A peace activist from New Zealand was deported from Israel after spending four days in jail there.
Harmeet Sooden, 33, said Israeli officials told him he presented a security risk. Sooden, an Auckland University student who was held captive in Iraq for four months last year, was planning to volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement, a group of pro-Palestinian activists. â€œThey never disclosed the official reason for denying me,â€ Sooden told the ISM Web site. â€œThe Ministry of Interior official told me that I was a â€˜threat to the security of the State of Israel.â€™ â€ The ISM claims Sooden was deported because he had previously been active in Nablus and Jenin. â€œI am still reeling from this experience,â€ he said. â€œIt dredged up some old feelings. I told them honestly that I had come to revisit Yad Vashem, visit historic sites and volunteer for ISM.â€
The Israeli Embassy in Canberra, which covers Australia and New Zealand, declined to comment on the case. Sooden was taken into custody upon his June 14 arrival in Israel. The ISM alleges he was allowed only one phone call and could not speak to a lawyer or his embassy. The group also claims that Israeli security personnel assaulted Sooden.
He arrived home in New Zealand on Friday afternoon, where he was greeted by Green Party lawmaker Keith Locke, who slammed Israel for â€œthis high-handed action against a dedicated peace activist.”
“Israel is a democratic sovereign nation duty bound to do what it thinks fit to protect its security,” countered Stephen Goodman, president of the New Zealand Jewish Council.
Tom Fox, one of Soodenâ€™s comrades in captivity in Iraq, was murdered there.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.