british dude macdonald.
(photo credit: Courtesy Photo)
A British citizen and member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, arrested a month ago after allegedly assaulting a soldier in Hebron, cannot be deported from Israel despite being considered a security risk, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Andrew Macdonald, a 31-year-old Glasgow native, has spent the past three weeks in a detention center in the south awaiting deportation. Police confirmed on Wednesday that they were unable to deport Macdonald due to his refusal to board a Scotland-bound plane and his alleged threats to disrupt the flight.
Macdonald, who is currently being held in the Immigration Police Tzohar Detention Center, was arrested on November 3 with two other ISM activists after allegedly assaulting a group of soldiers standing at an IDF roadblock in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hebron. Macdonald was eventually released but was arrested again in Hebron on November 24 after he was caught in the West Bank city with an expired visa. Three weeks ago, police escorted Macdonald to an airplane at Ben Gurion Airport but he refused to board and according to police threatened to disrupt the flight.
Speaking to The Post from his prison cell, Macdonald rejected accusations that he made threats prior to boarding the plane and claimed to being repeatedly harassed by the prison commander. He further dismissed police claims he was a "provocateur" and said that he came to Israel to fight the occupation of the Palestinian people.
"I was involved in anti-occupation activity," Macdonald said. "There was no anti-Israel activity."
But the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) claimed that Macdonald was a security risk. Two years ago, he was deported after soldiers arrested him while holed up in a suicide terrorist's family's home they were trying to demolish. He was expelled from the country and his name was added to the Shin Bet's watch list. In August however, Macdonald succeeded in entering the country again after he legally changed his name.
Police explained that their hands were tied in trying to deport the British citizen since according to an arrangement with airline companies, they are only allowed to deport people who are willing to board their homebound flights. Noting that they have held foreign workers for several years before they agreed to be deported, the Immigration Police said Wednesday that they had lots of patience.
"If Macdonald doesn't want to be deported than he will just have to stay in prison," police said. "We have repeatedly offered him to take a flight home but he refuses and there is nothing we can do about it."
Police also rejected accusations by Macdonald that they had warned him that if he would not willingly board the plane they would handcuff him and drug him.
"That is absurd," the police said. "We would never do something illegal. He can stay in our prison as long as he wants."
While police said Macdonald was being deported since he was illegally residing in Israel with an expired visa similar to an illegal foreign worker, they also noted that he was a "troublemaker" and had provoked soldiers and policemen in Hebron in the past.
"He is a provocateur and makes trouble in Hebron," police said. "He is not here on vacation."
ISM spokeswoman Neta Golan rejected the police accusations and claimed that Macdonald, as well as the other international activists, were not involved in anti-Israel activity but in helping the Palestinian population in Hebron protect itself from violent Jewish settlers.
"Macdonald is not a provocateur. All he did was walk [Palestinian] children to school," Golan said. "They don't understand that by supporting and helping the Palestinians we are actually minimizing the level of violence."
As for Macdonald, he said he had more fortitude than the police. "I will not agree to get on a plane," he said. "I am refusing the deportation since the Israeli military arrested me outside the borders of Israel in the West Bank and transferred me to their country. This doesn't happen anywhere else in the world."