UPDATE: Since the afternoon on July 14th, Maria Nikiforou has been held in isolation at the airport security dentention center. Despite the fact that detainees are allowed to keep their phones in this facility, she is not allowed to charge her phone. The state is expected to respond to her appeal tomorrow.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Greek human rights activist, Maria Nikiforou, was denied entry into Israel early this morning, July 14th. She was put in detention and was facing forced expulsion from the country. Her lawyers, Leah Tsmel and Yoni Lerman, have filed an appeal against this expulsion and the judge has agreed to hear this appeal. Maria must remain in detention until her court hearing of the appeal, but will not be forced from the country as the Israeli security originally planned.
The Israeli authorities claimed that she is denied entry becasue she is a “security threat to the state of Israel” and that she is a part of the International Solidarity Movement which they called an “illegal organization”. In fact, the Israeli courts have ruled that being a member of ISM is not reason enough to deport foreign nationals, and the group has never been made illegal. ISM is a Palestinian-led non-violent resistance movement that works to support local Palestinians in their non-violent struggle against the occupation.
The state of Israel has publicized its intentions to increase the denial of entry to people including Palestinians with foreign passports and forgein human rights workers to the West Bank. The fear is that the complete closure and isolation of Gaza will be replicated in the West Bank.
Ms. Nikiforou is a 33 year old school teacher and member of the Greek Orthodox church. She has many Palestinian and Israeli friends that she had planned to meet with on her visit. She has been to Israel and Palestine in the past to do human rights work.
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