The Guardian September 5, 2001


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.

Back to index page