresting dozens of Palestinians.
Sunday's raid marked only the second time troops have seized foreigners from a Palestinian-ruled area of the West Bank. In January, a Czech activist with the International Solidarity Movement was detained in Ramallah and deported.
An Israeli military spokesman said the two women arrested Sunday were involved in "riots and other acts of violence." The official spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with military regulations.
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