Our Campaign aims

A campaign to raise awareness of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice.
We support the call for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions of Israel and Israeli goods.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Eve Hearld: Irish Mum held in Israel

AN IRISH mum has gone on hunger strike while being held in an Israeli detention centre.Maire Ni Mhurchu (56), also known as Dee Murphy, travelled to Israel as part of a peaceful protest group.
However, minutes after landing in Tel Aviv with 120 other protesters on Friday, she was taken to one of two detention centres south of Tel Aviv.While half the activists have since been released and deported, Ms Murphy is still being held in Israel.

Ms Murphy, who is originally from Cork but now lives in Wales, travelled with the Swansea Palestine Community Link, one of several European factions that planned to take part in a week-long "flytilla" of protests.
She and another member of the Swansea group said they wanted "to express solidarity with the Palestinians in the West Bank and draw attention to life under Israeli occupation".

Dubliner Paul O'Connor, a film-maker, who is one of the founding members of the Welsh link and works with Ms Murphy, said she had been taken to the Giv'on immigration detention centre in Ramle, along with other women while the men are being held at Eyal.
"I spoke to Dee on Friday. Israeli authorities diverted the plane to a different terminal and they surrounded it by police -- there were about 60 police officers lined up with handcuffs when they arrived," he said.

Overcrowded
"About 30 of the women were then taken to a room, and then the phone died -- I presume it was taken off her -- but I got some news through the Irish ambassador for Israel, Breifne O'Reilly, who said he had visited them over the weekend and they were in high spirits.

Paul (42) said that he understood the mother-of-three was being kept in a room with seven other detainees.
"It's overcrowded and at this time of the year, it would be stifling," he said.
Read more

Monday, 18 July 2011

Evening Post:Imprisoned women film their jail ordeal

Imprisoned women film their jail ordeal
South Wales Evening Post

A hidden video camera recorded the daily life of two Swansea women behind bars in an Israeli prison.Council worker Fiona Williams, of Mumbles, who returned to the city on Thursday was one of a group of a dozen UK activists to travel to the country in protest against the blockade of Palestine.

Book-keeper D Murphy, of Mount Pleasant, was also detained on her arrival at Ben Guirion airport in Tel Aviv despite breaking no laws.The women managed to smuggle out the recorded video moments of their six nights locked up in the high security prison in Israel.The video clips shows how Miss Williams was forced to scrub the prison floors in exchange for food.Life inside the hot cells and tense interactions with the Israeli guards were all captured.

The images will form part of a documentary being produced about the attempt by the Swansea women to challenge the Israeli blockade of the West Bank.
Read more

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Pro-Palestine ‘flytilla’ activists vow to return to Middle East

by Simon Gaskell, Western Mail

FOUR pro-Palestine activists from Wales who were detained in Israel last night vowed a return to the Middle East after staging hunger strikes and enduring hot and cramped conditions in jail.

The women were the only remaining British detainees from a so-called “flytilla” protest who had been arrested when they arrived at Tel Aviv airport a week ago.
Pippa Bartolotti, 57, the deputy leader of the Wales Green Party; Dee Murphy, 56, from Swansea, a founder member of Swansea Palestine Community Link; Fiona Williams, 46, from Mumbles; and Joyce Giblin from Newport were among 124 people arrested on their way to the West Bank
They were part of a “flytilla” protest in response to flotilla of ships being prevented by Greece from sailing to the Gaza Strip in a bid to break the Israeli blockade on the Palestinian territory.
Click here to find out more!

After being arrested, the women had resisted deportation from Givon prison in Ramle and Ms Williams and Ms Murphy had briefly gone on hunger strike in solidarity with male detainees who were denied a phone call.
The Welsh women, alongside one other German woman, were the last people to leave the jail.

Now Ms Murphy has spoken about her week in captivity and explained she still doesn’t know what crime the group committed.And she said she was ready to return to Israel – despite running the risk of being arrested again.An hour after arriving at her home in Swansea yesterday, Ms Murphy said: “I’m absolutely determined. I can’t see how but I know I’m going to find a way.

“If we take this lying down those people in the West Bank have lost more friends. They have lost enough.”

She said they were detained as soon as they handed over their passports.
“We were never given a reason,” said Ms Murphy. “We asked again and again what law have we broken, what crime have we committed, why are we in this deportation centre?
“We were never given an answer. We don’t really know now.
“The Israelis said we were in transit and we weren’t actually in Israel which is why we didn’t have normal detainee rights.

“We weren’t allowed phone calls or food to be brought in because we were not in Israel they said.”
Ms Murphy said she believed had the group been less honest about their intentions they would have been successful, something she emphasised with a T-shirt protest in jail.“If you knew the average age of the group... it was about 55 to 60 including a lot of retirees and old people,” she said. “They gave us T-shirts and I wrote on mine: ‘I’m in an Israeli jail because I refuse to lie’.

“If I had said I was on a Christian pilgrimage I would have got through. Of course it is political.”
The flytilla party was heading for the Aida Palestinian refugee camp where a week of activities had been specially organised for them.
Ms Murphy said: “If they had said: ‘Go to Bethlehem [in the Israeli occupied West Bank],’ none of this was going to happen.

“This was a week of cultural activities at the Aida refugee camp.
“They were looking forward to us coming and had organised for us to stay with Palestinian families and put on a hall for overspill. Everything was in place, it was heart-breaking.”

Conditions in the prison were cramped at first with between six and eight people sleeping in the same cell. “I don’t want to dramatise it,” Ms Murphy said. “It was basic. We had a shower in a room. It was warm and we had toilets in the room – it wasn’t very pleasant.”
The prisoners’ road home began when the fellow German female prisoner was put in front of an Israeli judge at her request.
She was told she had been held because she had come to Israel to provoke and was duly deported.
Ms Murphy said the group felt it was “closure” by getting into court and in front of a judge and that paved the way to go home.
“There was kind of a feeling of closure. I spoke to my lawyer. He said: ‘She has been the test case for you. To stay now you will only get the same results.’
“I’m just so glad to get out of there.”
Read More

Friday, 15 July 2011

Legal challenges start against Israel

Both the women from Swansea are now back home safely. D Murphy arrived at lunchtime today, tired but still determined. She stayed behind in the prison to support a woman who was taking a legal action to challenge the deportation.

No reason or charges have been given for detaining 124 people for up to 6 days in prison. Now Israel is claiming that the people didn't actually enter Israel as they were all still classed as 'in transit'. The court case could take months to work it's way through the system but the women are determined to see it through.
Photo: In D's passport is stamped ENTRY DENIED.

Secret camera captures life of Swansea women in Israeli prison

The secret life of Swansea women behind bars in an Israeli prison. Using a hidden video camera, Swansea women recorded their 6 nights locked up in a high security prison in Israel. Stopped at Tel Aviv airport last Friday the 2 Swansea women alongside 122 other EU nationals were imprisoned despite breaking no laws.

Last year Israeli forces performed a raid on the hospital wing of Ramla prison 25 detainees residing in the hospital wing for treatment of chronic illnesses were searched for mobile phones and other communication devices.One of the patients testified for the ministry, and called the search "barbaric," explaining that most of the belongings of the detainees in the ward were broken.

So getting a hidden camera into the Prison was tough decision but one we felt was worth the risk.

Video footage and video stills are available for broadcast, Please contact paulo@undercurrents.org or 07973 298359




The video clips shows how Fiona Williams, a mum from Wales was forced to scrub the prison floors in exchange for food.

