Tue 12th July 2011; NO EMBARGO
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Media Release
UPDATE: ISRAEL TO DEPORT MORE UK CITIZENS TONIGHT
All but four of the 13 UK citizens imprisoned in Israel were scheduled to be deported at 1820hrs UK time, according to UK consular staff in Tel-Aviv.
Around 700 internationals had intended to travel to Bethlehem via Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport to meet with Palestinian families and farmers there, and to highlight what they refer to as “Israel’s blockade of the West Bank”. However, at the request of Israeli authorities, most were stopped by airlines from boarding their outbound flights, and over 120 of those that landed at Tel-Aviv were arrested by Police and airport border guards after citing Bethlehem as their final destination.
The four challenging their deportation are all Welsh: the deputy leader of the Welsh Green Party, Pippa Bartolotti, Joyce Giblin, Fiona Williams, and Dee Murphy.
Those due to be put on the Easyjet flight scheduled to arrive at London Luton tonight at 2355hrs include two Scots, retired Edinburgh statistician, Frank Thomas (66), and Dumfires and Galloway community worker, Joy Cherkaoui.
The English contingent should include 77 year-old retired nurse from West Chitington, Audrey Gray; Open University research fellow Les Levidow (61) of campaign group Jews Against Zionism; retired London academic Anne Gray (66); and Val Kitchen (68) from Tonbridge;
The oldest member of the group, John Lynes (83) from East Sussex, and Edinburgh lecturer, Mick Napier (64), were deported last night.
A further Scot, Ian Stewart-Hargreaves, is reported to have been released into Israel on Monday.
In a letter to Foreign Secretary William Hague, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP yesterday urged him to question his Israeli counterparts “about why peaceful activists have been treated in this way. Does Israel now have a policy of seeking to prevent human rights defenders from entering the occupied territories or entering Israel?”
Back in Edinburgh today, Mick Napier, the UK co-ordinator of what was dubbed the “Welcome to Palestine” initiative said that their “protest was simply to refuse to conceal our intention to go to the West Bank town of Bethlehem. Our aim was to highlight that Israel routinely deports those who indicate any sympathy whatsoever with Palestine. And of course, Israel has ensured that our mission has been a huge success.”
Update: 6 UK nationals (those noted above) and two US citizens landed at London's luton Airport at 2350 tonight.
Note: an earlier version of this media release wrongly indicated that Dee Murphy was to be deported tonight.
Notes for editors:
Photos of handcuffed and shackled UK citizens on website version of earlier media release, free to use, here: http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3661
Background, previous media releases, and updates here:
1. “Welcome to Palestine” is a French initiative that now has participation from across Europe and the USA.
The English-language section of the French website can be accessed here: http://bienvenuepalestine.com/?page_id=232
According to the group:
Israel’s standard practice of deporting anyone that they believe supports Palestine means than human rights activists invariably have to lie in order to pass passport control at Tel-Aviv.
However, having nothing to hide, and coming with totally peaceful intentions, we have decided that we are no longer willing to lie in order to do something that no other state would consider illegal.
Government agencies have been informed, and the Israeli authorities have been forwarded all information on our intentions.
Contrary to claims that we aim “to spread chaos at Tel Aviv airport”, our only aim is visit Palestinian families, share their daily life for a week, visit the towns, villages and refugee camps, discover the difficulties encountered by their inhabitants, and experience their culture and expectations.
2. Organisers of the Palestine visit chose the date of the 'fly-in' to coincide with the 7th anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling on 9th July 2004 that Israel's West Bank wall, which today almost completely encircles the city of Bethlehem, is illegal.
The ICJ ruling on the illegality of Israel’s Apartheid Wall can be found here: www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1677.pdf
3a. The UK co-ordinator of the initiative is Mick Napier, who, along with the majority of international participants, was due to arrive in Ben Gurion Airport on Friday July 8th.
Mick Napier is the chair of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and can be contacted on:
00 44 (0)7931200361
3b. Sofiah Macleod is the UK-based contact for press enquiries.
Sofiah Macleod: + 44 (0)7958002591 or + 44 (0)131 620 0052 or + 44 (0) 7401631658
4. Details of the UK citizens who had planned to visit Bethlehem, including statements and photos of some, here:
5. Updates available at: www.scottishpsc.org.uk and
Twitter @scottishpsc : http://twitter.com/#!/scottishpsc
6. Letter from Caroline Lucas MP to William Hague:
7. Jerusalem Post on honesty ensuring deportation:
Jerusalem Post, 4th April 2011:
“700 pro-Palestinian activists plan to land in Ben-Gurion”
8. Quote from New York Times reference criticism of Israeli leaders’ overreaction:
“Israel Blocks Flights to Protest Gathering”
New York Times, 8th July 2011
9. Details of Jerusalem Post reporter, Larry Derfner’s arrest:
“Mobocracy at Ben-Gurion Airport” by Larry Derfner, 8th July 2011
10. Jerusalem Post report of arrest of Israeli Activists:
Jerusalem Post, Friday 8th July 2011
“Aharonovitch: 100 activists expected to land in Israel”
11. Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netenyahu “has ordered Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch to exert all efforts to prevent an infiltration into Israel's borders.”
Haaretz, Wednesday 6th July 2011:
“Israel deports five ahead of anticipated influx of pro-Palestinian activists”
12. Statement from Netenyahu’s office:
"This planned event is a continuation of the attempts to undermine Israel's right to exist and to attempt to breach its borders and sovereignty by sea, land and by air," according to the MAAN news agency.
Maan News Agency, Tuesday 5th July 2011:
“Israel prepares for pro-Palestinian airport protest”
13. For Desmond Tutu’s support of an arms embargo on Israel, see Global BDS Movement:
14. Haaretz, Thursday 7th July 2011:
“Israel instructs foreign airlines to prevent departure of 300 pro-Palestinian activists”