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Despite Promises, Israel Continues to Deny Foreign Nationals Entry to the Occupied Palestinian Territories

by the Campaign for the Right of Entry, February 6th

Despite a written announcement by the Israeli military Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (CoGAT) on December 28, 2006 that Israel has changed its policy of denying entry to foreign nationals traveling to the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), the Campaign for the Right of Entry/Re-entry continues to receive information from foreign nationals being denied entry on a regular basis. For every case that contacts the Campaign, numerous others remain undocumented. The following indicative cases are the tip of the iceberg:

• Mahmmoud M. Alie, 70, US national from Chicago, has been trying to enter the West Bank for nine months to be with his 70-year-old wife. He was last denied entry at the Jordanian border on 20 January. He was told that the reason was that “he was on a list on the computer.” (Tel. Chicago: 001-4147593558)
• Nader Rahwan Hadallah, 43, US national from Florida, went to Amman with his Palestinian wife and was denied entry when they tried to return on 18 January. (Tel. Dubai: 00971-508250067)
• Dr. Dirgham Abu Ramadan, a German national, has been working as one of the few open-heart surgeons in the occupied West Bank since 2001. He was denied a visa extension on 15 January and 25 January and threatened with deportation. After legal intervention he received a three-month visa, instead of the long-term permission to stay he requested. (Tel.: 0599-412274)
• Suzy Salamy, US national from New York who came to do a documentary on Jewish American peace activists, was denied entry and deported from Ben Gurion airport on 5 January. (Tel. New York: 001-6462494435 // Email: rohee43209@yahoo.com)
• Abdel Jamal Wadoud Ali, 67, and his wife Kuthar Khuri Ali, 52, both US nationals from Florida, came to visit their daughters and to care for Kuthar’s 80-year-old mother. They were held for seven days at Ben Gurion airport and then deported to Jordan on 16 January. (Tel. Amman: 00962-53990934)
• Mrs. A. and her two-year-old daughter, US nationals, have tried to reunite with her husband six times over the past year with no success. They were last denied entry on 8 January with no reason given.
• Riad Sharma, US national from Georgia who has two daughters living in al-Bireh, in the West Bank, was last denied entry on 3 January 2007. He spent in total about NIS 40,000 hiring a Israeli lawyer and paying court fees including a NIS 25,000 deposit that will only be paid back if/when Mr. Sharma leaves the country, just to be allowed in for two weeks. After another costly legal procedure he obtained a last-minute visa extension for two and a half months.(Tel. West Bank: 972-2-2403551;email: lena_shrm@yahoo.com )

In their response to a recent CoGAT presentation presented to the international community which restated Israel’s supposed change in policy of access for foreign citizens, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem noted:

All aspects of Israel’s policies with regard to the Palestinian civilian population have been characterized by arbitrariness and a complete lack of transparency. The COGAT presentation does not mention any mechanisms that will be established to ensure that even the limited improvements presented will be implemented. Such mechanisms are crucial to ensure that the Palestinian population benefits from the measures described…. Today tens of thousands of families remain forcibly separated, and cannot even get short-term visitors permits.
Israel continues its grave violations of International and Humanitarian Law by prohibiting families remaining together and thus forcing them to relocate. The policy of obstructing foreign nationals from reaching the oPt is causing extreme damage to all sectors of Palestinian society, namely education, business and civil society.

*The CoGAT letter and presentation, Btselem’s response and details of cases denied entry are available on request

For more information: (c) +970-(0)59-817-3953,or (c) + 970-(0)59-378-278 (email) info@righttoenter.ps