Michaela Lavis a Canadian citizen, was arrested by Israeli forces early on Thursday morning (July 5), along with Palestinian, British and American peace and social justice advocates.
Micheala is the daughter of Reverend Karen Rodman, who was a minister here in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario at St. Andrew’s United Church. Michaela was arrested just east of Jerusalem. She is currently a Ryerson University student and is about to enter her fourth year in the Child and Youth Care program. Lavis has been doing humanitarian work in the West Bank since late May and has been volunteering with the Defence for Children International-Palestine and working with an occupational therapist who provides support to children with special needs.
In an exclusive interview from Palestine, Michaela Lavis spoke via SKYPE with Superior Media a short time after being released from Israeli detention. It was approximately 2:30 am (Friday) in Palestine, and Lavis was relieved to be reunited with her mother, Rev. Rodman, who is also in Palestine. Lavis was arrested at approximately 9:00 am on Thursday.
In the audio below, Michaela shares her reflections from Palestine, and the events on Thursday – culminating in her arrest and detention inside of an Israeli jail.
Lavis said that all three foreign nationals were released in the wee hours of Friday morning. The arrests came a day after Israeli police scuffled with activists protesting at the same site, apprehending 11 people.
According to Canadians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East, Michaela Lavis was arrested by Israeli forces while they were involved in a ‘stand-in’ at the village of Khan al-Ahmar. Lavis was part of a larger protest over the Israeli demolition of homes in Khan Al-Ahmar – a Bedouin village in the West Bank.
The Canadian government has said it is “deeply concerned” about the planned demolition of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar and is “actively engaging Israeli officials on this issue and urge them to reconsider” their decision. Earlier this week, the United Nations’ main human rights body also called on Israel to abandon the demolition plans.
Rev. Rodman travelled to Palestine a few years ago through the EAP (Ecumenical Accompaniment programme). The EAP in Palestine and Israel is an international, ecumenical programme that recruits and dispatches observers (known as Ecumenical Accompaniers – EAs) to several Palestinian towns and villages to monitor the interaction between the Palestinian inhabitants and the Israeli military. The World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (WCC-EAPPI) was created in 2002 by the World Council of Churches based on a letter and an appeal from local church leaders to create an international presence in the country.
The Bedouin village outside the Kfar Adumim settlement, territory Israel captured in the 1967 Arab–Israeli War, is set to be demolished at an unknown date after Israel’s Supreme Court approved the move in May. Israel agreed to resettle the residents in an area some 12 kilometres away.
Israeli officials have said that the structures that make up the Khan al-Ahmar encampment were illegally built and pose a threat to residents because of their proximity to a highway.
Critics have said it is nearly impossible to get a building permit from Israel and that the village’s demolition and the removal of its 180 or so residents is a ploy to clear the way for new Israeli settlements.
In May, a Canadian doctor was shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers while tending to injured protesters in Gaza. Dr. Tarek Loubani, an emergency physician at Ontario’s London Health Sciences Centre and at Shifa Hospital in Gaza, said he was shot in both legs even though his team wore high-visibility jackets that identified them as medical staff.