South African human rights activist, Itani Rasalanavho, was detained and ‘humiliated’ by Israeli authorities at Ben Gurion airport. He was strip searched before deported from the country.
Rasalanavho said he was pulled out of a queue upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv last Friday.
“I was interrogated about the purpose of my visit. I told them I was here for church human rights work, but instead I was detained and strip-searched,” he told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.
— adri nieuwhof (@steketeh) May 13, 2016
According to Rasalanavho, he was travelling to Palestine to join the Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT), an organization engaged in worldwide human rights work, including in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
“I was detained for three hours at the airport before being taken to a detention facility where I spent a whole day,” he said.
The activist says after confiscating his passport, Israeli officials escorted him to the airport the next day where he was flown to Ethiopia and later back to South Africa.
“I was seriously humiliated by their actions,” he said.
— Charafa (@freeworldun) May 14, 2016
Rasalanavho is among numerous South African activists who have been deported from or denied entry into Palestine by Israeli authorities. South African Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, was also denied entry to Palestine by Israel in 2015 despite travelling on official government business.
Israeli Ambassador to South Africa, Arthur Lenk, claimed not to know the details of the case in question.
Lenk said in a private Twitter conversation that, “Every country, South Africa and Turkey included, doesn’t let in all foreigners for a wide variety of reasons. Would SA or Turkey allow an ‘activist’ that wants to enter to verbally (or otherwise) attack it?”
Rasalanavho says while he is relieved to be home safe, his resolve to assist the Palestinian people is stronger than ever.
(MEMO, VOICE OF THE CAPE, PC)