Finnish MP arrested after breaking through Gaza border fence

The five-person group was trying to call attention to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza by crossing through the barrier, according to the

Defense Ministry begins construction of smart-fence along Gaza border. (photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Defense Ministry begins construction of smart-fence along Gaza border.
(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Finnish Member of Parliament Anna Kontula was arrested on Monday after attempting to cut through the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, according to a report by the Helsinki Times on Thursday.
Five international human rights activists, part of a group called Gaza 2020 Breaking the Siege, were trying to call attention to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza by crossing through the barrier, according to Kontula.
She was detained for more than 10 hours by Israeli authorities. A parliamentary assistant to Kontula claimed that authorities tried to force her to sign a statement admitting to accusations made against her, including obstructing an investigation and endangering public safety. Kontula refused to sign the statement.
The parliamentarian was also trying to call attention to arms trade between Finland and Israel. Kontula called for Finland to halt arms purchases from Israeli companies in order to stop supporting human rights violations in Gaza and the West Bank.
“Finland is supporting stakeholders that benefit from the continuing occupation and military activity by Israel,” said Kontula. “By acquiring weapons systems from Israel, Finland also gets to benefit from the development of weapons technology carried out in occupied areas.”
Kontula claimed the arms trade sends “the political message that there are no consequences for the over half-a-century-long occupation and serious infringements of international law by Israel.”
The barrier along the Gaza border is meant to prevent terrorist infiltrations into Israeli communities. Traffic in and out of the Gaza Strip goes through five crossings between the Strip, Israel and Egypt.
“In my view the attitude whereby we should not criticize violations of international law because it might weaken [bilateral] relations sounds very 70s,” said Kontula.
Israel’s upgraded barrier with the Strip is expected to be completed by next summer – both above and below ground – to remove the threat of cross-border attack tunnels and stop terrorists from Gaza from infiltrating into southern Israel.
More than 70,000 Israelis reside in over 50 communities in the Gaza border area.
Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.



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