Peace activist refused entry to Palestine

Protestor: Gordon Bennett was turned away by Israeli immigration
Protestor: Gordon Bennett was turned away by Israeli immigration
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A Preston man who was arrested while working as a peace activist in Israel has been denied entry into Palestine.

Gordon Bennett, 43, said he was kicked, punched and strangled by Israeli troops while recording human rights violations against Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Territories last September.

He was arrested with two other British citizens, an American and two Palestinian men, in the village of Kufr Qaddoum.

The Amnesty International worker said he was threatened by his captors that he would be raped in prison during a 36-hour ordeal, before being taken to a midnight court hearing where he was accused of throwing stones at soldiers.

He was placed under house arrest in Tel Aviv for a week, before being released without charge in October.

The ex-Preston College student, who vowed to continue his work after the ordeal, left Israel and travelled to Thailand via Egypt at the end of last year.

On Sunday, February 3, he tried to re-enter Palestine via the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan, but was turned away by security officials and has his British Passport endorsed so he cannot go back to Israel or Palestine.

He said: “After lengthy questioning by Israeli Immigration, who control the border, I was refused entry.

“I was then sent immediately back to Jordan. The Jordanian officials had clearly seen this happen many times before.

“Israel does not want people to see what it is doing in the West Bank, and puts a lot of effort into trying to keep out international observers.

“As the bus driver who took me back to Jordan said, ‘Israel doesn’t like Palestinians, and doesn’t like people who like Palestinians’.”

Gordon’s father, Alan Bennett, 72, who lives in Cottam, and his mother, Sandra Hodgson, 67, who lives in Clitheroe, have both said they support his decisions, but hope he comes home safe from the Middle East.

Gordon said: “I had decided to try and go back to Palestine having seen the recent escalation in attacks by Israeli forces on peaceful protests across the West Bank.

“Now is a time when international observers can play an important role.”

Having been refused entry at the border, Gordon said he planned to return to the UK to take part in protest actions against the Israeli occupation.

The former Fulwood High School pupil said: “I will be taking part in UK protest actions against the Israeli occupation, including protests organised by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement against Sainsbury’s, who trade with Israeli agricultural companies operating from illegally occupied Palestinian land.”