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Israel deports Italian activist detained during raid at home of jailed Palestinian journalist

January 18, 2023 at 10:43 am

Israeli forces take a Palestinian into custody in West Bank, on May 12, 2022, in East Jerusalem [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli authorities have deported an Italian activist after arresting her during a raid on the home of an imprisoned Palestinian journalist in the Dheisheh refugee camp in the Bethlehem area of the occupied West Bank.

Stefania Constantin, 52, was arrested during a pre-dawn raid Monday.

Israel’s internal security service, Shin Bet, explained that: “Constantin entered Israel on 2 May, 2022 on a tourist visa and spent most of her time in the Palestinian Authority territories. She exceeded the permitted entry visa period and was deported from the country.”

The interior ministry confirmed that it had deported the Italian activist on Monday afternoon, after she had been interrogated by Shin Bet. It is alleged that she was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and that she was summoned for questioning last September. She did not respond to the summons, apparently, and “continued” her activities with the organisation.

“Because of these matters, she was arrested on 16 January for interrogation,” said Shin Bet. “At the end of the investigation, she was transferred to the interior ministry, which decided to deport her from Israel.”

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According to Constantin, she was beaten and “thrown on the ground” during her arrest by about 20 soldiers in the house where she was staying. Speaking in Pisa, she told AFP, “I tried to resist and they beat me a lot.”

The Italian Consulate in Jerusalem did not comment on the deportation, noting that it happened on the same day that Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani spoke by phone with his Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen. Neither of them mentioned the Constantin case.

Israel has been intensifying its military incursions in the occupied West Bank for weeks. Since the beginning of this year alone, 15 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli armed forces, including four children.