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State refuses to allow Palestinians living in Israel under family unification to travel abroad via Ben Gurion International Airport for “security reasons”. Information supplied by the army prove this is an empty excuse

On June 2, 2016, HaMoked filed a High Court petition demanding Palestinians who live in Israel as part of the family unification procedure be allowed to travel abroad via Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport without need for a special permit, without restrictions and regardless of whether they have temporary status in Israel or live in the country thanks to renewable stay-permits. HaMoked stressed that despite living in Israel lawfully with their families for years, the individuals in question cannot travel abroad using the same route as their family members, and must take a different, more cumbersome one, which makes every trip abroad difficult, burdensome and injurious not only for the individuals themselves, but for their entire families. HaMoked recalled that Palestinians who live in Israel under the family unification procedure undergo stringent security screening every year as a condition for remaining in the country lawfully, and so, it is quite unclear what security threat their traveling through the airport might present.

In a notice submitted to the court on October 26, 2016, the state admitted that there had been an unpublicized directive to allow temporary Israeli status holders to travel through the airport. However, the state also clarified that Palestinian travel via Ben Gurion airport was against the opinion of Israeli security officials and that all Palestinians living in Israel under family unification were barred from using the airport, including those with temporary residency status.

Despite the aforesaid, information the military provided to HaMoked in response to a Freedom of Information Application indicates that between 2009 and 2016, Israel approved travel through Ben Gurion Airport to tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Not only that, according to the military figures, the number of Palestinians traveling through Ben Gurion Airport has been on the rise for the past two years. In 2016 alone, more than 5,000 people were allowed to use the airport. These figures clearly undercut the state’s argument that allowing Palestinians who live in Israel for years and undergo strict security checks to travel via Ben Gurion International Airport is a “security threat”.

The High Court of Justice will hold a hearing in the petition on May 21, 2017. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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