Swift Current's Rachelle Friesen gets first-hand experience of Middle East politics
Rachelle Friesen, from Swift Current, has experienced first-hand the realities of tensions in the Middle East after being detained — and ultimately deported — from Israel. Friesen had been working with Palestinians as a service worker for the Mennonite Central Committee.
Friesen has worked in Gaza for four years. The Gaza strip has long been a flash-point in Middle East politics.
Friesen was in Israel after attending a conference in Spain. Friesen says when Israeli officials learned of her contact with Palestinians, she was detained for further questioning.
Some 30 hours later she was ordered to return to Spain and told she had been banned from entering Israel for 10 years.
"The only reason they gave me was that I had become a security risk," Friesen told CBC Radio host Sheila Coles, of the Morning Edition. "And the reasons as to why I had become a security risk were completely unclear."
After the interview, CBC News contacted officials in Israel who confirmed that Friesen was not allowed into the country.
According to officials, she was at Ben Gurian International Airport May 29 and the Israel Security Service recommended that her entry to Israel be refused due to security considerations.
According to the MCC, what happened is not unusual.
"Friesen’s deportation is similar to what some foreign visitors have experienced, simply for acknowledging contact with Palestinians," an article about Friesen, published on the MCC Canada website, noted.
"As part of my work as a development worker, I'm required to go to Gaza," Friesen added. "And I received a permit from Israel to actually go to Gaza. And still they considered my work and myself a security risk."
Friesen is now in Serbia and expects to return to Canada soon.