N.Ireland Nobel laureate fights to stay in Israel

29th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Northern Ireland Nobel laureate and peace activist Mairead Maguire was on Wednesday fighting a legal battle over the right to enter Israel after her involvement with an aid boat to Gaza, her lawyer said.

Maguire flew to Israel on Tuesday but was refused entry at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv.

Officials said she was not allowed in because of her deportation in June after she tried to reach Gaza by boat in defiance of an Israeli naval blockade.

At the airport, Maguire was told she would not be allowed in to Israel for 10 years.

Lawyers for the Adalah legal rights group obtained an injunction preventing her deportation early on Wednesday and were due to attend a hearing at Petah Tikva court near Tel Aviv to debate her case.

"She spent the night in the detention centre at the airport and will now attend the hearing," Adalah lawyer Fatmeh al-Ajou told AFP.

Maguire was one of 19 activists on board the Rachel Corrie which tried and failed to reach Gaza in early June, a week after Israeli forces mounted a botched raid on a six-ship flotilla heading for the coastal enclave that left nine Turkish activists dead.

The 66-year-old planned on her latest visit to lead a delegation of women on a week-long tour of Israel and the Palestinian territories to highlight the work of women peace activists.

Her arrival in Israel came as Israeli naval forces intercepted another aid boat carrying seven Jewish activists and two journalists trying to reach the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip which has been languishing under an Israeli naval blockade since 2006.

Three of the four international activists were deported on Tuesday while a fourth, a German national, was in custody after refusing to be deported, organisers said Wednesday.

Edith Lutz had initially refused deportation until the five Israeli passengers on the boat were released from custody -- which happened late on Tuesday.

She was being held at a detention centre in Ramle near Tel Aviv and would stay there until Sunday, when she will be deported after a hearing, a spokeswoman for the activists said.

© 2010 AFP

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