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15 March 2017

I, Mpho Masemola, was yesterday (Tuesday 14 March) denied entry to Palestine by the Israeli Apartheid regime. As a former anti-apartheid political prisoner and the National Secretary of South Africa’s Ex-Political Prisoners Association (EPPA) this was a huge insult.

 I was en-route to Ramallah for a conference on the plight of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons. Israel, which controls all borders and entry into Palestine, detained and interrogated me for over 10 hours, without food and medication. There were 6 Israeli officers present during which time I was man-handled and sworn at. The Israelis were disgusting, they even used the K word against me when I resisted interrogation. I just started singing revolutionary songs and chanting ‘Viva Mandela Viva, Viva Marwan Barghouti Viva’. I witnessed one of the worst racist attitudes, the kind of behaviour I was
subjected to must have been the same that Jews in the Nazi camps in Germany were probably subjected to – in my opinion, Israel is a Nazi state.

Israel is a racist state, Israel is fascist state, Israel is still using racial segregation against people of color. What is disgusting about Israel is that they don’t like Nelson Mandela, they told me very straight. I showed the Israeli security officials an artefact of Nelson Mandela and they said to me straight in the eye, ‘Nelson Mandela is not allowed in Israel’.

Two weeks ago, Israel approved a law automatically denying entry to people who knowingly and publicly support boycotts against Israel. On Sunday, for example, Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority and the Strategic Affairs Ministry denied entry to a prominent British BDS activist, Hugh Lanning. On Sunday night Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, Gilad Erdan, said: “Whoever acts against Israel should understand that the rules of the game have changed.” Israel’s Interior Minister Arye Deri said: “The decision we made tonight is an unequivocal statement against boycott activists.”

The number of South Africans detained, deported and denied entry into Palestine by the Israeli regime. Last year, a young South African woman who was traveling as part of a World Council of Churches (WCC) programme was also denied entry and deported back to South Africa by the Israeli regime when she was en route to Bethlehem in occupied Palestine. Others, majority of whom are church members, activists and Africans, who have been denied entry to Palestine by Israeli authorities in the last two years include: Itani Rasanahlavho, Daniel Kemp, Khulekani Magwaza, Rosalia Mpele , Sarah Robinson, Marthie Momberg. In the past Israel has also denied Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Higher Education Minister Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister Thulas Nxesi and various other high profile South Africans entry into Palestine.

There are more than 300 children currently imprisoned in Israeli jails including close to 20 who are being held under Israel’s notorious “administrative detention” (the equivalent of Apartheid SA’s “detention without trial”). Most Palestinian children are arrested for throwing stones and are sentenced to between 12 and 28 months of imprisonment with the youngest Palestinian child prisoner being 13 years old. Israeli institutions have announced deliberations in the Israeli legislature concerning the imposition of life sentences on Palestinian children under the age of 14 years.

National Secretary of South Africa’s Ex-Political Prisoners Association (EPPA)