Blog post by Senator Lee Rhiannon
UPDATE: Since writing this post, Sylvia and Vivienne won their appeal against their deportation in an Israeli court.
Sylvia Hale flew into Tel Aviv on Tuesday of this week – her birthday - to visit friends in Palestine and to support Palestinian human rights. She was detained at the airport along with her friend Vivienne Porzsolt and the birthday celebrations are on hold.
Click here for details of the action you can take to help get Sylvia and Vivienne released.
Sylvia and Vivienne have complained to the authorities from the Israeli Interior Ministry about their treatment. I have just got off the phone to Sylvia’s daughter who spoke to her mother today. Sylvia and Vivienne are in good spirits. They are concerned at how they are being treated by the Israeli authorities, who have threatened to handcuff them.
Their lawyer obtained a stay on the deportation order and they are waiting to appear before the local district court.
Sylvia, a former Greens MP in the NSW Upper House and former Marrickville councillor, had planned to visit Dr Mazin Qumsiyeh in Bethlehem, a sister city of Marrickville where Sylvia lives. Vivienne is a member of Jews Against the Occupation.
If the case drags on we understand that Sylvia and Vivienne could be moved to a detention centre somewhere in Israel.
These two courageous women have committed no crime. They told the Israeli authorities the purpose of their visit.
Their detention has drawn attention to the Israel government’s policy of denying the human rights of Palestinians to receive visitors from abroad. Once again the Israeli government’s own actions undermine their claims to be a democracy.
Prior to flying into Tel Aviv Sylvia had been part of “the Second Freedom Flotilla". Sylvia was on MV Tahrir, one of ten ships, whose aim was to sail to Gaza and break the Israeli blockade. The Greek government refused to allow any of the ships to leave Crete. Many of the flotilla participants then decided to fly to Israel.
Sylvia in one her recent emails sent me a link to the United Nations recent statement on the Gaza Strip. The findings of the UN Office for the Coordination of humanitarian Affairs Occupied Palestinian Territory exposes the Israeli government’s claims that they had reduced the impact of blockade of Gaza. 75 per cent of the locals remain aid dependent, 38 per cent live in poverty and the economic output of Gaza is 20 per cent lower than what it was in 2005.
The UN document statement that “the Gaza blockade is a denial of basic human rights in contravention of international law and amounts to collective punishment” sums up why Vivienne and Sylvia and hundreds of others have just spent the past few weeks taking part in this international action for Palestinian human rights.
Many of us are looking forward to giving Sylvia a belated birthday celebration on her return and a big welcome home to her and Vivienne.
ABC coverage of Israel’s detention of Sylvia and Vivienne.
BBC coverage of the deportation by Israel of two British campaigners for Palestinian human rights.