Johannesburg – Speaking to the media at a press conference at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Thursday, Shashi Naidoo explained what happened when she was refused entry into Israel at the Jordan border.
The model announced in June that she would go on a fact-finding trip to the Palestian Territories following backlash she received for social media posts in which she expressed pro-Israel views.
However her trip was cut short when she was refused entry into Israel and banned for 10 years.
According to the model the entire ordeal started long before she even arrived at the border. Shashi says she had been warned before travelling to Israel that there may be complications: "We know now that I had been flagged before I left, but from the beginning of me walking in, I was targeted."
Shashi detailed what happened when she was interrogated by Israeli officials: "I was made to sit on a chair and then I was searched. And then I went to another area, pulled aside again," she says, adding that the situation was like "mental warfare."
She added: "In the beginning I was actually offered a Fanta and I thought, okay this is not so bad. But then we sat down and as the interrogation went on it was clear they obviously knew who I was and what was happening. But it got more and more intense, and after about two hours [of] interrogation, by the end of it I was in tears."
The star says she was called a liar and had been accused of wanting access into Palestine to attend a BDS conference.
Showing her passport with the red stamps she received in Israel, Shashi says she was told at the border that she has been banned for 10 years. "I don’t know what travel implications this has for me travelling anywhere else, because obviously whenever you apply for any other visa they ask you have you been denied a visa by another country. So, I think this is going to have huge travel implications for me."
A CHANGE IN PERSPECTIVE
Although she did not get the opportunity to visit the Palestinian Territories, Shashi was able to visit a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan and says that it has had a huge impact on her.
"After seeing what I’ve seen I have had a massive change in perspective. Because you go and you can’t unsee the things that you’ve seen," she said, describing the state of the camps as "shocking, saddening, and disheartening."
The model says she encourages anyone who wants to learn more to take a trip to see one of the refugee camps or visit the Palestinian Territories if it possible for them to gain entry. "It’s never too late, and once you do see there’s no way you wouldn’t want to get involved."