Life inside the hot cells, metal doors slamming and tense interactions with the Israeli guards were all captured. The images will form part of a documentary being produced about the attempt by Welsh women to challenge the Israeli blockade of the West Bank. The documentary will be released later this year.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

ITV Wales: 'Flytilla' women home

A group of women from Wales are back home tonight after they tried to go to Gaza to highlight the issues between Israel and Palestine but ended up in prison.It took six days for them to be released and they never got the chance to enter the Country. TV report by: Nicola Hendy

Using secretly recorded footage inside the prison on ITV report http://www.itv.com/wales/flytilla-women-home96302/

BBC:Three Welsh Palestinian activists home after protest

Full Story on BBC here

Swansea Woman Back Home!

Fiona Williams is home in Swansea and hasn't slept since 6pm yesterday. She is swamped with media interviews.She will be on ITV Wales tonight and is being photographed for Evening post now.
Photo:Israeli soldier filming the Swansea women at the airport

We expect D Murphy to be arriving Luton at 23.55 on EasyJet flight from Tel Aviv.

Relief as Welsh Women return from Israel

Palestine supporting women from Wales will arrive back in the UK today from Israel. Their ordeal is coming to a close seven days after Israel shackled, handcuffed and imprisoned the 4 women.

Fiona Williams from Mumbles will be back in Swansea around 1pm while D Murphy from Swansea will land at 8pm in Luton airport tonight.

It has been a day of confusion as for more than more than 12 hours no direct word has been heard from the women leaving friends and relatives to feel concerned about their safety.This morning the British consulate revealed that they too are confused.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office wrote in an email today;

'My colleague from Tel Aviv had gone to the prison to visit Fiona and the other British nationals this morning, when he got there he was informed that they had been returned to the UK last night. Unfortunately my colleagues were not aware of this until this morning.'

Paul O'Connor, a spokesperson for Swansea Palestine Action said today 'We are all relieved that the women are safely back in Wales and we look forward to greeting them back as heroes. They stood up to the bullying tactics of Israel and showed just how absurd the situation is. Hopefully their actions will pave a smoother path for future trips for those wanting to visit the people of Palestine.'

Notes:
Latest updates on http://www.swanseapalestine.org

Details of the 4 Welsh women
Pippa Bartolotti, 57, deputy leader of the Wales Green Party
Pippa has lived in Malpas, Newport West for 25 years and has worked in
business most her life - from the fashion industry in London, to
electronics and software development here in Wales where she has held
various directorships. Ms Bartolotti, has lived in Israel for seven years.

Joyce Giblin
Joyce lives in Newport and is a member of the Socialist Labour Party. She
collected food with her mother and distributed parcels for the miners
during the strike.

D Murphy 56, Book keeper
D was born and raised in Cork, Ireland and has lived in Swansea for 26
years. She has 3 adult children still living in Swansea. She works as a
book-keeper for Undercurrents, a local arts charity. She founded the
Swansea Palestine community link and has organised football matches
between Wales and Palestine. D raised funds to purchase an ambulance which
she drove to Gaza to deliver to a hospital.

Fiona Williams, 47, Swansea Council worker
Fiona lives in Mumbles and works for Swansea council as a development
worker. She is a single mum and has a son. She organised a community
auction to raise funds for herself and D to travel to Palestine.Fiona has
never been to Palestine

Welsh women are missing

It is now 12 hours since we heard that the Welsh women were released from Israel prison and boarded a flight back to UK. Yes still no word.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office are as confused as we are.This morning they replied to our email and stated
'My colleague from Tel Aviv had gone to the prison to visit Fiona and the other British nationals this morning, when he got there he was informed that they had been
returned to the UK last night. Unfortunately my colleagues were not aware of this until this morning.'



Today's Evening Post reports:
FOUR Welsh campaigners jailed in Israel are the last ones standing after the rest of their group was deported.The final few include Fiona Williams, from Mumbles, and D Murphy, from Mount Pleasant.
And as of last night — their sixth in a cramped, hot cell — they, along with Joyce Giblin and Pippa Bartolotti, both from Newport, were refusing to sign deportation papers.They were also set to launch a legal challenge of their imprisonment by meeting with a German lawyer who has volunteered his services for free.
Miss Williams's partner John McLean, from Waunarlwydd, said the party was trying to establish on what grounds they were being questioned and held.
"It's gone from the British Embassy to a German solicitor now," he said.
"The four Welsh women are the only ones left and it's great for Wales and for Swansea. We are the last ones standing. It really shows how much they believe in their cause.
"I haven't spoken to her since Tuesday morning, but I am being updated by Paul O'Connor, who updates our Swansea Action for Palestine website, hourly."

Additionally, yesterday Gower MP Martin Caton contacted the Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who has responsibility for the Middle East about the conditions Miss Williams and Mrs Murphy are being kept in.
He requested that the Under-Secretary of State make representations regarding their arrest and imprisonment.Mr Caton said: "I also asked him to request that the Israeli authorities allow them to continue their peaceful journey to the West Bank."
Read More

Thursday Morning: Update on release of Swansea women

Despite the report from BBC that the women were put on a plane back from Israel last night, we still haven't heard anything from the women.

The Scottish Palestine solidarity campaign did receive a text from Pippa stating that Fiona and Joyce and Pippa were getting on a plane last night. D however was staying in Prison with Angelica, a German woman who is fighting a legal battle against deportation.

Once we can confirm the news, we will post it here. Meanwhile for a Welsh read about the case. Click here

Israel: Ymgrychwyr o Gymru wedi eu rhyddhau
Bu Fiona Williams yn ymprydio am 48 awr Mae pedair Cymraes aeth i brotestio yn Israel wedi cael eu hanfon adref.Roedd y merched o Abertawe wedi mynd efo grŵp i wrthdystio ynglŷn â'r ffordd annheg y maen nhw'n honni y mae pobl Palesteina'n cael eu trin.Maen nhw'n dweud eu bod wedi cael eu cadw mewn carchar yno ar ôl cyrraedd Tel Aviv ddydd Gwener diwethaf.Cafodd protestwyr eraill o'r DU eu halltudio ond gwrthododd y Cymry gan fynnu nad oedden nhw wedi gwneud dim o'i le.
Read more

Back in Israel, the results of court cases are a minor victory yesterday.
Court rules 2 pro-Palestinian activists can stay in Israel, with conditions
Two activists who took part in fly-in will not be deported to their home countries if they agree not to participate in demonstrations. Read in Haaretz
An Israeli court ruled Wednesday that two pro-Palestinian activists slated for deportation could remain, but only if they agreed not to participate in demonstrations, a spokesman for the Welcome to Palestine organization said.Sergio Yahni, whose organization is behind a fly-in of pro-Palestinian activists, could not say, however, whether the two agreed to the condition laid down by the District Court in the city of Petah Tikva, east of Tel Aviv.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

BBC: Welsh Palestinian activists put on plane home

We are still trying to confirm this but the BBC believe they are on a plane coming to UK.

13 July 2011 Last updated at 20:54
Welsh Palestinian activists put on plane home

Four Welsh women among UK activists detained in Israel as part of a so-called "flytilla" protest have been put on a plane home.
The four say they were held at Ramla's Givon Prison after landing at Tel Aviv in Israel last Friday.Other UK protesters were deported but the Welsh women refused, saying they had done nothing wrong.Shortly before their release, the Israeli embassy said authorities were looking after those being held.

The activists had planned to attend West Bank events in support of Palestinians but were detained at Ben Gurion Airport.Some of the protesters, including Fiona Williams, 46, and Dee Murphy, 56, both from the Swansea Palestine group, went on hunger strike after they say they were prevented from making phone calls.

