Answers to the following questions are compiled from the experiences of many individuals, since the Israelis will not specify the procedures necessary for someone to be assured of entry to the oPt. Neither these FAQ’s nor any information in this site should be considered as legal advice. If you have additional questions or can help clarify answers, please write to us at mailto: RightToEnter@gmail.com and write “FAQ” in the subject line.
1) I was denied entry. What should I do?
Report your experience to us by completing our case document form.
Contact your embassy or consulate in the country you were deported to, or in your home country and ask them to pursue your case;
Contact your local elected officials and ask them to pursue your case;
Contact the media and ask that they produce a piece on this issue.
2) Should I try to enter again after being deined entry?
Some people have had success gaining entry after trying several times. This can be time consuming, tiring, and expensive. There is no sure answer to this question, neither yes nor no. If you were denied entry, ask your embassy to intervene with the Israelis in order to facilitate re-entry.
3) My visa is expiring soon. What should I do?
As a foreign national, you may be able to get a tourist visa renewal by visiting the Israeli Ministry of Interior office in Jerusalem where you will be given an appointment for an interview. If you have many Israeli visas and cannot demonstrate that you are staying in “Israel” you are likely to be denied a renewal. However, the appointment may be several weeks after your request, which, we have been informally told, effectively extends your visa. Having a return ticket may be helpful.
4) I am planning on visiting. How should I prepare?
Prepare yourself and your trip in advance for different scenarios, especially the worst one–being denied entry and deported.
Be prepared to give straight, succinct answers to Israeli authorities. There is no need to volunteer information that is not asked for. Some people have reported that the initial “security” questioning seeks to expose a visitors connection with the oPt. If you are able to demonstrate that your destination is Jerusalem or some Israeli city your chances of entry might be higher. In all cases answer truthfully because you may sooner or later be checked for consistency.
Coming in through TA airport you might have a better chance to get in, and if refused, at least to reach a lawyer and delay deportation, and possibly manage to enter after all.
Make sure to time your flight to arrive in the morning here, and the earliest return flight of that company should be as many hours away as possible from arrival time.
Be equipped with a reliable lawyer‘s contact / phone (e.g. Sliman Shaheen at JLAC office in Jerusalem at 02-6272982, in Ramallah Abdallah Hammad at 02-2987981, 2959260.) Important: notify, consult and agree with the lawyer prior to your departure to make sure he/she is expecting you.
Have the number of your embassy or consulate in Tel Aviv/Jerusalem on you.
Think before arrival what you want to do in case of attempted deportation. Resist or accept or whatever, you decide.
There are reports of some people being denied entry at the airport, refusing to accept the deportation, and then being allowed in after a few days in a detention compound upon payment of a 50,000 shekel bond (approximately $12,000), to be refunded upon departure.
Make sure to write down everything that happens to you immediately after (time it too!). What they tell you, what you ask and reply, treatment by the ‘host‘, accommodation, nutrition, other cases you might see or communicate with.
There is also some helpful, detail information at the ISM site: www.palsolidarity.org/main/join/travel/
5) Who can I go to for help?
Some people have sought out assistance, usually very expensive ($500 – $4,000) from lawyers or others they know, or are referred to, who claim access to those who issue visas. While there are rumors of people who manage to get a visa of 1 week to 3 months this way, most of those who pay for this hope end up spending their money without getting what they expect in return. While we hear of rumors that visas can be bought, we know of examples where people have paid for advice or visas only to be told to leave at the end of their current visa.
This Campaign is pursuing an immediate, long-term solution to Israel‘s deportation practice.
6) What do Palestinian officials say about denying entry?
7) What do Israeli officials say about denying entry?
Israelis deny there is any change to their policy, only to the “tightening” of the policy‘s application. The fact that the policy to close off access to the occupied Palestinian territory even exists should be enough to ostracize Israel. The degree to which the policy is applied is an example of how emboldened Israel is in pursuing their ethnic/religious exclusivism against Palestinians.
8) Does Israel have a “right” to decide who gets to cross its borders?
Israel‘s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza (oPt) in 1967 effectively sealed off access of the population in those areas to the outside world, and vice versa. All individuals wishing to reach or exit the oPt must pass Israeli controlled crossings, whether at the airport, to Jordan or even within the oPt. As an occupied people, Palestinians in the oPt are considered a “protected population” under the 4th Geneva Convention, which is one of the legal conventions governing the behavior of the occupier (Israel) toward the occupied (Palestinians). Under international law Israel does not have the right to abuse its exercise of power over the occupied Palestinian population. Israel‘s deportation practices are causing disproportionate harm to the civilian population under its control and responsibility.
9) What impact has this had on Palestinian society?
Untold hundreds of families are being split, now faced with having one spouse forced to create a home somewhere else with some families relocating in order to be together. Children are being denied access to teachers and to an education. Businesses are being harmed and investors are unable to invest. Civil society organizations, aid organizations, human rights groups and culture providers are being denied access to workers, volunteers and artists. The impact of Israel‘s policy is all-encompassing.
10) What do foreign governments say about this policy?
The US Consulate in Jerusalem, for one, acknowledges there is a risk that Americans will be denied entry: “Occasionally, the Government of Israel has declined to admit individual American citizens or groups who have expressed sympathy with the Palestinian cause, sought to meet with Palestinian officials, or intended to travel to the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.” http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1064.html
A June 20, 2006 letter from the American Citizen Services office at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv acknowledges the problem but does not challenge Israel‘s practice of visa denials.
It is important that foreign nationals inquire of their embassies in Israel, as well as from Israeli embassies in their home countries, to address this issue. Please share your letters and the response they elicit by forwarding them to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
11) How many people are affected?
There are approximately 120,000 filings for family unification that Israel has refused to process since 2000. Other than that, getting hard data on those who have been deported is difficult since Israel does not share that information and following up on a family that shows up at Tel Aviv Airport to spend their summer with relatives in the West Bank only to be put on the very next plane back to where they flew from, requires a lot of effort. Click here if you want to help out.
12) What happens when someone is denied entry?
If you are detained at the airport you are likely to be placed in a holding cell until the airline that brought you has a return flight. You may also be offered a visa if you post a bond of up to $15,000. You will then be placed on that flight, at your own expense. If you decide to refuse being placed on the flight and demand to be brought before a judge, you will probably remain in the holding cell until a court date. Be aware that the airline pilot, and not Israeli security, has final say on if you will be allowed on the flight. Some people who have decided to protest their deportation have politely informed the pilot that they are being placed on the flight against their will, and that they will be disruptive to the passengers if forced to board the flight.If you are being denied entry at other entry points, the Israelis will detain you and place you on a bus returning to Jordan.
13) What can be done about ending this Israeli policy?
Active campaigning through legal means, the media, diplomatic missions…
14) What can I do to help?
Volunteer, donate, participate in meetings, spread the word…