A Cork woman has pledged to go on symbolic hunger strike if she is detained in Israel as part of a global initiative supporting the right to openly visit Palestine. Dee Murphy, originally from South Douglas Road, but based in Swansea, will fly out from a British airport to Tel Aviv this Sunday as part of the Welcome to Palestine 2012 ‘flytilla’, named after the seafaring Gaza Freedom Flotilla in 2010. The event, which will include up to 2,000 people from across the globe, will highlight Israel’s control of access to the West Bank.
Ms Murphy told The Cork News that she does not believe she will get the opportunity to visit the area, in particular Bethlehem and Ramalah. She outlined that blockades are being enforced to prevent campaigners from landing, with Israel’s public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch already stating that names have been forwarded to international airports in the hope that they will be prevented from boarding flights.
A sizable police presence at the Ben Gurion International Airport will also arrest activists as they arrive, with pro-Palestinian campaigners held at airport detention facilities until flights become available to take them home. Ms Murphy, who was detained last year, outlined that campaigners have “committed a week” to the event, although there is widespread belief that a majority will be detained. “They are sending agents to airports and asking to see passenger lists, so they can stop people before they board the plane. For those of us who travelled last year, that is a big concern.
“If we are allowed to board and are detained at Tel Aviv, then on Tuesday April 17th it is Palestine Prisoners Day, with prisoners set to refuse food. We will also be making a symbolic gesture by refusing food on that day, until we are released,” she said.
One of the founding members of the Swansea Palestine organisation, Ms Murphy outlined that the 2,000 strong contingent would not lie in order to enter into Palestine. “Last year we felt that we shouldn’t have to lie to visit our friends. However, as soon as we said openly that we were going to Bethlehem, we were taken to one side and most of us were detained for six nights,” she stated.
She added that the group were not “trouble-makers” or “hooligans”, and would consist of a large number of people travelling with their families. Ms Murphy, who has travelled to the West Bank twice and Gaza once, explained that she would be visiting Bethlehem to “lay foundations for a kindergarten”. “There is a huge array of people involved and we are all just asking why should Palestine be punished,” she said.
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