Ben Gurion Airport to fire guard who tear-gassed Druze family

Guard reportedly sprayed family of 16 in their minibus after argument over a security check at the entrance to the site

Illustrative: Security seen at the departure hall of Ben Gurion International Airport on July 23, 2013. Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
Illustrative: Security seen at the departure hall of Ben Gurion International Airport on July 23, 2013. Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

Ben Gurion airport said Monday it had begun a disciplinary process to fire a security guard who sprayed tear gas at a Druze family and threatened them with his weapon at the entrance to the airport.

The incident occurred last week when a guard challenged a family of 16 from the northern town of Daliyat al-Karmel, demanding their passports at the entrance to the international airport, the Haaretz daily reported.

One of the the members showed the guard his IDF card, but it was rejected by the guard who demanded to see their passports. The guard reportedly said one passport was missing and a heated dispute erupted.

Another guard then approached, Roni Aboud, one of the family members told Haaretz. He was carrying teargas and asked them if they wanted to be sprayed.

“I was surprised,” Aboud told Haaretz. “I didn’t think he would actually spray us so I said ‘yes, spray,’ I didn’t raise my hand against him, I did nothing illegal and suddenly he started spraying.”

There were 16 people in the minivan at the time, including two children. Aboud said none of the guards offered them any medical assistance after the incident.

The Airports Authority said an investigation found that the guard had acted improperly and they had begun disciplinary proceedings to fire him.

The incident comes amid widespread anger in the Druze community over the recently passed nation-state law. Members of the community serve in the Israeli army and have expressed particular outrage at the law’s provisions, saying it renders them second-class citizens.

Several Druze officers have resigned from the IDF in protest.

The nation-state law passed by the Knesset in July enshrines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” and says “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” It also defines Arabic as a language with a “special” status, effectively downgrading it from its de facto status as Israel’s second official language, though it cryptically stipulates that “this clause does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect.”

Its passage into the law books has elicited a hail of criticism by Israelis, Jewish leaders and the international community.

The legislation, proponents say, puts Jewish values and democratic values on equal footing. Critics, however, say the law effectively discriminates against Israel’s Arabs and other minority communities. The law became one of the Basic Laws, which, similar to a constitution, underpin Israel’s legal system and are more difficult to repeal than regular laws.

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