For the first time, Israel on Monday refused entry to a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, Hebrew language media reported.
Isabel Piri, from Malawi, arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport as a tourist, but was refused entry as information available to immigration control showed Piri was active in the World Council of Churches, which supports boycotting products from West Bank settlements.
The WCC also sends volunteers from all over the world to the West Bank and East Jerusalem for periods of three months to serve as so-called “Ecumenical Accompaniers” to “experience life under occupation.”
“Wearing our distinctive vests, you will accompany locals and report human rights abuses, help protect communities and keep international agencies up to date with the situation on the ground,” the program’s website says.
After high-level consultations, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri decided to bar Piri from entering Israel, Channel 10 said.
Giving her an entry permit would “strengthen the unacceptable activity” in which she was involved, Deri said. “I will use all the authority I have to avoid harm to Israel.”
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said BDS supporters’ only purpose was “to harm the State of Israel by collecting information and presenting it in a twisted and lying manner… to the world.”
In November, a proposed law to prevent activists who call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel from being able to visit the country passed its first reading in the Knesset.
The bill has received support from both right-wing and centrist parties, while left-wing parties have decried it as anti-democratic and ultimately ineffective at addressing the BDS issue.