Israeli-American activist arrested for entering Gaza Strip

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Jeff Halper in May.

An Israeli-American was arrested on Tuesday and later released in Gaza City after arriving on a boat that was carrying pro-Palestinian activists. Professor Jeff Halper was going to Israel along with 40 other activists including the sister-in-law of Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Lauren Booth, when he was arrested at a border crossing checkpoint.

According to police, Halper was arrested on his way home, re-entering Israel at the Erez border checkpoint. He is said to have been in violation of a law which forbids Israelis from traveling to Gaza due to a blockade enacted in 2007 when Hamas won elections and took control of the Gaza Strip.

"He [was] questioned at the police station in Sderot for entering the Gaza Strip in defiance of a military decree banning Israeli citizens from doing so," stated Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the Israeli Police. Halper was later "conditionally" released, and police will decide if he should be rearrested and prosecuted further at the end of their investigation.

Authorities said they gave Halper and the rest of the activists a "one-time" pass to enter Gaza to avoid provoking them. He had been in Gaza for at least three days before being arrested.

Halper and Booth both belong to an activist group of international participants who were attempting to challenge the blockade and enter Israel, and police say their defiance "constitutes the legitimization of a terrorist organization."

Halper currently resides in Jerusalem.