They accepted food again after 48 hours when they were allowed to call home.
Pippa Bartolotti, 57, deputy leader of the Wales Green Party, and Joyce Giblin, a member of the Socialist Labour Party from Newport, were also detained on Friday.
Speaking from the plane at Ben Gurion airport, Ms Bartolotti said she had bruises and had been handcuffed "very roughly" shortly after her arrival.
She said the group had been treated badly and were asked to sign a statement that was written only in Hebrew.Earlier, Amir Ofek, spokesman for the Israeli embassy in the UK, said of the protest: "The Israeli authorities went beyond basic necessities in ensuring the comfort of those being held, providing regular contact with their families at home, and issuing passengers with any medication that they might need.

"Consular support from the British embassy was immediately requested, in the form of visits from British staff."He said Israel was a democratic country where heated debates occurred every hour of the day across a range of issues.

"They do not take place however in an airport, one of the most sensitive buildings in the country, where the security threat is real. No other state would tolerate this and neither will we," he added.

The timing of the action, as a flotilla of ships trying to break a blockade on the Gaza Strip was prevented from leaving Greece, led some to call it a "flytilla".
Organisers denied the protest was linked to the attempt to break the blockade.
BBC

Partner makes emotive call from Israeli prison

South Wales Evening Post
A CAMPAIGNER held in an Israeli jail has made an emotional phone call to her partner for the first time since being taken captive.
Swansea Council worker Fiona Williams was able to leave a voicemail for John McLean early yesterday morning before finally speaking to him.
She told him of the appalling conditions in the cramped cells, the heat and the pressure to sign deportation forms.Mr McLean, 47, from Waunarlwydd, said: "She left me a voicemail in the morning, then I called her and she was calling me at the same time. Then she finally got to speak to me.

"She was a bit emotional and she was telling me about the conditions. It was really quite awful. They were being treated like criminals. There are five or six of them in really small cell and the stink in the heat is awful. They are not given any opportunity to exercise and they have very limited contact with the embassy or someone to represent them. It's only been in the past few days they've had someone to go in."

However, despite the terrible conditions, Mr McLean said the group were in "incredibly high spirits", and Miss Williams was still very determined in her mission.Miss Williams was one of two Swansea women travelling to Israel to protest peacefully against the blockade of Palestine with a group of campaigners.
She and D Murphy, from Mount Pleasant, were part of a group of 16 people from the UK, who flew to Ben Guirion airport in Tel Aviv on July 8. The group had been on a hunger strike over officials' refusals to allow the detainees access to representation. However, that has now ended.

"They (Israeli officials) want them to sign deportation papers, which they are completely refusing to do," Mr McLean said.
"Their (the protesters) biggest worry if they sign the papers is that will open doors: it will set a precedent for anyone else visiting.

"Fiona wants to be there at least a week, so she wants to be there until Saturday, but after that she might just give in because she has responsibilities."
In the meantime Mr McLean, who works in customer services, can do very little except wait for information of his 46-year-old partner.

He said he is watching several news stations at one time, while his Arabic-speaking sister is keeping watch on the Arabic news stations for any information.
"It's frustrating," he added. "Things change very quickly, but there is a lot of uncertainty over when they are coming back at the moment."
However, despite being jailed in terrible conditions, Mr McLean said his partner was still only thinking of others.
He added: "The voicemail was asking how I was doing, saying 'I hope everything's OK with you' and not really talking about what she's been going through, but that's the sort of person she is. She always puts everybody else first."
Two of the detainees returned to the UK yesterday. Mick Napier, 64, chairman of The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and retired university lecturer John Lynes, 83, flew back into Luton Airport in the early hours and more were expected to return last night.

Mr Napier said: "We were chained, handcuffed and detained for no apparent reason — we had committed no crimes — no UK or Israeli law was breached.
"We were denied any information about any charges against us and were also denied a telephone call over the entire period we were in prison."
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman added: "We can confirm that a number of British nationals were detained at the airport in Tel Aviv on Friday.
"All the British nationals currently detained pending deportation have been visited by consular staff from the embassy in Tel Aviv and we have been in contact with families in the UK."We understand they will be deported in the next few days."
Read more

Swansea MP requests the women are released to go to Palestine

Martin Caton MP

Today Martin Caton, MP for Gower, has contacted the Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who has responsibility for the Middle East about the conditions Fiona and D are being kept in. He requested that the Under-Secretary of State make representations regarding their arrest and imprisonment.
Mr Caton said
'I also asked him to request that the Israeli authorities allow them to continue their peaceful journey to the West Bank.'

Evening Post reports:
Welsh women stand firm on Israeli protest

Read more here

4 Welsh women are only UK citizens still in the Israeli Prison

The 2 Swansea and 2 other Welsh women are facing their sixth night in a dirty Israeli prison.

Last night at 2350hrs: 6 UK nationals and two US citizens landed at Luton Airport after being deported by Israel earlier. Four UK nationals remain in Israeli prison while they contest their deportation. The four, all Welsh, include the deputy leader of the Welsh Green Party, Pippa Bartolotti, Joyce Giblin, Fiona Williams, and D Murphy. They are all contesting Israels right to deport them.
The Welsh women are now facing a sixth night in jail for committing no crime or breaking any law.

Who are the 4 women from Wales?
Photo: Pippa and Joyce
Pippa Bartolotti, 57, deputy leader of the Wales Green Party
Pippa Bartolotti has lived in Malpas, Newport West for 25 years and has worked in business most her life - from the fashion industry in London, to electronics and software development here in Wales where she has held various directorships. Ms Bartolotti, has lived in Israel for seven years.

Joyce Giblin
Joyce lives in Newport and is a member of the Socialist Labour Party. She collected food with her mother and distributed parcels for the miners during the strike.
photo:D and Fiona

D Murphy 56, Book keeper
D was born and raised in Cork, Ireland and has lived in Swansea for 26 years. She has 3 adult children still living in Swansea. She works as a book-keeper for Undercurrents, a local arts charity. She founded the Swansea Palestine community link and has organised football matches between Wales and Palestine. D raised funds to purchase an ambulance which she drove to Gaza to deliver to a hospital.

Fiona Williams, 47, Swansea Council worker
Fiona lives in Mumbles and works for Swansea council as a development worker. She is a single mum and has a son. She organised a community auction to raise funds for herself and D to travel to Palestine.Fiona has never been to Palestine.

The Wave radio support the campaign to release the women

Swansea's The Wave Radio are really behind us in rasing awaresness of the situation in Israel. They have reported about the women on the hour, every hour since Friday. Today they are running an interview with Mick Napier who was in prison with D and Fiona. Catch the news on the hour or listen to an short audio clip here

Swansea people send letter to MP's calling on Government to act

Dear Geraint Davies and Martin Caton AM

Detention of Swansea women by Israel
Constituents of yours are among those imprisoned in Israel after being unlawfully detained in transit through Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport on the way to West Bank Palestine.We are referring to D Murphy, an Irish citizen resident in Mount Pleasant, and Fiona Williams of Mumbles.

Their detention is unlawful because the Israeli occupation and settlement of the West Bank is illegal under international law. It is in furtherance of this policy that Israel has closed all independent access routes to the occupied territories, leaving only Tel Aviv airport and the Israeli-controlled Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan.

Although Israel cites security reasons for detaining the ‘fly-in’ passengers over the weekend, there was no risk to security at the airport or anywhere else in Israel or the occupied territories.Passengers are routinely searched anyway, and those on the weekend ‘fly-in’ were committed to non violence, as were their Palestinian hosts.

