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Walk to Palestine: Activist walking 5,000km

Benjamin Ladraa is walking from Sweden to Palestine to raise awareness of the Israeli occupation.

Twenty-five-year-old Swedish activist Benjamin Ladraa is on a treacherous walk from Sweden to Palestine to raise awareness about human rights violations in the occupied territories.

As of Wednesday, he is in Bulgaria and should reach Istanbul on March 20, walking 30-50km a day.

Ladraa began his 5,000km journey from Gothenburg, Sweden, on August 8 last year.

"The plan is to continue through Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and again through Syria to Jordan, and if I cannot get into Palestine, I will try to inform the media about it," he said.

Journey

Each day is a different experience, Ladraa says. Sometimes he sleeps in his tent or a hostel. Dinner may mean eating canned food by a campfire or a meal shared with hosts he meets during his journey.

Ladraa sometimes holds lectures, where he tells his audience what he saw during his Palestine trip.

With the exception of some isolated incidents, he says most people welcomed him.

In Prague, he says, he was detained by Israeli embassy guards because he was carrying a Palestinian flag and pushing a trolley.

He was released after a bomb squad ensured he was not dangerous.

However, the guards scanned his passport, and Ladraa fears border troops will not let him enter Palestine.

He posts pictures of his journey on his Facebook and Instagram accounts under #walktopalestine.

Ladraa, who occasionally worked for the Red Cross, saved for about a year for this trip.

He says he has sold everything he owns. Sometimes, he receives donations.

He is expected to complete his journey in June or July.

Raising awareness

Ladraa says he was so moved by a three-week trip to Palestine in April 2017 that he decided to "tell the world about the situation in Palestine".

"I was shocked by what I saw there, seeing all the walls, soldiers walking along the streets carrying M-60 machine guns. I heard stories about 300 children in prisons, rapes in homes.

"After three weeks, I returned and wanted to do something to raise awareness about human rights violations in Palestine," said Ladraa, who was born to Jewish parents.

On the move, Ladraa carries the Palestinian flag on his back and a keffiyeh, a symbol of Palestinian independence, over his shoulder.

"I think everyone can and should give a little time to do something for other people," said Ladraa as he set off from Belgrade on February 10.


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