“Shin-Bet” Regularly Intimidates Activists at Ben-Gurion Airport

Peter Beinart, a leading Jewish-American journalist, was detained for questioning at the Ben-Gurion International Airport while entering Israel, according to an article he published on August 13 in The Forward. Over the past two months, several incidents have been reported involving the detention of workers in human rights organizations, students, professionals, journalists, both Israelis and foreigners, at Ben-Gurion Airport.

Peter Beinart

Peter Beinart (Photo: National Public Radio)

The “Shin Bet,” Israel’s internal security service, has also resumed its practice of summoning human rights or political activists to “warning conversations.” Two months ago, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) wrote to the Attorney General to complain about the detention of the Executive Director of the Coalition of Women for Peace and of a journalist from Social Television at Ben-Gurion Airport on the demand of Shin Bet. Each activist was detained for a certain length of time after landing from abroad and subsequently released without being asked any questions.

In 2013, the ACRI petitioned the Supreme Court, challenging the authority of Shin Bet to summons social and political activists to “warning conversations.” Although the Court ruled, that the Shin Bet is empowered to hold such conversations, it set binding rules for their conduct.

On July 31, 2018, the ACRI wrote to the Petitions Department of the State Attorney’s Office concerning the earlier incidents and two additional cases in which activists were summoned to “warning conversations” by the Shin Bet: “Each of the cases described above is grave in its own right, but taken together they paint a depressing and alarming picture of the ongoing harassment of civil society organizations and activists, including the participation of the Shin Bet in the campaign of de-legitimization they face.”

“Moreover, the two recent incidents violated the provisions established in Supreme Court case 5277/13, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel vs. the Shin Bet (the petition against Shin Bet’s “warning conversations.”)