Anna Kontula, a member of Finland’s parliament, was arrested at the fence with other European anti-Israel activists on Monday. The illegal attempt would have opened the border making it easier for Hamas terrorists to infiltrate and kill Israeli citizens.
MP Kontula arrived with the other activists at the border fence area around 7:00 AM when Israeli security forces arrested them. They were detained for interrogation by the Ofakim police and were released at 7:40 PM and banned from entering the south of Israel again. Some of the others arrested were Lisa Duscheck, an Austrian entrepreneur and humanitarian activist, Julia Lister of Britain, and Mads Gram of Denmark.
In her YouTube video explaining her actions, Kontula claimed inaccurately that “now, Israel is building an airtight wall around Gaza.” It is clear that Kontula was speaking in hyperbole since it would be impossible to build an “airtight wall” but it is also clear that she is entirely unfamiliar with Israeli geography. For Israeli contractors to construct a wall entirely surrounding Gaza, they would need to work in areas that are currently within Egypt.
Two anti-Israel activists were arrested last Thursday in a similar incident.
The Finnish Embassy, inexplicably located in the metropolitan center of Tel Aviv, refused to comment on the incident, saying that Kontula acted as a “private person”.
Finnish media reported that the country’s foreign minister Pekka Haavisto (Green League) said he would investigate the incident because he did not know the details, but noted that in general that there is an immunity for MPs but they must also obey the laws of the country in which they are guests.
The investigation will probably be hampered by several egregious cases of misreporting by Finnish media. Finnish news Yle Uutiset reported on the incident Tuesday under a headline that claimed that Kontula was “held in Israel over arms trade criticism.” That was later amended that her arrest was for “intended unauthorised attempt to enter into Gaza by bypassing legal routes.”
Even more egregious was an article in Helsinki Times that claimed that “the objective of the five-person group was to call attention to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza by crossing the barrier separating Israel and Gaza.” At no point did the article mention that the group was attempting to infiltrate the border or damage the security fence.
Im Tirtzu, a pro-Israel NGO, started an online petition protesting Kontula’s actions and calling for her to be ejected from her position in the Finnish government.
“This week, MP Anna Kontula (Left Alliance) illegally tried to cut the security fence that protects Israeli civilians from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists in the Gaza Strip,” the petition reads. “This inexcusable action is not only a blatant attempt to undermine Israel’s security and sovereignty, but a stain on the Government of Finland. It is important to note that if MP Kontula’s actions had gone unnoticed by the Israeli authorities, the lives of thousands of Israeli men, women, and children would have been put at risk.”
“Given this reprehensible action, we demand that MP Kontula be ousted from the Finnish Parliament. Finland deserves representatives who have the people’s best interest at heart, not who waste their time trying to harm the world’s only Jewish state.”
The attempt was made on the 16th anniversary of the death of Tom Hurndall, a British citizen who went to Gaza to protest against Israel and to act as a human shield for Gazans rioting along the border. Hurndall was shot in the head by IDF troops operating in Gaza in April 2003 who came under fire and returned fire. Hurndall remained in a coma for nine months before dying. An IDF inquiry determined that Hurndall was acting as a human shield for the terrorists, a charge his parents denied. Idier Wahid Taysir Hayb, a Bedouin Israeli sergeant, was judged to have acted improperly by an IDF court and was sentenced to eight years for manslaughter.