Israel has deported the head of a Christian organization who had organized heart surgery and other operations for Palestinian children by Israeli doctors.

Jonathan Miles, a United States citizen who founded the Israeli non-profit organization Light to the Nations—now called Shevet Achim—was told he was no longer welcome in the country.

The move has disturbed some Christian groups who had praised Miles for his humanitarian efforts in the midst of a deep conflict.

Miles had been working in conjunction with Save a Child's Heart, a foundation providing free, urgent heart surgery for children in poor and developing nations. He originally came to the Middle East in 1990 as a journalist, before moving to his position with Light to the Nations, in which he traveled back and forth between Israel and the Gaza Strip, transporting sick Palestinian children to Israel.

"We are followers of Jesus, and we wanted to follow his example of love thy neighbor, particularly those who were dying and suffering," he told Ecumenical News International.

The son of a Lutheran pastor, Miles believed that he was a victim of what he described as an "ongoing policy of encouraging visitors, especially those who had lived in Israel for a long time, to leave."

For two years, he lived with his family in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, but moved to Jerusalem last year, following Israel's repeated military incursions into Gaza.

He facilitated the transfer of Palestinian infants from Gaza to Israeli hospitals and also took otherwise unavailable medicine back to the Gaza.

He also raised money abroad for the cause and set up a system of referrals for newborn Palestinian babies in the West Bank who needed heart surgery in Israel.

While he apparently ran foul of the Israeli ...

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