British peace activist arrested in Gaza
The Israeli army has arrested a British peace activist in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.
The media coordinator for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) said Romany Smith was acting as a human shield by spending the night in one of the Palestinian houses threatened with demolition along the border with Egypt.
"Soldiers came at around 1.30 am and took her out.î
ìThe embassy has been trying to find out where she is but we have so far been unable to locate her," Tom Wallace said.
Her capture coincided with an Israeli raid into the flashpoint city.
The army did not confirm her arrest, but said the incursion was aimed at destroying tunnels allegedly used by Palestinian militants to smuggle weapons from Egypt.
The arrest will contribute to growing fears that a campaign has been mounted against peace activists in Israel.
Another activist Tom Hurndall was shot as he tried to help a Palestinian woman and her children flee Israeli gunfire a few weeks ago.
He was wearing a fluorescent orange vest, and witnesses say that there had been no exchange of fire between the Israeli army and Palestinian gunmen that day.
In March a US activist, Rachel Corrie, 23, was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer.
An Israeli army investigation into the death has now concluded that its forces were not to blame. It accused Corrie and other members of the International Solidarity Movement of "illegal, irresponsible and dangerous" behaviour.
She too was wearing an orange vest when she knelt in front of the vehicle, but it kept going.
Brian Avery, 24, yet another activist was also shot in the face by Israeli soldiers in Jenin.
The ISM has activists operating all over the West Bank and Gaza who come to the region from around the world to try to act as a buffer between the Israeli army and settlers and Palestinians.
Their activities range from protecting the olive harvest to escorting children to school. They often work with Israeli human rights groups.