Saturday, 9 July 2011
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.”