The detention of these passengers, among scores of others, is yet another assertion of the occupation in defiance of international law, as recognized by the British government among others.Consular help for the victims is not enough. What is now required is at very least a formal protest by the UK and other governments concerned, and a clear demand that this will not happen again. Visitors to Palestine should not be forced to lie about their destination or pose as pilgrims. The British government should not leave it to individual citizens to assert and act upon the international law to which it subscribes, and which it has a duty to enforce.

Please convey this message as urgently and forcefully as you can to the ministers concerned, and we would welcome any other help you can offer.


yours sincerely

Greg Wilkinson, 19 Trafalgar Place SA2 0BU
Ada Garton, 19 Trafalgar Place SA2 0BU
Clare Pilborough 34, Glen Road, West Cross SA3 5PR
Barbara Clark, 33 Brynmill Terrace, SA2 0BA
Maggie Tracey, 6 Pen-y-Bryn, Cwmllynfell SA9 2FL
Keith M Ross, 2 Francis Street, Brynmill SA1 4NH
Lisa Reese, 51 Linkside Drive, Southgate SA3 2BS
Brian and Jan Jones, 72 Heol Gwyn, Yr Alltwen, Pontardawe SA8 3AN
Deborah Fink (Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods), 51 Langley Drive, London E11 2LN.
Bob Cotterill, 8 Harries St,. Mt. Pleasant, Swansea, SA1 6HR.
Marilyn and Alan Thomas, 8 Western Close, Mumbles SA3 4HF

Photo of Fiona, Joy and D

We just received a new photo from Joy Cherkaoui- snapped in Israli airport on Friday before they were all sent to prison. The photo was sent via Joys iPhone on Friday at 4.22pm yet and it took 6 days to get through to us. Did Israel block it we wonder?

Irishwoman refusing to sign deportation papers in Israel


The Irish Times - Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Irishwoman refusing to sign deportation papers in Israel
MARY FITZGERALD, Foreign Affairs Correspondent

AN IRISHWOMAN detained in Israel since last week after travelling there as part of a so-called “flytilla” protest is continuing to refuse to sign deportation papers.Dee Murphy (56) was held after disembarking from an aircraft at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport on Friday. Ms Murphy, from Cork but living in Wales, had flown to Israel with activists from Swansea. They planned to visit Palestinian families in the West Bank as part of the “flytilla” protest. Ms Murphy is a founding member of an organisation called the Swansea Palestine Community Link.

Ms Murphy had travelled to Israel on her Irish passport. Ireland’s Ambassador to Israel, Breifne O’Reilly, has met her at the detention facility.Ms Murphy and another detained activist from Swansea, Fiona Williams, have told relatives and friends that they will continue to resist deportation and are prepared to stay in the detention centre until at least the weekend.

“They are doing this as a form of protest against the activities of the Israeli government,” said Paul O’Connor, a friend of the two women.Mr O’Connor said he had spoken to Ms Murphy yesterday morning by phone.She informed him that she and Ms Williams had briefly gone on hunger strike after which their demand to make phone calls was met.

Ms Murphy complained that the facility where they were being held was “scruffy, dirty and very basic”.
More than 100 foreign activists have been detained as part of the “flytilla” protest. Israel also persuaded airlines to prevent another 200 from boarding Israel-bound aircraft from Europe last week.

The protest came after a bid by activists to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza was stymied when Greece prevented a flotilla of ships from sailing to the territory.
An Irish vessel was earlier forced to abandon its plans to take part in the flotilla after it was damaged. Activists on board, including a number of Irish politicians, claimed the boat had been sabotaged.Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has warned similar protests will be blocked in the future. “Israel will continue to frustrate provocations and attempts to break through our borders, whether by land, sea or air,” he said at the weekend.
Read More

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

More UK citizens to be released tonight

We have just got confirmed reports that all the UK nationals will be deported tonight from Israel. However Fiona, D, Pippa and Joyce are refusing to be deported for a crime they haven't committed. They will insist on staying in the Israeli prison. A German woman is hiring a lawyer to challenge the incarceration.

2350hrs: 6 UK nationals and two US citizens landed at Luton Airport after being deported by Israel earlier. Four UK nationals remain in Israeli prison while they contest their deportation. The four, all Welsh, include the deputy leader of the Welsh Green Party, Pippa Bartolotti, Joyce Giblin, Fiona Williams, and Dee Murphy.


More here as the story unfolds.

Four Welsh activists remain in Israel as first captured campaigners return to UK


Two British campaigners have arrived back in the UK after they were detained in Israel while trying to visit the West Bank town of Bethlehem.Mick Napier, 64, chairman of The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and retired university lecturer John Lynes, 83, flew back into Luton Airport early this morning after being deported by officials.

They were amongst 13 British people, including four Welsh passengers, who were detained by soldiers at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on Friday before being put in prison.The four Welsh passengers were: Pippa Bartolotti, 57, deputy leader of the Wales Green Party; Dee Murphy, 56, from Swansea, founder member of Swansea Palestine Community Link; Joyce Giblin and Fiona Williams.
Click here to find out more!

University lecturer Mr Napier said that all members of his group began a hunger strike after information on charges against them was not provided and they were denied a phone call.
Read More

Interview with first UK deported man

Mick Napier was the first person deported back to UK. He tells his story about meeting D and Fiona in prison and how he was shackled.

Ireland Evening Herald: Irish mum held in Israel goes on hunger strike

Irish mum held in Israel goes on hunger strike
By Adelina Campos Tuesday July 12 2011
AN IRISH mum has gone on hunger strike while being held in an Israeli detention centre.Maire Ni Mhurchu (56), also known as Dee Murphy, travelled to Israel as part of a peaceful protest group.

However, minutes after landing in Tel Aviv with 120 other protesters on Friday, she was taken to one of two detention centres south of Tel Aviv.While half the activists have since been released and deported, Ms Murphy is still being held in Israel.

Ms Murphy, who is originally from Cork but now lives in Wales, travelled with the Swansea Palestine Community Link, one of several European factions that planned to take part in a week-long "flytilla" of protests.She and another member of the Swansea group said they wanted "to express solidarity with the Palestinians in the West Bank and draw attention to life under Israeli occupation".

Dubliner Paul O'Connor, a film-maker, who is one of the founding members of the Welsh link and works with Ms Murphy, said she had been taken to the Giv'on immigration detention centre in Ramle, along with other women while the men are being held at Eyal.

"I spoke to Dee on Friday. Israeli authorities diverted the plane to a different terminal and they surrounded it by police -- there were about 60 police officers lined up with handcuffs when they arrived," he said.

Overcrowded
"About 30 of the women were then taken to a room, and then the phone died -- I presume it was taken off her -- but I got some news through the Irish ambassador for Israel, Breifne O'Reilly, who said he had visited them over the weekend and they were in high spirits.Paul (42) said that he understood the mother-of-three was being kept in a room with seven other detainees."It's overcrowded and at this time of the year, it would be stifling," he said.
Link to story here

First people back in UK share their experiences

“There has been much misinformation suggesting that we came here to demonstrate in the airport and cause disorder wherever we went. The office of Prime Minister Netenyahu said, ‘This planned event is a continuation of the attempts to undermine Israel's right to exist’, and ordered a major police and security operation to prevent it.“In reality our 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.
“If anything has undermined ‘Israel's right to exist’, it is the very actions of the state itself.
Mick Napier shares his experience
Read more here

A BBC report on the first British prisoners to return to the UK
"Some of the men and women being detained started a hunger strike this morning because we were denied any information about any charges against us and were also denied a telephone call over the entire period we were in prison. But we are all in high spirits." Mick Napier
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-14116304
Photo: Inside the cramped metal van, shacked and handcuffed by Israel
First person to arrive back in UK shares his experience with The Independent newspaper
"We were chained, handcuffed and detained for no apparent reason - we had committed no crimes - no UK or Israeli law was breached.We were denied any information about any charges against us and were also denied a telephone call over the entire period we were in prison.It was a situation of lawlessness."
Mr Mick Napier
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/deported-israel-campaigners-return-to-the-uk-2312350.html



Radio report on the Swansea women after 4 nights in prison

Latest radio report from The Wave radio

Swansea Women End Hunger Strike in Israeli Prison

At 7am this morning, we had the first contact since Friday with the 2 women from Swansea who have been imprisoned in Israel. D Murphy and Fiona Williams were amongst 124 people from Europe who were arrested at Tel Aviv airport on Friday as part of a solidarity protest with the people of Palestine.

