Dundee trade union bosses were detained and interrogated at an Israeli airport as they tried to leave the country following a visit to Palestine.
The security incident happened on Wednesday as the group arrived at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv following a visit to Dundee’s twin town Nablus in Palestine.
Although finally allowed to leave the country after two hours of questioning, four of the group had their luggage seized and removed from the plane.
It still hasn’t arrived back in Scotland.
The two groups were at the end of a week long visit to Nablus in Palestine, promoting solidarity, helping local school children plant olive trees and taking word of a new fire engine to be donated by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
Among those apprehended and interrogated by security officials were Mike Arnott of Dundee TUC and Jim Malone of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
Dundee councillor Pete Shears, who was representing the Communication Workers Union, and Mary McGregor, convener of the Dundee/Nablus Twinning Association, were also detained.
The group had arrived at Tel Aviv airport on Wednesday to fly to Milan before catching another flight back to Edinburgh.
But shortly after arrival at the Tel Aviv airport they were stopped by security and questioned for almost two hours before finally being allowed to board the Milan bound flight.
Once on board, the group then saw some of their luggage being removed from the plane.
The missing items did not arrive in Milan and have yet to be returned to the group.
‘Deliberate action to muck us about’
Mike Arnott said: “This was a very deliberate action by the Israeli state to muck us about.”
The group claim they may have been under surveillance during their visit, which saw them sign an agreement of solidarity between the Dundee trade unions and the General Union Council of Palestinian Labour Unions, Nablus Branch.
Mike added: “They always seemed to know where we were and what we were doing throughout the trip.”
FBU rep Jim Malone, who has visited Nablus on seven previous occasions, claimed the incident amounted to intimidation and harassment.
He told The Courier: “I was there bringing word of a new fire engine that the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service is donating to the fire service in Nablus.
“It will be delivered in the spring as a further show of our support for the fire service there.
“We previously donated a fire engine back in 2011.”
He added: “We were held and interrogated. It was not necessary. We were there on a diplomatic mission but during questioning they wanted to know everything about where we had been and who we had spoken to.”
Mary McGregor of the twinning association said that while in Nablus the group planted a tree in memory of Ernie Ross, one of the founding members behind the twinning of the two cities.
The TUC members also laid a wreath at the grave of Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian National Authority from 1994 to 2004.
Mary said: “When we returned to the airport at Tel Aviv we were questioned for more than an hour and a half.
“The questioning was vigorous. It came after we believed we were under serveillance when we were there.”
Mary added: “My luggage got back to Scotland but four of the trade union delegation have still not got their cases back.”
A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in London refused to comment.