Israel deports local Lutheran volunteer
Faith Rowold, daughter of Pastor Paul and Donna Rowold of Polson, is in Prague, Czech Republic, after being denied entry to Israel. Rowold had been a volunteer with the Lutheran Church in Jerusalem for the past two years.
Rowold, 27, was returning to Israel from the Czech Republic with her partner, Jared Malsin, 25, on Jan. 12. Agents of Israel’s El Al Airlines detained Rowold and Malsin at the Prague airport after they went through preliminary screening.
Eventually Rowold and Malsin were allowed on their flight back to Tel Aviv after they were interrogated and given full body searches.
Rowold and Malsin were detained again by Israeli airport security when they presented their passports at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. They were held and interrogated in the airport for eight hours before being transferred to the Immigration Detention Center on the airport grounds.
Rowold and Malsin were placed in separate cells and were unable to communicate with each other until just hours before Rowold was deported back to Prague on the morning of Jan. 14.
“The most frightening episode was when I was startled from my bunk at 2 a.m. on the morning of my deportation and brought out of the room and into the hallway, where Jared was standing. He looked like he was in pretty rough shape, and we were both shaking from cold and exhaustion. This was the first time we’d seen or talked to each other in the 24 hours since we had been separated and put in different cells at the detention center, and we held each other and talked for a bit,” Rowold said in an e-mail interview. “ … Being forcibly separated and not knowing when we are going to see each other again is terrible. I still don’t know how many more days it might be before we can be together again.”
Malsin is the chief English editor at the Ma'an News Agency. Rowold said the Ma’an News Agency is based in Bethlehem and is an independent Palestinian news agency, with no ties to any church or political party.
“They’re (Ma’an News Agency) basically the local news from Palestine, but the English editors are very careful to call the Israelis for comments and try and include their side of the story,” Rowold explained.
A lawyer for Ma'an filed an injunction against the deportation order for Malsin, who remained in detention, awaiting a court hearing. The state attorney filed the state’s case late on Jan. 17.
Rowold said, “Jared is still in Israeli custody … He has not been allowed out of the cell he is in except to walk around outside in the small yard on a couple of occasions, and he will certainly not be allowed to attend his hearing in Tel Aviv, if there is one. He was finally able to get a change of clothes and a book and some writing materials a couple of days ago.”
Although Malsin’s attorney has filed his case on Jan. 18, Rowold said the decision is with the judge to either rule on the case without a hearing or to schedule a hearing for sometime, “we don’t know when.”
“At least Jared is able to get some phone calls from his parents and from the American Embassy. There are no rights and no guarantees for Palestinian prisoners in administrative detention,” Rowold explained.
Rowold tried to call Malsin on Jan. 18 but was not allowed to speak to him.
It has recently been reported that approximately 100 church and non-governmental (NGO) workers who had previously held work visas from Israel have been denied renewals.