The 2 Swansea women ended their hunger strike at 7am GMT this morning after 48 hours when their demands to make a phone call were met.They said they are both refusing to sign the Israeli papers to accept being deported.Fiona Williams said she is resisting being deported and is prepared to stay in prison until at least the weekend.

Speaking from her cell Fiona said
'It is difficult for us here, but at least people in prison can get visitors.The people living in the West Bank can't get visitors because Israel holds the keys. We want to challenge that power.'

She continued to say
'There is no legal reason for our incarceration.The risk of us accepting deportation, is that it will be normalized and create a precedent by which the Israeli Authorities are permitted to decide on who has the right or not to come visit Palestine'

D Murphy said
'There are 27 women here in the prison and 5 in our cell. It is scruffy, dirty and very very basic and it is very hot and sweaty at night. But our spirits are still raised knowing that people are supporting us beyond these barbed wire and thick walls.'

She continued;
'In Israel, if you are prepared to lie constantly about your destination regarding Palestine, it is easier to survive here.I want to go to Bethlehem and support the people of Palestine and I am willing to keep resisting deportation.'

Phone calls from the prison maybe more frequent now after their hunger strike has opened up a channel of communication to the outside world.

Notes:
For interviews with Fiona Williams partner John McClean or for photographs of the 2 women contact Paul 07973 298359 paulo@undercurrents.org

Monday, 11 July 2011

ITV Televison report on Swansea Women

As the women enter their 4th night in an Israeli prison, ITV Wales has made a great TV report about D and Fiona


Link to story here

Meanwhile
Flight possibilities for Swansea women if they get deported
Easyjet has a flight at 20.20pm from Tel Aviv each day arriving in Luton airport 23.55pm. Only 1 seat is left on tomorrows flight so unlikely to be on that plane.

Interview with D from the Prison

We just got this interview with D and other people from a lawyer who got into the Ramle prison. He gives the picture of the experience.

In the evening they were put into trucks that they normally use to transfer prisoners. These metal trucks with metal chairs are very small. At least 12 people were put in one of these trucks and left there for a long time without food, drinks or air conditioning. After several hours they asked for food and drinks, but they got nothing. ‘This to me is shocking to hear, as there are several men of age that were detained. Among them an Irish and British man of respectively 73 and 83 years old. To put these men in a small van that is not bigger than 1 square meter with ten other people and without food and drinks for over 4 hours, is just jarring.’
Today Anan heard stories about how the police attacked the group of travelers at the airport as well. This was a quick and violent approach. An Irish woman told him how the group was surrounded by at least 25 soldiers and security guards. As they were provoked, a man was shouted at, before he got beaten by soldiers and then handcuffed for no reason. ‘I actually met this man in the prison today and the bite marks still can be seen on his hand and neck.’

After being put in the van and waiting for several hours outside the airport, the detainees were brought to the prison in Ramleh. When brought to the van they, however, were told that they would be taken to a hotel before being deported back home. Without any additional information or explanation, at three in the morning they had to find out they were actually taken to a prison. ‘Most of them arrived at four in the afternoon at the airport and until they arrived at the prison, they had to do without food and water for this whole period of time. All of their luggage was taken at the airport, including their money. ‘
Read more

Some released..58 now left in Israeli Prisons

UK Consular staff in Tel Aviv report that 2 UK nationals are due to be deported at 1820 UK time, and should arrive in London Luton at 2355. (Easy Jet flight: EZY 2086)
At 83, the oldest UK participant, John Lyons is due to travel with Mick Napier, the UK co-ordinator of the Welcome to Palestine initiate.

Jerusalem Post report:
Israel has deported some 23 "Flightilla" activists today, leaving only 58 in Israeli prison awaiting flights out of the country.Six French citizens left Israel on an easyJet flight bound for Switzerland. In addition, 15 Belgian citizens were sent on a Swiss Air flight to Zurich. Two German citizens were flown on Austrian Airlines to Austria. One activists from Belgium was released into Israel, after pledging not to violate any laws.

Although they refused to be deported, they were forced to board a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. The flight will reach Frankfurt at 20:00 (german time) and some passengers will transit to Berlin (arrival 22:50) and Hanover (arrival 22:10) according to the Israeli Airport Authority’s assurances while Lufthansa said the plane has a delay of at least one hour.

What can we expect from the deportation process?

The Swansea women are refusing to co-operate with Israel so they will not accept being deported. So what can we expect Israel to do?

Last year Irish Nobel Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire was deported from Israel on October 5th after spending more than a week in detention at Tel Aviv Airport as she attempted to fight the deportation order.4 Israeli security men tried to force her to board an airplane after she arrived in the country as part of the Nobel Womens' Initiative (NWI) delegation to Israel and Palestine.Maguire put up fierce resistance and stated she would fight the deportation through an Israeli court. She was supported by the captain of the airplane and he refused to allow any passengers to be forcefully boarded against their will. She was eventually deported, and warned they would not be able to enter Israel again for ten years.

Al Jazeera has a a report from the first people to be released from the prisons.

After being detained at Ben Gurion airport and placed in a bus where they were held for four hours, the bus carrying the activists finally moved and drove the group to a prison facility near Beer Sheva in the Negev desert, a two hour drive from the airport.

Submitting to their fatigue after skipping a night of sleep, the detainees disembarked the prison bus and were guided through one of the prisons narrow corridors filled with prison guards, some of whom were filming or taking pictures of the new arrivals.
Photo:Flytilla activists detained in a prison bus at Ben Gurion airport

Having been crammed into the bus for hours, many of the detainees fell asleep on the concrete floor of the cell after finally being able to lie down. Later, each person was again frisked and brought to the actual prisoners' area, where they met with a psychologist and a doctor.

The detainees were given breakfast and a bag containing slippers, clean prison outfits, soap, and toothpaste and a brush. Each one was allocated a bed bunk, four to a cell.

Later, the detainees were individually called in for a meeting with Israeli immigration officers who asked them to sign declarations in which they would promise not to go to the Palestinian territories in the future and refrain from causing trouble or taking part in protests. In some cases, the declarations were also deportation forms.

Israel tries to make Boycotts illegal

Today the Israeli Government (the Knesset) is voting on it's "boycott law" which would criminalize calls for geographically-based boycotts. The Israeli newspapers are mostly against the law writing as follows:

Haaretz comments: "Today, the Knesset was slated to approve the final reading of the Boycott Prohibition Law, which imposes severe punishments on anyone who calls, directly or indirectly, for boycotting Israel. This contemptible law blatantly violates Israel's Basic Laws. The legislators are trying to silence one of the most legitimate forms of democratic protest, and to restrict the freedom of expression and association of those who oppose the occupation and the settlers' violence and want to protest against the government's flawed order of priorities. Knesset members who vote for this law must understand that they are supporting the gagging of protest as part of an ongoing effort to liquidate democracy."

