US Activist Kit Kittredge Deported From Israel; Statuses of Many Activists, Members of Press Remain Unknown
Just Foreign Policy has received confirmation that activist Kit Kittredge, the US delegate to the Freedom Waves flotilla, is presently on a plane back to New York after being detained for 72 hours in the Israeli jail of Givon. The other US citizen that was detained, Democracy Now! correspondent Jihan Hafiz, was deported last night to New York.
On Friday, the IDF commandeered the two vessels that comprised the flotilla and forcibly brought its passengers to the Israeli port of Ashdod, where Kittredge and Hafiz received very little in the way of aid or useful information from the US embassy, according to Hafiz. While other embassy's officials, such as the Irish ambassador, visited their nationals three times, a representative from the US embassy came only twice to visit Hafiz and Kittredge, both times late in the day. As recounted by Hafiz, the representative claimed that the US embassy was "powerless" in a foreign country, that the Israelis were "giving them the run-around," and that the prisoners requests for free association and reading and writing materials, standard for political prisoners, was "too much" to ask for. The most advice the US embassy could supply was to sign a deportation agreement that admitted that Kittredge and Hafiz had entered Israel illegally and that they wouldn't attempt to break the blockade of Gaza again. Both refused to sign this document and were released only after the time limit on detention was reached.
The deportation statuses of many of the activists from the Canadian and Irish boats remain unknown. Meanwhile, the location and status of British national and Press TV correspondent Hassan Ghani is unknown. Givon prison authorities claim that he is not at the prison, but flotilla organizers know that he has not been released. Israeli officials refuse to say what prison Ghani is being held at. Hafiz said that Israeli authorities were referring to Ghani as "the Iranian" during processing because of his association with Press TV, an Iranian media outlet. This fact makes Ghani's disappearance all the more disturbing.