Italian activist deported by Israel after West Bank raid arrest
Israeli authorities said on Tuesday said that they deported an activist from Italy to her country after detaining her during a raid in the occupied West Bank on the grounds that she was associated with a Palestinian militant organisation.
Stefania Costantini was taken into custody by Israeli soldiers on Monday during an early-morning raid into the Dheisha refugee camp in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.
A soldier from Israel is shown in social media video lifting up Costantini and tossing her over his shoulders while she cries. Videos appear to show her being dragged by a group of troops out of the camp and crammed into a military vehicle. During the same raid, Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails, killing a 14-year-old child in the process.
Costantini was characterised as a supporter of Palestinian rights by the Italian media. Costantini was detained, according to Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence organisation, on suspicion of being a member of and transferring money to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the militant organisation known as the PFLP participated in passenger plane hijackings. In the early 2000s, the Second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, was when the group later claimed responsibility for suicide bombings. The European Union and the United States both classify it as a terrorist group.
According to the Shin Bet, Costantini entered Israel on May 2 of last year on a tourist visa and was called in for questioning in September on her alleged affiliation with the PFLP. According to the security agency, Costantini “even continued her activities” for the militant group without reporting to the authorities. She was deported by Israel on Monday afternoon, according to the Interior Ministry.
Costantini’s left-leaning trade union, COBAS, in Pisa, Italy, voiced “consternation” over the news of her detention and deportation. The union expressed concern about the “health and safety” of Costantini.
According to the group, Costantini is an expert who works with pupils who have disabilities and has a history of fighting for “people whose rights are denied.” The group said that Costantini relocated to a Palestinian refugee camp a few months ago after leaving her life in Italy. The claims made by the Israeli security service were not mentioned.
An inquiry for comments was not immediately answered by the Italian consulate in Jerusalem. The foreign ministries of Italy and Israel declined to comment as well.