Yediot Aharonot notes that, "There are those for whom boycott means cottage cheese. For me, it reminds me of other things, much less pleasant: The scrawling of 'Jude' and the Star of David on the windows of Jewish stores in Nazi Germany; international corporations like Coca Cola and Toyota which gave in to the Arab boycott and for years avoided selling their products in Israel, and, in contrast, with boycotts by extremist rabbis of Jews they did not accept, from Spinoza to today." The paper maintains that, "A boycott is a legitimate consumer weapon - and a doubtful political one. It is the weapon of those who have despaired of convincing others of the justice of their position.

South Wales Evening Post: Pair held by Israeli police

Swansea's local newspaper reported today:

Two Swansea women who have travelled to Israel to protest against the blockade of Palestine have been held by police for questioning.Council worker Fiona Williams, from Mumbles, and book- keeper Dee Murphy, from Mount Pleasant, are part of a group of 16 people from the UK, who flew to Ben Guirion airport in Tel Aviv last week.Ms Williams said: "We intend to express solidarity with the Palestinians in the West Bank and draw attention to life under Israeli occupation."
Dee Murphy added: "We are resolved."

Scores of people have been refused permission to fly to Tel Aviv, according to the pair, following demands from Israel.In Paris, more than one hundred people have been refused permission, as well as two journalists in Amsterdam.
The Parisian campaigners claim they will be deported once they arrive in Tel Aviv.
Read more

Irish media reports about D Murphys arrest in Israel

Irish woman faces deportation from Israel
Irish Times
Dozens of comments are being made on Irish blog about D's participation:
Irish woman held in Israel over ‘flytilla’ protest
TheJournal.ie

Latest news on those expelled yesterday were 22 Belgians, 13 Germans and a man from Spain. 35 had left on a Lufthansa flight and one person on an Alitalia flight.
Israeli officials have cautioned that they are not technically deporting the activists, but, rather, repatriating them, while saying they will not be punished. However, some activists claim Israeli authorities have banned them from returning for a decade. Once we hear more, we will report here.

Western Mail: Hunger Strike threat

by Ciaran Jones, Western Mail
Four female activists from Wales detained as they entered Israel to visit the West Bank town of Bethlehem could be deported today.The women were detained as part of a so-called “flytilla” protest after they landed at the country’s Ben Gurion Airport along with eight other British nationals on Friday.

But they were last night refusing to comply with threats of deportation and one may even go on hunger strike in an attempt to break the stalemate, the Western Mail has learned.The women have been named as: Pippa Bartolotti, 57, the deputy leader of the Wales Green Party; Dee Murphy, 56, from Swansea, a founder member of Swansea Palestine Community Link; Fiona Williams, 46, from Mumbles; and Joyce Giblin from Newport.

The “flytilla” was organised in protest at a flotilla of ships being prevented by Greece from sailing to the Gaza Strip in a bid to break the Israeli blockade on the Palestinian territory.The women are among 124 activists – mostly European, though understood to include at least two American citizens – being held at Givon prison in Ramle.

Ms Williams’ partner, 47-year-old John McLean, said the Swansea council worker was being held alongside people in their 70s and 80s.“It’s pretty outrageous how [the Israeli authorities] can perceive those people as being a threat and justify it,” said Mr McLean. He added: “They are going to resist all attempts to be deported until they are forcibly removed. It’s a peaceful protest and at the moment no explanation has been given on the Israeli side as to why any of them are being held for questioning.”

The women were handcuffed and taken to a nearby prison after their easyJet flight from Luton touched down on Friday.Father of four Mr McLean said they were being held in cells of between six and eight people and had been singing protest songs.

“They are all in very good spirits and very determined,” he said.

Mother of one Ms Williams had been “extremely nervous” ahead of leaving for Israel, he added.Both Ms Williams and bookkeeper Ms Murphy are members of Swansea Action for Palestine. Group spokesman Paul O’Connor said one female Welsh traveller had managed to get through the airport and make it to the West Bank.

And frustrations at the deadlock faced by the detained travellers could lead Ms Murphy – who visited Gaza last year and has travelled to the West Bank before – to begin a hunger strike, he suggested.

He told the Western Mail: “It wouldn’t surprise me. Probably not Fiona, but I can suspect Dee – she does have very strong views on this.”

Sofiah Macleod – from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, responsible for coordinating the activists from the UK – said the British detainees were being held in cells with campaigners from France, Belgium and Germany.He said they had flown in to the country intending to take part in a week-long cultural programme.

“They have been seen by lawyers and the consul but are still being denied entry to proceed to Bethlehem. There have been no charges and we are not aware of what the charges are or what legislation they are being held under.”

Jake Griffiths, leader of the Wales Green Party, said party MP Caroline Lucas was planning to raise the issue of the group’s treatment in Parliament this week.
He added: “Obviously we are supporting the campaign Pippa has been involved in to raise the plight of the Palestinians.”

He added: “There does not appear to be any grounds for her being detained, as travelling to the West Bank is meant to be permitted for British citizens.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ordered authorities to “act with determination, while trying to avoid unnecessary friction” with anyone taking part in a provocation, a statement from his office said.

It is understood the busy holiday season is making it difficult to find flights back to the UK for the activists.A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We can confirm that a number of British nationals were detained on Friday at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.

“All the British nationals currently detained pending deportation have been visited by consular staff from the embassy in Tel Aviv and we have been in contact with families in the UK.

“We understand they will be deported in the next few days.”
Read More

Swansea women being talked about on Twitter

The Swansea women are getting Tweeted now. Latest from the radio stations in Swansea
Link to their story here

Prisoners begin Hunger strikes

The 2 Swansea women are being held in a prison in Ramle so we are unaware if they too have began a hunger strike.

However the Israeli authorities released two older German men from Bersheeva prison yesterday, but only on condition that they sign an Israeli legal document that was presented to them only in Hebrew and English, languages they do not understand. The Israeli authorities even refused to give them a copy of the paper they signed. Since their release, they have given insights into the prison conditions.

A number of Belgians being held in Bersheeva prison, began a hunger strike last night. The Belgians demand, on behalf of all the prisoners, to have contact with their families and with their attorneys. They demand an international investigation into the behavior of airline companies and Israeli officials. They also demand to be able to have contact with each other in the Israeli prison. For example, because the French and Belgian men and women are separated in the Bersheeva prison, the men do not know whether the women are also aware of the hunger strike. It is believed that the French men have joined the hunger strike. According to the Germans who were released from Bersheeva, the German men and women there are also participating in the hunger strike, but the men and women are not allowed to speak with each other.

TV report about Flytilla

The Wave Radio: Swansea women in Israeli prison

Video from protests at Israeli checkpoint

A video report of what happened when some of the international people who got through Tel Aviv airport and tried to go to Bethlehem in Palestine.Israeli soldiers responded to waving flags with tear gas and violence

Israeli soldiers prevented the bus-loads of passengers and local Palestinians and Israeli supporters from holding a peaceful demonstration. The Israeli forces shot stun grenades and at least two kinds of tear gas canisters at them. The nearby agricultural fields were set ablaze by these tear-gas canisters. The Israeli forces illegally detained — kidnapped — four peace activists, including three Israeli citizens and one Brazilian. Several participants were injured.

