Swedish activist Benjamin Ladraa has been barred from entering Israel after 11 months of his #WalkToPalestine campaign.
Ladraa approached the Jordan-Israel border yesterday with several other activists who had planned to walk the last 5,000 kilometres with him in solidarity.
Upon arriving at the border, Ladraa found himself detained and interrogated for six hours, before being denied entry. Border guards accused him of lying during the interrogation and alleged he would go to the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh and organise a protest.
“On this day it has been eleven months of walking and speaking about the human rights violations under the occupation. Now ask yourself why the Israeli state fears one Swedish man so much that they didn’t allow him to enter the country they are occupying. This is the power of activism,” Ladraa said.
Ladraa has spent his time in Jordan visiting Palestinian refugee camps as he had done in Lebanon. Earlier this week he visited the Irbid refugee camp and met with Palestinians who had been forced out of their homes in 1948. He also visited a local hospital where Gazans, injured in the latest protest were being treated.
“Meeting these people that have faced the soldiers in order to protest for their rights, knowing that the soldiers are shooting and killing children, women, journalists, medics and anyone else that happen to be present was an experience I can’t describe in words,” Ladraa said.
“These people are the real heroes. We need to stand with them and show as much solidarity as possible. We cannot afford to be passive in the face of the massive violence by the illegal occupation.”
Ladraa’s aim has been to raise awareness about the Palestinian cause and has been giving numerous public speeches and media appearances to global and local news channels. He has tried to meet as many people as possible along his way, and uploaded his journey updates on social media, having garnered nearly 20,000 followers in less than a year.
The Swedish musician chose to make the journey to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration that provided international legitimacy for the Zionist project that led to the subsequent creation of the state of Israel and the displacement of nearly one million Palestinians in 1948.