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What happens if denied entry into Israel?

What happens if denied entry into Israel?

Written by: Samara Becker

Israel is magnificent: from the beautiful beaches, wonderful deserts to the vibrant culture. Israel has become a hotspot for travel and tourism all over the world. However, there is a catch to traveling to the beautiful place; not everyone is allowed entry. While it does not happen to everyone, some face denial of entry when attempting to enter Israel. In this article we will explore why someone may be denied entry, what happens after someone is denied entry, and a true story of a 19-year old girl who was recently refused entry into Israel because of her background.

Ben Gurionairport: first look into Israel

         While to most, Ben Gurion airport is the first peak into Israel, for some, it is the place where they are refused entry and forced to return back home. According to the 1952 Entry into Israel Law, the Minister of Interior of Israel holds a lot of power when it comes to both visas and entry into Israel. The Minister of Interior is the state authority, holding the power to delegate to border control officers, who on a daily basis, allow or deny entry of visitors into Israel. The Minister of Interior, overlooking border control officers, may deny entry into Israel to anyone who is not a resident/citizen of Israel, but usually only deals with bug, public cases. There are legal reasons for denying entry into Israel, but border control officers and the Minister of Interior can also use their own discretion in their decisions. Each year, about 20,000 people are denied entry into Israel.

Why would someone be denied entry to Israel?

         Upon entry into Israel, the visitor is required to present their travel documents, and is questioned by an Israeli border controller. The controller will ask questions about the intentions of the visit, how long they plan to stay, etc. If the visitor raises suspicion in their answers, he/she will be forced to have a more in depth, private interview. There are many reasons that can lead to refusal of entry into Israel. For instance, if a visitor has falsified documents, or does not have the necessary travel documents, they will be denied entry. Further, if the visitor is a threat to public/state security, lacks the necessary visas, plans to illegally work and live in Israel, has a criminal record, or was refused entry in a previous trip to Israel, they will be refused entry. Overall, if any visitor refuses to cooperate with the Israeli border control officers, refusal of entry is on the table. These officers are free to use their personal discretion, not needing proof to make their decisions. Often times, border control officers use their personal discretion in an unfair way. As a law, Israeli border control officers are not allowed to go through someone’s phone without their consent. However, the border control officers have found a way around this law. Commonly, if a person does not give consent to have an officer go through their phone, the officer will simply label them as not cooperating, giving the officer the right to deny them entry to Israel. This system is unfair, but commonly used.

Personal background and refusal of entry

         While there are legal reasons for refusal of entry to Israel listed above, sometimes certain people are more susceptible to being stopped by border control, simply because of their background. Generally, countries around the world are categorized into two groups in regards to entering Israel: visa-free and needing a visa. Wealthier countries, such as America, are a part of the visa-free group, able to travel to Israel with only their passport and will receive a 3-month visa upon arrival. The countries that need a visa prior to entering Israel are usually poorer countries, or countries that Israel does not have a good diplomatic relationship with. Citizens of the countries needing a visa will need to go to an Israeli consulate prior to their trip and obtain a visa. About 15 years ago, new countries were added into the visa-free group, including Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, and Romania. As these countries became visa-free, citizens of these countries began to take advantage of their new easy entry into Israel. Citizens of these countries began working illegally in Israel and staying beyond their welcome, now aiding in suspicion and more denials of entry. People of Palestinian or Arab descent are extremely more likely to be stopped, due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. A prime example of this occurring happened in April of 2023, when a 19-year-old German girl, Cinin Abuzeed was denied entry into Israel.


German Palestinian teenager denied entry into Israel

Cinin was planning on traveling to Israel to visit family when her trip took an unthinkable turn. After landing in Israel and providing her documents, she was forced into more in-depth questioning, as she looks Arab and has an Arab name. This did not come as a shock to Cinin, as she knew she may be questioned further entering Israel due to what she looked like. However, what she did not expect was how she was going to be treated during this further questioning. Border control officers called Cinin a “dirty Palestinian” and refused her even simple rights, such as going to the bathroom with a locked door. After a total of 32 hours stuck in the Ben Gurion airport with no help from the German government, Cinin was deported back to Germany, angry and upset. Cinin took to social media to share her concerns, going viral and creating an uproar against the discrimination shown by the Israeli border control officers, and against the German government, as they took no steps to help Cinin.

So… what happens if denied entry into Israel?

         If a border control officer decides that entry to Israel is to be denied to the visitor, a deportation order is given. The visitor will then be taken to a detention center inside the Ben Gurion airport, where they will wait there until they are sent back to the country in which they came from. Like described above, sometimes the grounds for denying entry is extremely unfair and uncalled for. In these cases, visitors denied entry should contact a professional and knowledgeable immigration lawyer, to fight for their rights and provide assistance. Contact Decker, Pex, Levi if you are in need of assistance.