Israel deports Nobel laureate


NOBEL PRIZE laureate Mairead Maguire and electrician Derek Graham are set to arrive in Dublin today on board a flight of Israel’s domestic airline Arkia. They were moved yesterday from Giv-On prison near Tel Aviv to holding cells at Ben Gurion airport as six Britons and three US citizens, including former five-term congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, were deported on flights to New York.

The activists rejected their deportation orders, arguing that they had been taken to Israel against their will when seized on a Gaza-bound ferry a week ago.

Ms Maguire received her luggage containing thyroid and cholesterol medication when they arrived at the airport. Mr Graham, first mate on the boat, did not receive his bags. There was no direct contact with either of them because mobile phones, their only means of communication, belong to the Britons.

Departing detainees were given their belongings before they embarked on their flights.

Spokeswoman Greta Berlin said that the Free Gaza Movement, which sponsored the mission to the Strip, has been told that a Jordanian journalist from al-Jazeera pan-Arab satellite channel, had been deported to Jordan and that his Yemeni colleague is set to be flown to Qatar today. The fate of Adam Qvist, a Danish citizen, however, remains unclear. His embassy in Tel Aviv did not take up his case until yesterday.

The deportees had been on a Greek-registered ferry, Spirit of Humanity, en route to the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip when the vessel was boarded by Israeli commandos, commandeered, and taken to Ashdod port. The 21 passengers and crew were arrested and imprisoned, charged with entering Israel illegally, and the cargo – consisting of three tonnes of medical supplies, toys, crayons and a symbolic bag of cement – was confiscated.

Ms Maguire, who won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to reconcile Catholics and Protestants in Belfast, has been involved in Palestinian advocacy for several years.