ISRAEL: Ploughshares activist to be deported

Issue 

Kim Bullimore, Israel

Angie Zelter, a well-known non-violent peace and human rights activist from Britain, is currently being held by the Israeli authorities in a cell at Ben Gurion airport, Israel.

Zelter, a founding member of the Trident Ploughshares and the International Women's Peace Service, arrived at Ben Gurion airport on October 24. Zelter was detained and interrogated by Israeli authorities for over 12 hours, before being denied entry to the country. She was detained as a "security risk", placed in a holding cell at the airport police station and told that she would be held for even days before being put on a flight back to Britain.

Zelter is a long-time peace and justice activist and is a veteran of the women's peace camp at Greenham Common against nuclear missiles and militarism.

In 1996, Zelter, along with three other women, disarmed a British Aerospace Hawk fighter jet destined for sale to Indonesia for use against the civilian population of East Timor. Zelter and the other three were acquitted of all charges.

In 2001, the Right Livelihood award, also known as the "alternative Nobel Prize", was awarded to Zelter and the Trident Ploughshares, along with Israeli peace activists and founders of Gush Shalom, Uri and Rachel Avnery. Other prominent recipients of the award include Israeli peace activists Felicia Langer and Mordechai Vanunu, as well as other human rights activists such as Walden Bello, Ken Saro-Wiwa and Vandana Shiva.

According to Zelter, she has been detained because of her participation in non-violent peaceful direct action in support of Palestinians at the West Bank village of Biddu in April 2004. Zelter was arrested, along with other women, when border police on horseback and Israeli Defense Forces open fire with teargas and sound grenades on the peaceful all-women action against the Apartheid Wall.

Zelter has previously been denied entry to Israel in 2003, with the Israeli government declaring her person non gratia. Zelter fought the denial of entry in the Israeli Courts, but lost the case and was forcibly removed from the country on New Year's Day.

The reason given by the Israeli authorities for denying her entry in 2003 and in 2004 is her peace activities on behalf of the Palestinian people. On both occasion, the Israeli authorities deemed Zelter to be a "security risk".

From Green Left Weekly, November 3, 2004.
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