Is­rael is de­port­ing more SA Chris­tians

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - ANA

AN IN­CREAS­ING num­ber of South African Chris­tians are be­ing de­ported from Is­rael for be­ing crit­i­cal of the Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion of Pales­tine.

This hap­pens as a South African Coun­cil of Churches (SACC) del­e­ga­tion, which has just re­turned from Is­rael and Pales­tine, strongly crit­i­cised the oc­cu­pa­tion.

Over the past decade, about 20 South African po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists and vol­un­teers from var­i­ous re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tions have been re­fused en­try to Is­rael, searched and held in de­ten­tion for hours be­fore be­ing de­ported – with lit­tle to no as­sis­tance from the South African em­bassy in Tel Aviv.

Those de­ported have in­cluded in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned fig­ures in­clud­ing Des­mond Tutu and former judge Richard Gold­stone, head of the UN fact-find­ing mission, who was in­ves­ti­gat­ing vi­o­la­tions of in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights law in the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries in con­nec­tion with the Gaza war (Op­er­a­tion Cast Lead 2008-2009).

Gadija Davids, a jour­nal­ist with Ra­dio 786, who was cov­er­ing the 2010 Free­dom Flotilla that was at­tempt­ing to break the Is­raeli siege on the Gaza Strip, was held in an Is­raeli prison, as­saulted, in­ter­ro­gated, and de­nied con­sular ac­cess and legal representation.

Over the past few months an in­creas­ing num­ber of Chris­tian vol­un­teers with the Ec­u­meni­cal Ac­com­pa­ni­ment Pro­gramme in Is­rael and Pales­tine (EAPPI) have been de­nied en­try into Is­rael, in­clud­ing Siph­e­sihle Dlung­wane, who re­cently ar­rived back in South Africa af­ter be­ing de­ported.

Mean­while, the SACC del­e­ga­tion, which re­turned last week from a visit to Is­rael and Pales­tine, re­leased a par­tic­u­larly harsh state­ment, slam­ming the Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion and ac­cus­ing Is­rael of be­ing an apartheid state.

“Based on the in­for­ma­tion be­fore us, it is clear that Is­rael is struc­tured in a way that fits and even sur­passes the de­scrip­tion of an apartheid state, which robs Pales­tini­ans of their cit­i­zen­ship and treats them in a dis­crim­i­na­tory way,” said the SACC, a com­ment en­dorsed by an SACC con­fer­ence.

“With our ex­pe­ri­ence of apartheid that the whole world recog­nised and con­demned as a crime against hu­man­ity, we see the treat­ment of the Pales­tini­ans by Is­rael as worse than apartheid,” said the SACC in a state­ment.

“We are con­cerned that the world that con­demned apartheid has closed its eyes to the pain and suf­fer­ing of Pales­tini­ans in the oc­cu­pied ar­eas.”

The del­e­ga­tion of nine church lead­ers, led by SACC pres­i­dent Bishop Zipho Siwa, vis­ited Tel Aviv and Nazareth in Is­rael, as well as He­bron and Beth­le­hem in Pales­tine.

“We de­cry the fact that the Pales­tini­ans have been oc­cu­pied for 50 years with­out any sign of an end to this oc­cu­pa­tion,” said the SACC. “We strongly con­demn this il­le­gal and un­just oc­cu­pa­tion.”

In­tol­er­ance over se­vere crit­i­cism of Pales­tinian oc­cu­pa­tion

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