A Swedish peace activist, who had been walking for eleven months braving all kinds of adversities to reach Palestine, was denied entry by the Israeli Border Authority.
The peace activist Benjamin Ladraa started his walk on Aug. 8, 2017, to raise awareness about the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian people’s ordeal. He wanted to raise awareness about the Israeli military occupation that dates back toseven decades.
However, the 25-year-old Swedish musician was stopped by the Israeli Border Authority. They did not let him enter the Allenby crossing which links Jordan to the occupied West Bank. At this point, Ladraa was just a few miles away from his destination. He had walked over 4,800km from the Swedish city of Gothenburg and across mainland Europe to reach Palestine. He reportedly sold everything to make the journey.
Ladraa crossed 13 countries on foot after walking for eightto 10 hours a day. The singer always carried a Palestinian flag and his survival kit with him.
Unsurprisingly, in a show of power, the Israel authorities did not let him enter Palestine.
"I spent 11 months making this journey to raise awareness of the occupation, and despite being interrogated and denied entry I would do it all again," he told Al Jazeera.
His journey was full of difficulties, where he had to sleep in abandoned buildings and bear the cold winters. Ladraa’s was suffering for a great humanitarian cause and hence garnered a lot of support over social media. He documented his #walktopalestine on social media.
"I've managed to reach thousands of people through this campaign and hopefully raise further awareness of the suffering of the Palestinian people," he said.
Israeli authorities did not let him in and interrogated Ladraa for six hours because apparently “he was lying.”
"They gave two reasons for rejecting my entry. First, they accused me of lying, the other was they claimed I was coming to orchestrate protests in Nabi Saleh village [near Ramallah], something which is completely untrue."
Ladraa’s act of courageousness goes to show the kind of power activism holds.
The one thing that many believe could actually be effective in stopping the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians is a boycott of Israel. Following the fresh wave of violence at the hands of Israeli forces, more and more people are coming forward to support the “BDS.” The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions aims to end international support for Israeli violations of international law by forcing companies, institutions and governments to change their policies.
Last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu altered its entry law allowing Israeli authorities to reject entry visas to activists who support BDS or are against illegal settlements.
"Israel has a long history of rejecting Palestinians and activists at the border, so I was not surprised they denied me entry," Ladraa said.
"They have a lot to hide and know what impact human rights activists can have. Last week they prevented [BDS activist] Ariel Gold from coming in ... they're scared of the role we play in exposing Israel and working towards a free Palestine,” he continued.
He was detained in Austria because of carrying the Palestinian flag and a survival kit. Guards had picked the activist up at the Israeli embassy in Vienna.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas granted Ladraa citizenship and granted him the Medal of Merit because he went through major difficulties to represent “the conscience of humanity."
"On behalf of the Palestinian leadership and people of Palestine, we extend our deep gratitude to Ladraa, he has demonstrated exceptional courage and integrity by advocating on behalf of the Palestinian people and educating the international community about Israel's persistent violations and acts of aggression against Palestinian lives, lands and resources."
Thumbnail/Banner Image: Serhat Cagdas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images