Israel's Supreme Court ordered two foreign woman activists released on bail on Monday, saying Israeli immigration officers overstepped their bounds by detaining them in the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib on Sunday said the arrest of Spaniard Ariadna Jove Marti and Australian Bridgette Chappell in the city of Ramallah violated interim peace accords that gave Palestinians self-rule in parts of the West Bank.
Their lawyer described their arrest as part of a campaign by Israeli authorities to choke off weekly demonstrations by Palestinians, left-wing Israelis and foreign activists against Israel's West Bank wall.
Israel's military arrested Spaniard Ariadna Jove Marti and Australian Bridgette Chappell in a pre-dawn raid in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, making an incursion into a Palestinian city.
Both women belong to the International Solidarity Movement, which is at the forefront of anti-wall demonstrations.
Palestinian authorities and the women's attorney called the entire operation illegal, saying the military had no right to raid a city within an area designated by interim peace accords as being under Palestinian civil and security jurisdiction.
But the Supreme Court ignored this and ordered Marti and Chappell released on other grounds, saying immigration officers -- authorised only to operate inside Israel -- had taken custody of the women from the military at a prison inside the West Bank.
"(The immigration officers) have no authority outside the legitimate borders of Israel," the women's lawyer, Omer Schatz, told reporters before the court ordered his clients freed on bail.
The two activists were banned by the court from returning to the West Bank but told they could file an appeal against deportation from Israel, which controls the territory's borders.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad last week urged Israel to end incursions in West Bank areas which according to arrangements established under the Oslo peace process fall under full Palestinian control.
Palestinian and international activists say Israel has stepped up a campaign of arrests against protest organisers in the last two months.
The Israeli authorities deported a leading ISM activist last month, the organisation said. Eva Novakova, from the Czech Republic, had also been arrested in Ramallah.
Protesters stage weekly demonstrations in various Palestinian villages against Israel's construction of West Bank walls and fences that have denied them access to their land.
World Court has deemed Israel's wall illegal over its construction in occupied land.
Related news reports:Last Mod: 08 Şubat 2010, 16:59