Two Newport women arrested in Israel, say campaigners

First published in News

TWO Newport women are among a group of UK activists who have been detained in Israel, a campaigning group said tonight.

Pippa Bartolotti, deputy leader of the Green Party in Wales, 57, and Joyce Giblin, who are both from Malpas, were two of 12 British people who were arrested after they arrived in Israel's Ben Gurion Airport yesterday according to the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

They are currently being held in a facility just outside Tel Aviv, Sofiah MacLeod of the SPSC said.

She said they are unaware of the charges against them, but did know that Israel intended to deport the activists.

Both had been travelling from London to go to Bethlehem in the West Bank - part of the Palestinian territories.

Ms Macleod said Ms Giblin was arrested with the rest of the group before going through passport control - but Ms Bartolotti had managed to get through.

"She did tell them she was going to Bethlehem," she said. "But whilst she was waiting on the other side she spoke to some press and the Israeli police proceeded to arrest her."

The SPSC has organised the UK part of what has become known as the "flytilla" - an effort to send around 600 people to Bethlehem but which has resulted in many being reportedly detained or even stopped from travelling altogether.

Russian TV news channel RT reported that Ms Bartolotti was the only activist they could see that had managed to get through the airport's passport control.

In an interview with the channel, posted to a video sharing website, Ms Bartolotti said: "There's 40 to 50 people waiting to be deported, likely to be deported, and there's me."

A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office could not say last night whether Ms Bartolotti and Ms Giblin were arrested but confirmed that a number of British nationals have been detained in Israel.

"Our staff have visited all the British nationals detained in Israel pending deportation and they haven't raised any major concerns with us," she said.

She said messages have been passed on back to the UK as requested and that deportations are expected to take place in the next day or two.

In the mean time consular assistance is being provided, the spokeswoman added.

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