TV report from Israeli prison

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Some of the people imprisoned in Israel with the Swansea women

Some of the UK citizens imprisoned in Israel
D Murphy lives and works as a book-keeper in Swansea but was born and raised in Cork, Ireland. In early July she held a community auction of donated items to raise the funds to travel to Palestine. The Ambassador of Ireland Breifne O'Reilly has visited her in the Givon prison Israel. He can be contacted via +972-3-6964166 for interviews etc or via www.embassyofireland.co.il

Fiona Williams works in the Swansea council, lives in Mumbles Swansea and is a single mother.She has never been to Palestine before

Les Levidow has been opposing the Israeli Occupation through various campaign groups since the 1980s. These include: the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), Jews for Boycotting Israel Goods (J-BIG)
John Lynes, retired university lecturer in architecture.
“Between 2002 and 2009 I worked with the Christian Peacemaker Team (www.cpt.org) in the West Bank and in Northern Iraq, but had to retire due to failing health (I'm 83). I am a Quaker and a member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, Christian CND, World Development Movement, and a Life Member of the University and College Union.”
Audrey Gray is a 77 year-old from West Chiltington, a retired nurse, social worker, and current Methodist Local Preacher. She went “to stand alongside Palestinians and Israelis whose lives are severely restricted by the 43 year Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”
Audrey said “I was determined to go again, I want to make a difference in some small way. In the past 20years I have made 7 pilgrimages to the region and lived on the West Bank for 4 ½ months in 2008 and seen for myself the difficulties, conditions and constraints under which people live.” Prime Minister Netanhayu declares Israel as a democracy, I am being undemocratically held against my will.
Joy Cherkaoui has a community work background and now works for Dumfries and Galloway Council in Integrated Children’s Services. She has one grown up son, who lives in Edinburgh.
Joy has chosen to accept the invitation to visit Palestine during this week of action as she feels that “to be silent – to turn away and act as if she is unaware of the atrocities being committed by the Israeli state on a daily basis against Palestinian citizens - is to be complicit in that oppression.”

For the full list of the 12 British people click here

Life within the Israeli prison

Fiona Williams and D Murphy from Swansea are amongst the 85 people being detained in the Givon immigration detention center in Ramle.
In 2010 another Palestinian supporter and American politician Cynthia McKinney was imprisoned and she described her ordeal as prisoner number 88794. The prison is known as one of Israel's harshest - a former British police station, overcrowded, stinking, many inside with no bed, everyone confined to tiny areas, some in isolation with no sunlight.

At the time the Israeli government tried to convince McKinney to sign deportation papers, however, McKinney at least initially refused to sign, arguing that she could not be sure of what the papers stated as they were written in Hebrew.We can probably expect the same thing to happen to the Swansea women. Meanwhile today the first group of 36 Europeans have been deported on a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. Another group of activists is expected to be deported on Monday on a Geneva -bound flight.

The airlines were upset with Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon's comments made to the media to the effect that Israel's diplomatic efforts led to the airlines' cooperation in preventing the entrance of the activists.
"We are a commercial business. The fact that we prevented the activists from boarding the planes is no evidence of our supporting the State of Israel against the activists, or the opposite. Our actions are bereft of any political statement for one side or another," said the manager of a European airline in Israel.

"It's a shame that there are government officials that are exploiting this incident for political points on the backs of the airlines," he added.

Swansea women facing third night in Israeli Prison

As the 2 Swansea women face their third night in an Israeli prison, other campaigners did get past the Israeli barriers. Today Palestinians and international activists tried to force their way through an Israeli checkpoint into the Palestinian town of Bethlehem.

The Ma'an News Agency based in the Palestinian territories reported as follows
Among the protesters were activists who were passengers as part of the "flytilla" that arrived Friday at Ben Gurion International Airport.Israeli soldiers prevented protesters from accessing the area and threatening to shoot anyone who approached the checkpoint, one of the main terminals connecting the occupied West Bank with Jerusalem.

Lawmaker Mustafa Barghouthi demanded the release of the more than 100 activists still held by Israel over their involvement in the "flytilla."
"Israel has widened its circle of repression to include not only the Palestinians but [their] international supporters" as well, Barghouthi said.
Read more

Israeli TV report on Flytilla

Israel to force Palestine people to pay for their own demolition

This week, a Committee of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) passed a first draft of a law that will require that Palestinians whose homes are destroyed by Israeli forces pay the Israeli government for the demolition costs.The law will now be passed to the full Knesset for a final reading, where it is expected to pass due to the current makeup of the Knesset.

Since 1967, Israeli forces have demolished 24,813 Palestinian homes. 90% of these homes were destroyed for ‘administrative’ reasons – because they either lacked a permit or were in an area designated for expansion by the Israeli military. No permits have been issued by Israeli authorities for Palestinian construction in the Occupied Territories since 1967. The remaining 10% of the demolitions have been ‘punitive’ demolitions of the homes of Palestinians accused of attacking Israel, or of their families’ homes.
Read more here

Will the detained resist being deported?

The question now being discussed in the prisons is whether the detained campaigners will accept being deported quietly or will they refuse to co-operate with Israel?

The foreign airlines operating in Israel told Israeli newspaper Haaretz they they will have a hard time flying large groups of pro-Palestinian activists who were refused entry into the country back to their destinations of origin.

A senior official for one of the large European carriers told Haaretz on Saturday that "The airlines will have a hard time dealing all at once with large groups of pro-Palestinian activists that Israel wants to deport.
"We're talking about the peak of summer traveling season and the flights are full. We'll have to act accordingly and make different preparations, but first of all, we'll have to receive instructions from the head of the aviation authority in Israel for the deportation of the activists," he said.

"At present, we are unprepared to deal with this, in terms of human resources and in terms of amount of planes," the official added.

The airline official estimated that the massive deportation will begin on Sunday, continuing into the week, and will occur in small groups.

BBC radio report on the Swansea women

Wales on Sunday: 4 Welsh women were “handcuffed and shackled”


FOUR Welsh women were “handcuffed and shackled” before being loaded into the back of a van by Israeli security forces yesterday who arrested them as they headed for the West Bank town of Bethlehem.The women were detained as part of a so-called “flytilla” protest in Israel as they landed at the country’s Ben Gurion Airport along with eight other British nationals.

They have been named as Pippa Bartolotti, 57, the deputy leader of the Wales Green Party, Dee Murphy, 56, from Swansea, a founder member of Swansea Palestine Community Link, Fiona Williams, 46, from Mumbles, and Joyce Giblin from Newport.
Read More

Inside the prison in Israel

A report from inside the prison by an Israeli reporter
The foreign activists did not resort to any provocations in prison, maintained orderly behavior and met with consulate officials from their respective embassies.Upon their arrival in prison, the activists met with social workers, a doctor and a paramedic. In line with jail procedures, the foreigners also received toiletries, clothes and bed sheets.

In prison, the activists were separated to male and female wards and held in cells containing six to eight beds. They ate their meals in their cells and were also given some free time to roam in the prison's yard.
Meanwhile, immigration officials will be embarking on talks with foreign airlines – including Easy Jet, Swissair, Alitalia and Lufthansa - in order to expel activists back to their countries of origin.Most detainees will be expelled from Israel, officials estimated, but a few activists may eventually be allowed into Israel.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Protest marks the historic decision by Swansea Council

This 'Flytilla' protest marks the 1st anniversary of the historic decision taken by Swansea City Council last year to bar future contracts with Veolia on the grounds of its illegal activities in the West Bank.


The passing of the resolution was very important in its own right, but we have since discovered that this is the first resolution of its kind to have been passed by any UK authority, in that it makes explicit its reasons for ruling out any future contracts with Veolia. Other authorities have discontinued contracts with Veolia, but have not specified this reason. Swansea City Council is therefore leading the way with what is now seen as a landmark decision.

Veolia had contracts with the authority for local bus, park & ride to the tune of £699k per annum and home school to the tune of £238k per annum.

