Israel deports Italian activist arrested in West Bank raid



Israel deported an Italian activist to Italy after security forces detained her during a raid in the occupied West Bank, Israeli authorities said, accusing her of having links to a Palestinian militant group.

The Israeli military arrested Stefania Costantini during a pre-dawn incursion Monday into the the Dheisha refugee camp in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.

Footage shared on social media shows an Israeli soldier picking up Costantini and flipping her over his shoulders as she shrieks. A group of soldiers drag her out of the camp and shove her into a military vehicle, videos show. Israeli forces fatally shot a 14-year-old boy in the head during the same raid as they opened fire on Palestinians throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails.

Italian media described Costantini as an advocate for Palestinian rights. Israel’s Shin Bet security ser-vice said Costantini was arrested on suspicion of belonging to, and transferring funds to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The militant group, known as the PFLP, was involved in hijack-ing passenger planes in the 1960s and 1970s and later claimed responsibility for suicide attacks during the Second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, in the early 2000s. It is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

The Shin Bet said Costantini arrived in Israel on May 2 last year on a tourist visa and was summoned for interrogation last September about her alleged involvement with the PFLP. Costantini did not report to authorities “and even continued her activities” for the militant group, the security agency said. Israel deported her on Monday afternoon, the Interior Ministry said.

The COBAS leftist labor union in Pisa, Italy, to which Costantini belongs, expressed “consternation” at the news of her arrest and deportation. The union said it was concerned for Costantini’s “health and safety.”

The group described Costantini as a specialist working with students with disabilities who has long sought to defend “those whose rights are denied.—AP