A prominent South African scholar was detained today on arrival Ben-Gurion airport after flying into Israel, held incommunicado without access to South African diplomats and his whereabouts are currently unknown. A press release from the Afro-Middle East Center in Johannesburg, South Africa, of which Na’eem Jeenah is director states:
At approximately 10H00 today (Tuesday, May 17th) Na’eem Jeenah, the Director of the Afro-Middle East Centre, a research institute dedicated to studying the Middle East and relations between that region and Africa was detained at Ben Gurion airport.
Mr Jeenah was scheduled to participate in research meetings. Four hours later we were informed by the South African ambassador to Israel that the Israeli authorities were holding Mr Jeenah and would deport him to Istanbul this evening. The South African ambassador has been denied access to Mr Jeenah. At this time (21H00) despite repeated efforts both by the South African ambassador and officials from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Israeli officials refuse to disclose Mr Jeenah’s whereabouts. The Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Dov Segev-Steinberg has also ignored correspondence from South African officials.
We condemn in the strongest terms the outrageous behaviour of the Israeli authorities and have agreed to launch a local and international campaign to demand Mr Jeenah’s release. The AMEC office will keep interested parties updated.
As of this writing, it is unclear if Jeenah had been deported or remained in Israeli detention. We will watch for updates.