Captured Kiwi about to be deported

BY MARTIN KAY
Last updated 18:42 02/06/2010
Nicola Enchmarch
CAPTURED KIWI: Nicola Enchmarch is one of a number of people named by a British organisation as either captured of injured in the Israeli assault.
israel gaza flotilla raid
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Israeli forces are seen before a raid on a Gaza bound ship.

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The New Zealand woman detained after an Israeli raid on an aid flotilla headed for Gaza is about to be deported from Israel, but her destination is not known.

The Israeli Embassy in Wellington said Nicola Enchmarch was with other detainees aboard buses on their way to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport.

The statement, issued about 6pm, did not say where she would be sent.

New Zealand's Honorary Consul in Israel visited Ms Enchmarch yesterday (local time) and reported that she was being well treated and was in good health.

Her family members in Auckland have asked for privacy and have said they will not comment further.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said this afternoon latest reports from Israel were that Ms Enchmarch was likely to be deported within the next 48 hours.

He said he didn't know what her destination would be.

Israel announced earlier that it would deport the hundreds of foreign activists detained on Monday, as international pressure against its actions mounts.

The New Zealand Embassy in Ankara, which is accredited to Israel, has been in contact with the Israeli authorities on the deportation process.

Earlier today, Israeli Ambassador to New Zealand Shemi Tzur said former Aucklander Ms Enchmarch was among a group of detainees who were continuing to resist their removal. Some of the group had indicated they would take court action to overturn their deportation orders, and it was most probable Ms Enchmarch was taking the same option.

"There were a group of people, and she was among them, who've chosen no [to offers to leave]. They want to continue there, they won't accept the deportation.

"This group have the opportunity to go to court ... and I think they want to take all the measures and all the time to appeal to court to stop the deportation process."

Ms Enchmarch was working with aid organisation Viva Palestina while living in Britain.

Mr McCully said he was not aware of Ms Enchmarch being part of a group planning legal action to stay in Israel, though she had declined earlier opportunities to leave.

"I know that she was given the chance to go immediately, and declined that. I understand she's expressed a view that she wants to stay with some of the people she was on the boat with until they're able to go, but that's all I know at this stage."

It had been "her call" to stay, and consular officials who visited her overnight had reported she was being well-treated.

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"She is in good shape. She's been kept in circumstances that are, I think, satisfactory, and we're advised that she's likely to be deported some time in the next 48 hours."

He did not know whether she would be returning to New Zealand if she was deported.

Mr Tzur said more than 400 people detained after the fatal assault by Israeli marines on the aid convoy remained in detention in Beersheba, but he could not give exact figures.

The rest of those detained after the bloody raid had either taken the offer to be deported immediately they reached land or had decided to go in the intervening day.

Under Israeli law, those who remained had 72 hours from the time they set foot on Israeli soil to appeal to the courts for their deportation orders to be cancelled. The deadline expires tomorrow.

The resistance follows Israel saying it would immediately deport the hundreds of activists seized aboard a Turkish-backed aid flotilla to Gaza in Monday's bloody raid.

In the face of mounting world criticism of Monday's assault, Israeli officials said all 680 activists held would be freed, including two dozen Israel had threatened earlier to prosecute charging they had assaulted its troops.

"It was agreed that the detainees would be deported immediately," Nir Hefez, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said in a written statement to reporters.

 

Ms Enchmarch's family in New Zealand issued a statement through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade this afternoon, requesting privacy at this "difficult time". 

The statement said the New Zealand Embassy in Ankara, which is accredited to Israel, was in contact with Israeli authorities on the deportation process.
 
Beyond that, the family would be making no further comment to media.

MFAT would continue providing regular updates to the family on Ms Enchmarch's situation.

Israel's actions have been condemned worldwide after at least nine people died in the raid. Ambassador Tzur was yesterday summoned to the Beehive where Mr McCully demanded a full investigation.

Mr Tzur, who filled the post only last month after eight years without an ambassador, said the flotilla ignored repeated warnings not to breach the blockade. While Israel regretted the loss of life, blame lay with the flotilla organisers, he said.

Mr McCully said he had left Mr Tzur in no doubt of the gravity of the Government's concerns.

- With Reuters and NZPA

- Stuff

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