Court Orders Peace Activist Deported for Trying to Cross Into Gaza

The Tel Aviv District Court on Sunday ordered American leftist activist Ken O'Keefe deported. O'Keefe was caught trying to cross the separation fence into the Gaza Strip near the settlement of Dugit after arriving in Israel three weeks ago.

District Court Judge Sara Gadot determined, based on intelligence reports, that O'Keefe was a security risk and had violated military orders by infiltrating an area controlled by the army after he had been warned against it and stated his intention to retry.

The judge also determined that O'Keefe had ignored a sign in English indicating the location of the border. O'Keefe claimed that the border was not a recognized international frontier and the sign was misleading.

O'Keefe served in the Marines in the 1991 Gulf War and in Iraq, where he said his experiences had turned him into a peace activist. He said he had organized hundreds of Americans and citizens of other Western countries to act as "human shields" in Iraq.

O'Keefe said he had come to Israel at the beginning of the 2003 Iraq war to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians. His attorney, Yael Barda of Gush Shalom, noted that although her client was eccentric, he was not a security risk.