Swansea City Council approved the following resolution unamended on Thursday June 17th 2010: "The UN not only does not recognise Israel’s annexation and occupation of East Jerusalem, but has repeatedly stated its view that the Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank contravene international law, and it has demanded that Israeli settlement activities and occupation should not be supported. The international trading company, Veolia, is a leading partner in a consortium seeking to build a light railway system linking Israel to illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, a project that clearly not only contravenes UN demands but is in contravention of international law.

Facebook used by Israel to detain people

USA Today gave an insight into how Israel chose which people to arrest and deport.
The newspaper wrote
'Israeli authorities, using information gathered on Facebook, Twitter and other websites, compiled a blacklist with more than 300 names and asked foreign airlines to block those on the list from boarding Tel Aviv-bound flights.'

In New York Times Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said that the Israeli authorities had followed the activists’ plans and compiled the list of undesirables by tracking the Web sites and social networking of the organizations involved.
“We did not need the Mossad,” Mr. Palmor said, referring to Israel’s intelligence agency. “It was all out there in the open.”

Foreign and Commonwealth Office responds about Fiona

We have just received word from Gail Johnson the Duty Officer at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She said


Fiona Williams was arrested yesterday upon arrival at Tel Aviv airport. She has been transferred to Prison Givon in Ramle where my colleagues from the Embassy visited her today. Fiona is fine and well and it is likely that she will be deported in the next day or two.

Western Mail: Welsh campaigners detained


Full article below:
Three people from Wales are among a group which has been detained in Israel while making an attempt to visit the West Bank town of Bethlehem, according to campaigners.
Pippa Bartolotti, 57, deputy leader of the Wales Green Party; Dee Murphy, 56, from Swansea, founder member of Swansea Palestine Community Link; and Joyce Giblin, were part of a group of 12 people from the UK who were arrested at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport.

The flight also included five English and four Scots, the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which was co-ordinating the British arm of the visit, said.

The campaign said the specific charges against them is still unclear.
Around 700 people from around the world had intended to visit Bethlehem on the invitation of families there.

Sofiah Macleod, the UK-based contact for the campaign, said: “I spoke to consular staff this morning who told me that the arrest was quite rough.
“They were all handcuffed and shackled and put into vans after standing around for quite a long time, and you can see from their ages that a lot of them are retired.
“Otherwise they‘re all fine.”

She said that travel to the West Bank is theoretically open to British passport holders, unlike Gaza which is currently under Israeli blockade.
“This was never about demonstrations at airports. We are on a fact-finding mission. We want to understand what’s going on,” said Pippa Bartolotti.

She said she was the only member of a 40-member group on a flight from Britain who managed to enter Israel. “Unfortunately everybody else is in a holding bay and expected to be deported,” she said. “There are people from Belgium, France and the U.K.”

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We have received reports of a number of British nationals being detained at the airport in Tel Aviv.
“We have a consular team at the airport who are seeking access to them to ensure that we can provide the appropriate assistance.”
Read More

Latest report about the arrests

Press Association report

Twelve British people have been detained in Israel while making an attempt to visit the West Bank town of Bethlehem, according to campaigners.The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which was co-ordinating the British arm of the visit, said its chairman Mick Napier, 64, a university teacher, was amongst four Scots arrested at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport.

The flight also included five English and three Welsh people.The campaign said the specific charges against them is still unclear. Sofiah Macleod, the UK-based contact for the campaign, said:
"I spoke to consular staff this morning who told me that the arrest was quite rough. They were all handcuffed and shackled and put into vans after standing around for quite a long time, and you can see from their ages that a lot of them are retired. Otherwise they`re all fine."

She said that travel to the West Bank is theoretically open to British passport holders, unlike Gaza which is currently under Israeli blockade.

Frank Thomas, 66, a retired statistician from Edinburgh; Ian Stewart-Hargreaves, who lives on Isle of Lewis; and Joy Cherkaoui, a community worker from Dumfries and Galloway, were also amongst the Scots.

The English passengers were John Lynes, 83, a retired university lecturer from East Sussex; Audrey Gray, 77, a retired nurse from West Chiltington; Val Kitchen, 68, from Tonbridge; Anne Gray, 66, a retired academic from London; and Les Levidow, 61, an Open University research fellow who works in Milton Keynes.

The three Welsh passengers were Pippa Bartolotti, 57, deputy leader of the Wales Green Party; D Murphy, 56, from Swansea, founder member of Swansea Palestine Community Link; and Joyce Giblin. The twelfth passenger Fiona Williams has also been identified as British, although her exact nationality is unknown. (Note: We now all know that Fiona is from Swansea)

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We have received reports of a number of British nationals being detained at the airport in Tel Aviv. We have a consular team at the airport who are seeking access to them to ensure that we can provide the appropriate assistance."

BBC report about the Swansea women

Read the full story online here

Full BBC story below
Four Welsh Palestine activists 'detained' in Israel
Four protesters from Wales are among a dozen UK activists detained as part of a so-called "flytilla" protest in Israel, according to organisers.
Fiona Williams, 46, from Mumbles, flew from Luton on Friday with a fellow member of the Swansea Palestine group.
Ms Williams' partner John McLean said the women were detained on leaving the flight at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel.
News agencies report that Israel is set to expel 124 activists, mostly European, who were part of the protest.
The "flytilla" - in which protesters say they were planning to make a peaceful visit to families in the West Bank - was taking place as a flotilla of ships was prevented by Greece from sailing to the Gaza Strip in a bid to break the Israeli blockade on the Palestinian territory.
Mr McLean said this was the first time that Ms Williams, who works for Swansea council, had taken part in such a protest, but added she was a determined supporter of the Palestinian cause.
"Fiona has never been there before so we were all quite surprised she was picked out," he said.

"At 11 o'clock last night we got this news, and they were probably being detained for the weekend and deported at the earliest opportunity.
"They refused to be deported, that's their stance at the moment, because there's no grounds for it."
Mr McLean said Ms Williams had travelled with a fellow member of the Swansea group, who was originally from Ireland, and he had been getting updates from the Irish Embassy.
He said he had not spoken to her directly but understood she was fine.
Paul O'Connor, of the Swansea Palestine group, said he had spoken to the Swansea women on Friday and they were in good spirits.
Ben Gurion Airport Some Israeli protesters gathered to welcome the activists who had flown into Ben Gurion Airport

"The latest we have heard from the [Irish] embassy is that they're being held at the airport," he said."There's about 30-odd others with them.
"They're going to be held and deported on Sunday night and Monday."

Palestinian civil society organisations who make up Welcome to Palestine expected 600 to 1,000 foreign activists to take up their invitation to head to the West Bank for a week.
They say they have planned a full itinerary of peaceful activities, starting with events in Bethlehem and Ramallah on Saturday for those able to make it there.
Palestinians have no airport of their own and Israel controls the borders of the occupied West Bank.
Israeli officials said on Friday airlines blocked some 200 blacklisted travellers from flying to Tel Aviv.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ordered authorities to "act with determination, while trying to avoid unnecessary friction" with anyone taking part in a provocation, a statement from his office said.
The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which is coordinating the British part of the protest, said there 12 detainees from the UK.
'Watching developments'

These included three others from Wales, who it named as Ms Williams's Swansea colleague Dee Murphy, 56, founder member of Swansea Palestine Community Link; Pippa Bartolotti, 57, deputy leader of the Wales Green Party, and Joyce Giblin, from Newport.A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We have received reports of a number of British nationals being detained today at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.

"We have a consular team at the airport and are seeking consular access to them to ensure that we can provide appropriate assistance."
The spokeswoman said travel advice had been updated and it continued to make clear that travellers to Israel should ensure they are aware of relevant immigration requirements.

"We are watching developments closely," she added.
"We have put in place contingency plans and will deploy consular staff as required to ensure that we can provide appropriate support to British nationals."