Pro-Palestine activist Marthie Momberg has returned safely to South Africa, after she was denied access to Israel from the Jordan border and interrogated for hours by Israeli officials. Representing Kairos Southern Africa, Momberg was on her way to the annual Kairos Palestine International Conference in Bethlehem when she was barred from entering Israel.
When Momberg arrived in Jordan, she and other members of Kairos SA were met by the South African Ambassador to Jordan. The group was taken, by bus, through to the Jordan-Israel boarder, the same route where Palestinian Judge, Raed Zuaiter was shot by Israeli soldiers. Momberg said it was the events which led to the death of Zuaiter that played through her mind during her journey.
“Those same images that I had seen in the media of Raed Zuaiter were now right here. I feared that I would have the same fate,” Momberg told VOC News just as she stepped into the Cape Town International Airport.
The experience is one she said will not be easily forgotten.
“I spoke with about 14 people while I was at the border. At first, the Israeli soldiers were polite. They asked me questions about my trip. They did numerous body searches, then after hours of talking, they became extremely abrupt and aggressive. I kept thinking that there are only two outcomes in this situation. Either, I leave here and go back home or they kill me,” Momberg said.
Throughout her interrogation, Momberg remained calm as Israeli officials cross questioned the activist. At one point, Momberg said there had been a flicker of hope that she may in fact be allowed entry. A female Israeli soldier even said to her that they were just waiting for her visa to come through. Not long after, Momberg was denied access.
“They made me wait outside in the cold for an hour until the South African Ambassador to Jordan came and got me just after 1am. It had been a long fourteen hours for me,” Momberg explained.
As one of the leaders at Kairos Southern Africa, Momberg is a regular face at pro-Palestinian marches and rallies in the city. Kairos is a Christian-faith based organisation that addresses social justice in South Africa and the Middle East.
Upon her arrival in Cape Town, Momberg said the entire experience had not put a damper on her spirits. Instead, it fuelled her passion for the advocacy for a liberated Palestine.
“If this was what I had to go through and I am not even a Palestinian. Imagine what it must be like for those Palestinians having to endure that kind of treatment whenever they want to go to school, home or work. This has really opened my eyes. All in all, this experience inspires me to be a better activist.” VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)