Israeli authorities on Thursday deported three Swedish citizens who arrived in the country earlier that day in a delegation of seven young people with Jewish and Palestinian roots.
Two of the three women were born in Sweden to Palestinian parents. The third was born in Syria, but immigrated to Sweden at a young age and has never been in either the Occupied Palestinian Territories or in Israel before.
The three were put on a plane back to Sweden after eight hours of questioning at Ben Gurion Airport, by a number of different interrogators whose identities and positions were never clarified.
Four of the Jewish participants in the delegation ? two of whom hold dual Israeli and Swedish citizenship ? were permitted entry.
One of them, Tigren Feiler, was asked to sign a declaration that he would not enter Palestinian territory, and was told to leave collateral of NIS 5,000 with airport authorities. Upon his exit from the country, the money will be returned to the bank account of his grandmother, who lives in Kibbutz Yad Hannah.
At the advice of his lawyer, Feiler added the words "under protest" beside his name when signing the declaration. According to the lawyer, the document he was forced to sign is not legal. The signing took place in a room tagged Interior Ministry. The three women who were deported to Sweden were also taken to that room during questioning.
Feiler told Haaretz that he and the three women had been held in a waiting room for about eight hours, called sporadically in by authorities for questioning and interrogation. He was also asked to provide his interrogators with his father's name and the names of his grandparents.
His luggage was inspected thoroughly, Feiler said. He also said that he did not ask his interrogators to identify themselves.
Feiler and another member of the group, who had helped organized the trip, showed their interrogators the full schedule planned for their visit. Feiler said that now that the Palestinian contingent of the group was no longer with them, a large portion of their schedule had to be canceled.
The 29-year-old said that in the 25 times he has visited Israel over the course of his life, he had never been subjected to such treatment.
The seven members of the delegation have been active over the last five years in a coexistence education group for Jews and Palestinians. The group's activity was initiated by the Swedish "Jews for Israeli-Palestinian Peace" group and the Palestinian Association in Stockholm.
According to Feiler, members of the education group visit schools, tell their personal stories in order to try and show that "Jews and Palestinians were not born to be enemies".
Though they might have different opinions about proposed solutions, he says, they show that the way to advance is through dialogue and common activities.
The delegation had planned during its visit (which is the second of the kind for the group) to participate in educational sessions with Israelis and Palestinians. The trip was funded by the Olof Palme Foundation in Stockholm.
According to the Right to Enter (RTE) group from Ramallah - which comprises foreigners and Palestinians with foreign passports ? the number of people refused entry into Israel who have family, work and social connections with Palestinians has grown over the last year. The exact number is not known, and the Interior Ministry has still not responded to Haaretz' request for the statistics.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now