Israeli authorities on Sunday refused to grant entry to a legislator from the Swedish parliament and an expatriate Israeli artist who sailed on the Turkish-flagged humanitarian aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip earlier this year.
The Turkish-born MP Mehmet Kaplan and artist Dror Feiler were detained at the Ben Gurion International Airport upon landing, on the grounds that they were barred for 10 years due to their participation in the May 2010 flotilla. Both were among the dozens of flotilla passengers taken in to custody following Israel's deadly raid.
Feiler, who currently lives in Sweden, also took part in the flotilla, though not on the Mavi Marmara ship where nine Turkish activists died in clashes with Israeli naval commandos. He has given up his Israeli citizenship but has been permitted to return to the country dozens of times since. This was the first time he was denied entry.
Kaplan and Feiler had planned to use their trip in Israel to lodge an official complaint with the Israel Police against the Israel Defense Forces. Their complaint accused the IDF of kidnapping, armed robbery, violence and obstruction of freedom.
Feiler claims that Israeli security forces confiscated his saxophone during the raid, and refused to return it to him. Kaplan says the IDF stole his satellite telephone and camera.
Investigators at Ben Gurion airport told them upon arrival that their request to enter had been refused, and transferred them to Interior Ministry authorities.
"Anyone who took part in the flotilla will not be permitted into Israel," said Sabine Hadad, spokesman for immigration authorities. "They know this. They should have contacted the embassy before arriving."