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Israel deports Italian woman detained in West Bank raid

Shin Bet says Stefania Costantini, 50, was involved in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group, refused to come in for questioning

Stefania Costantini, an Italian who was arrested in the West Bank and deported on January 17, 2023, by Israel on suspicion she was involved with the  Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (Twitter/used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Stefania Costantini, an Italian who was arrested in the West Bank and deported on January 17, 2023, by Israel on suspicion she was involved with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (Twitter/used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Israeli authorities said Tuesday they had deported an Italian woman detained in a  military raid in the Bethlehem area in the West Bank.

Stefania Costantini was arrested Monday during an incursion by Israeli forces into the Dheisheh refugee camp, the Shin Bet said.

The Shin Bet said Costantini arrived on a tourist visa in May and was suspected of being involved in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group.

“Costantini was summoned in September 2022 for interrogation by the Shin Bet, but she did not report (to the authorities) and even continued her activities for the terrorist organization,” the agency said in a statement.

The PFLP has also been designated a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

After Costantini’s arrest on Monday, she was handed over to Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority, whose spokeswoman told AFP she was deported the same day.

Costantini, 50, said she was beaten by soldiers during her arrest.

“I tried to resist and they beat me a lot, they kicked me on the ground,” she told AFP from the Italian city of Pisa.

“They were shouting that I was a terrorist,” added Costantini, describing herself as a pro-Palestinian activist.

“When I was in the jeep, they kept kicking my legs with their boots,” she said.

The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the allegations when contacted by AFP.

Her expulsion came the same day Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani spoke by phone to Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.

Neither mentioned Costantini’s case in their statements about the call, published on Twitter.

The Italian consulate in Jerusalem did not respond to an AFP request for comment on Costantini’s deportation.

In Monday’s raid, a 14-year-old Palestinian was killed, Palestinian health officials said.

According to the IDF, troops entered the Dheisheh refugee camp to arrest wanted Palestinians amid a months-long anti-terror effort following a series of terror attacks that killed 31 people in 2022.

“Suspects threw stones, explosives, and Molotov cocktails at the forces, who responded with riot dispersal means and live fire,” the IDF said in a statement.

The Palestinian Authority health ministry said the 14-year-old boy was hit in the head by the gunfire, and described his condition as critical. The ministry later said he had died, and named him as Omar Lutfi Khamour.

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