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Israel expels Irish Nobel peace laureate

Israel today expelled Irish Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who was barred from the country for trying to bust the naval blockade of Gaza, after the country's Supreme Court rebuked her allegations of "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians.

world Updated: Oct 05, 2010 21:27 IST

Israel today expelled Irish Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who was barred from the country for trying to bust the naval blockade of Gaza, after the country's Supreme Court rebuked her allegations of "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians.

Israel's Interior Ministry said that she left the country for Britain on an early morning flight. The Nobel laureate had entered Israel last week as a part of delegation to meet Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, defying the Jewish state's ban on her entry into the country for 10 years after trying to sail to Gaza on a blockade-busting ship in June.

Maguire was detained and held at an airport detention facility soon after her arrival.

She appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court where her argument that Israel was an apartheid state resorting to ethnic cleansing of Palestinians upset the Judge who retorted saying the courtrom was "no place for propaganda".

Fellow Nobel laureate, Jody Williams, of the Nobel Women's Initiative, which had sponsored the delegation Maguire was part of said that they were unaware of the travel ban against her.

Israeli officials however rejected the claims. Maguire, who won the 1976 Nobel peace prize for her work in Northern Ireland, in the recent years has emerged as an outspoken critic of Israel.

She has also voiced support for Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, a man widely seen in Israel as a traitor.

Before the ban, Maguire attended anti-Israel demonstrations in the West Bank and compared the Jewish state's reported nuclear arsenal to Hitler's gas chambers.

In 2007, she was wounded at a demonstration against Israel's West Bank security barrier when a rubber bullet fired by police hit her in the leg.

The local media was broadly supportive of the Israeli decision with popular Hebrew daily Ma'ariv describing her as the "laureate of hate".

"We must not mistake her: The Nobel peace prize laureate is no "peace activist", a columnist for the daily wrote. "She identifies in absolute terms with Hamas, despite the fact that she knows that it is an anti-Semitic organisation that has insisted on continued violence, openly preaches for the annihilation of the Jews and supports global jihad and the Islamic conquest of the entire free world", he argued.