Palestinian detainees at Curtin and Port Hedland deported overnight
The Head of the General Palestinian Delegation to Australia, Mr Ali Kazak, condemned Israel for its rejection of an Australian government request to allow the 102 Palestinian refugees, in the Australian migrant detention camps, to return to their country. He strongly questioned whether the Australian Government had exerted sufficient pressure on Israel to do so. Mr Kazak said he was informed that the Department of Immigration had deported 10 of the Palestinians back to Syria following Israel's refusal. Mr Kazak said he had asked the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Phillip Ruddock, to use Australia's good relations with Israel in order to facilitate their return. The Palestine National Authority (PNA) had issued the Palestinians at Curtin and Port Hedland with Palestinian passports as a humanitarian gesture in order to help solve the problem of those who have no documents of identity or passports. He said the Palestinians in Australia's detention camps differ from other detainees in that they prefer to return to their homeland, Palestine, which Israel dispossessed them from in 1948 on racial grounds, because they were not Jews. Mr Kazak said Australia recently did Israel a great favour by agreeing to take nearly 200 former South Lebanese Army personnel and their families who collaborated with the Israeli army in South Lebanon and fled to Israel following its withdrawal. Israel now wants to get rid of them. Mr Kazak also strongly criticised the manner in which they were deported saying that nine of them at the Curtin detention camp were given no advance warning of their impending deportation. They were woken at 4am on Sunday morning and taken straight away in their shorts, unable to dress properly and to collect the few belongings they had. "Surely", said Mr Kazak, "there are more humane ways of deporting people than this." Mr Kazak called on the Australian Government to keep the Palestinian detainees on humanitarian grounds until a solution was found to the Palestinian refugee question through the peace process and they can then go back home.