Tony Blair’s sister-in-law Lauren Booth ‘trapped’ in Gaza
Lauren Booth, a ‘human rights activist’ who is also Tony Blair’s sister-in-law, said she is effectively trapped inside Gaza after being prevented by Israeli and Egyptian authorities from leaving.
She arrived in Gaza on a “peace boat” ten days ago carrying human rights activists who wanted to draw attention to the tight blockade imposed in Gaza by Israel. But when the boat left last Thursday she decided to stay.
Tony Blair currently serves as a Palestinian development envoy but it is not known if he has sought to intervene on behalf of his wife’s half-sister. The spokesman for Mr Blair’s office in Jerusalem was unavailable for comment.
“When I went to the Israeli checkpoint I was threatened with being shot four times,” she said from a house in Gaza City.
“And when I went to the Rafah crossing (into Egypt) I had all the permission lined up at the top level but a lowly official stopped me from leaving.”
She described as “fantastic” British diplomats in the East Jerusalem consulate, which bears responsibility for Gaza and the West Bank, for trying everything to get her out.
But she accused Israel of breaking the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines the right of an individual “to leave any country and to return to his country”.
Israel tightened an economic blockade on Gaza after Hamas forces violently seized control from Fatah in June, 2007, and has been accused by the UN of imposing collective punishment on the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.
About 45 people – including Americans, Palestinians and Israelis – took part in the “peace boat” mission last week.
The president of the Free Gaza Movement, Greta Berlin, said it was “a non-violent resistance project to challenge Israel’s siege of Gaza”.
In the past, Ms Booth has publicly criticised some of Mr Blair’s government’s foreign policy decisions.