Palestinian-American woman detained at airport, to be deported

Immigration authorities say decision to deny Susan Abulhawa entry due to past incident at border crossing and not connected to BDS

Susan Abulhawa (CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia)
Susan Abulhawa (CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia)

A Palestinian-American writer has been detained on arrival at Israel’s main airport and will be deported, Palestinian and Israeli officials said Friday.

Susan Abulhawa was refused entry at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday evening, said a spokesman for the Palestinian Literature Festival, which Abulhawa had been set to attend.

She appealed the decision in an Israeli court Friday morning but her appeal was rejected, meaning she was likely to be deported in the coming hours, the spokesman added.

Abulhawa, author of the novel “Mornings in Jenin,” had been due to appear at panel events in both Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah during the festival, which is co-sponsored by the British Council.

The Allenby Bridge border crossing between Jordan and Israel (Shay Levy/Flash90)

Immigration authority spokeswoman Sabine Haddad told AFP the writer was refused entry because of an incident in 2015 when she refused to answer questions by security personnel when attempting to enter though a land crossing from neighboring Jordan.

“She was refused entry then and told that the next time she arrived she had to coordinate in advance,” Haddad said in Hebrew.

This time “she landed without arranging entry in advance.”

Haddad added that Abulhawa’s detention was not related to support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

In March 2017, Israel’s parliament passed a law barring entry to supporters of BDS, which seeks to isolate the Jewish state internationally.

Last month an American student spent two weeks in Israeli detention appealing an entry ban over her past involvement in a campus group that supports boycotting Israel.

Lara Alqasem was eventually allowed to enter Israel after its Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling upholding the state’s decision to deny her entry.

Alqasem’s detention came after a number of other high-profile cases in which travelers to Israel were questioned over their political views and alleged support for BDS, drawing scrutiny to the law barring boycott supporters.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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