Responding to the detentions of three leading human rights defenders in the South Hebron Hills today, Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund, released the following statement:
“Today, three courageous human rights defenders were detained by the Israeli military outside Hebron: Avner Gvaryahu, Executive Director of Breaking the Silence; Achiya Schatz, the organization’s spokesperson; and pioneering human rights attorney Michael Sfard. They were visiting the area of the South Hebron Hills in solidarity with the peaceful anti-occupation activists from Ta’ayush, four of whom were brutally attacked last weekend by settler extremists from the illegal Mitzpeh Yair outpost.
“Last weekend, the Ta’ayush activists were beaten under the watchful eye of the IDF soldiers in the area, who did not arrest any of the perpetrators. But today, they have put three leading human rights defenders in handcuffs.
“This government has threatened, lied about, and blamed those of us who support democracy and equality for all people and an end to the occupation. It is now clear that this government intends to abandon its basic responsibility to protect its citizens from violent crime, and that dissenters from its cruel policies will face legal persecution.
“This goes beyond political disagreements. This is a government endangering the physical safety of citizens who stand up for human rights.
“We will not be intimidated or silenced.”