US Citizen Badly Beaten by Israeli Police during Peaceful Protest

CODEPINK: Women For Peace, Press Release, June 14, 2009

Today, as Netanyahu gave his first major policy address as Prime Minister, a response to Obama's Cairo speech, an American was badly beaten in the street outside the speech during a peaceful protest at Bar-Ilan University. Police put up barricades to separate the peace group demonstrators and the counter-demonstrators. Press photographers were in the middle of the street shooting both demonstrations. One photographer, Flore Chapon, a french photo-journalist who had been documenting CODEPINK's 150 person peace delegations through Egypt, Israel and Gaza, was grabbed out of the street, arrested and taken to a police station in Ramat-Gan. Chapon was later released from police custody.

In an attempt to find out what was happening about Flore's arrest, members and coleaders of the peace delegation approached the Israeli police to ask why a member of the press was being arrested, the police responded violently, pushing them down to the ground and beating the peaceful demonstrators. Tighe Barry, a US citizen delegate from California, suffered an asthma attack during the police violence and Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK cofounder, and delegate Rae Abileah attempted to shield him from the blows. Other demonstrators called the ambulance as the riot police were unresponsive to the request for emergency medical attention. Barry was taken to the local hospital where he is currently receiving medical care. No other updates on his condition are available at the time of this release.

Ann Wright, who was at the peaceful demonstration and is a member of the 150 person CODEPINK peace delegation, said, "It is outrageous that the police would be so violent toward peaceful protestors. They were beating one of our delegates as he was having an asthma attack, they arrested press, they ignored our calls for an ambulance, they were brutally dragging women across the street--these are not the actions of a democratic state. The fact that the US government financially supports this government in its brutal actions toward Palestinians and American citizens is an outrage."

The peace groups, CODEPINK and the Coalition of Women for Peace, were demonstrating for peace in support of Obama's Cairo call to limit settlement growth and challenged him to go one step further by cutting military aid to Israel and lift the siege of Gaza.

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