Hamilton rabbi arrested by Israeli army while repairing a road in West Bank

A Hamilton rabbi was arrested and detained while working on a road in the West Bank on Friday.

David Mivasair is an active member of Independent Jewish Voices of Canada

Rabbi David Mivasair of Hamilton speaks in a video after being detained in West Bank. He's traveling through West Bank and Israel as part of a 10-day delegation with the Centre for Jewish Non-Violence. (Facebook)

A Hamilton rabbi was arrested and detained while working on a road in West Bank on Friday.

Rabbi David Mivisair says he was helping repair a road in South Hebron Hills to improve access to Palestinian villages when Israeli authorities handcuffed and detained him.

Mivasair is part of a 10-day delegation with the Centre for Jewish Non-Violence (CJNV). He was part of a group of more than 125 people filling potholes with gravel and dirt near Bir al-Eid. He was arrested with about 10 North American Jews, two Palestinian journalists and three Palestinian residents, he said in a Facebook video.

The road provides crucial access for about a dozen "very isolated" Palestinian communities, he said. "They have a road," but the road is "an old, old, old dirt track." 

Dozens of members of the Israeli army arrived with sound grenades and declared the area a closed military zone, Mivasair told CBC News. They told the group it had 10 minutes to leave.

"I think they went after me because I was filming it with my phone," he said. "They took away my phone and tied my hands together with electrical tape."

Mivasair was charged with being in a closed military zone, he said, and released with conditions.

Two Jewish Torontonians are also part of the delegation, said Corey Balsam, spokesperson for Independent Jewish Voices of Canada (IJV).

The group, Balsam said, doesn't propose a specific solution to the conflict there, but advocates for human rights. "We support justice and peace for all in Israel-Palestine."

Israeli authorities have demolished some Palestinian homes in the area recently, and more are planned, IJV says.

Repairing roads to Palestinian villages in Area C is "an important factor in stopping the expansion of (Israeli) settlements, resisting the occupation and confiscation of more land, and ensuring humanitarian needs are met," said Nidal Younes, head of Masafer Yatta Council, in an IJV media release.


Samantha Craggs is journalist based in Windsor, Ont. She is executive producer of CBC Windsor and previously worked as a reporter and producer in Hamilton, specializing in politics and city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca