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Palestinian Freedom Riders Arrested Aboard Settlers’ Bus

PolicyMic writer and activist Fadi Quran is one of six Palestinian West Bank Freedom Riders who has been detained by Israeli police for boarding a Jerusalem-bound bus used by Jewish settlers. See photos here.

Fadi is a close friend and recent Stanford grad (’10). Back in September 2009, we both attended a Stanford-led seminar in Ahmedebad, India focusing on Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and nonviolent social change. On that trip, Fadi told me he would return to Palestine after graduation and bring the nonviolent resistance strategies we learned about back with him to the West Bank. It was clear to me then, and even clearer to me today, that he represents a next generation youth leader who will be at the forefront of the Palestinian struggle for freedom for years to come.

IDF soldiers and police forcibly removed Quran and the other activists from a bus to East Jerusalem. The activists drew inspiration from the 1960s U.S. civil rights Freedom Riders who campaigned against segregated buses.

Palestinians from the West Bank are not allowed to cross into Jerusalem without Israeli permission.

The Palestinian protesters gathered at a West Bank bus stop, waited for an Israeli bus to pick them up, and boarded a bus heading toward occupied East Jerusalem at approximately 3PM. Although they were allowed to travel to an Israeli checkpoint at the edge of Jerusalem, security forces began carrying the activists off the bus at 5:15PM following a standoff on the Jerusalem side of the Hizmeh checkpoint, and eventually arrested them all.

The campaign was part of an effort to call attention to Israel’s occupation and policies restricting Palestinians’ freedom of movement. Fadi says that by only serving Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Israeli bus companies discriminate against Palestinians. “These buses and this whole system is discriminatory to Palestinians.”

According to a press release issued Sunday by organizers, “As part of their struggle for freedom, justice and dignity, Palestinians demand the ability to be able to travel freely on their own roads, on their own land, including the right to travel to Jerusalem.”

Organizer Huqaida Arraf, one of the six to board the bus, said that organizers had handpicked potential buses ahead of time, focusing on routes where settlers tended to be less heavily armed.

Photo Credit: rahelsharon

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