225 Palestinians Barred From Entering Israel for Joint Memorial Day Ceremony

Army suspends all permits, including those for participants in joint Israeli-Palestinian memorial ceremony, after stabbing attack in Tel Aviv

The joint Memorial Day ceremony for Israelis and Palestinians in 2012.
The joint Memorial Day ceremony for Israelis and Palestinians in 2012. Alon Ron

Over 200 Palestinians did not receive Israeli entry permits in order to participate in an annual joint memorial ceremony with bereaved Israeli families, due to a terror attack perpetrated by a Palestinian in Tel Aviv on Sunday.

For the past 12 years, The Parents Circle Families Forum, an Israeli-Palestinian organization for those who have lost family members to the conflict, along with Combatants for Peace, have held an alternative Memorial Day ceremony which has been attended by thousands of people.

The ceremony includes both Israeli and Palestinian speakers and is intended “to commemorate the memory of the victims of the conflict and the shared pain,” say organizers. The event will be held on Monday evening, the beginning of Memorial Day in Israel, at the Shlomo Group Arena next to the Tel Aviv Convention Center. As of now, it seems that the 225 Palestinian participants will not be able to attend.

The Israel Defense Forces’ coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, decided to cancel the entry permits requested by the event's organizers after Sunday's stabbing attack, in which an 18-year-old resident of Nablus in the West Bank stabbed four Israelis in Tel Aviv, lightly injuring them.

The alleged terrorist had a one-day Israeli entry permit, issued at the request of Natural Peace Tours, a travel and tourism agency for Palestinians based in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. The tours are intended to improve relations between Israelis and Palestinians.

After the attack, Mordechai suspended Israeli entry permits for all institutions and organizations, including the 225 permits for those invited to attend Monday's memorial ceremony, until an investigation is completed.

The Palestinians have taken preliminary steps to petition the High Court of Justice for the second time on the matter, although they haven't made a second request for permits from the coordinator, said the organizers of the event. They also noted that the coordination unit can grant the Palestinians special permission to enter Israel, but that has not happened.

The two groups organizing the ceremony called on Mordechai and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to grant permits to the Palestinians so they could attend the ceremony. “The Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony is one of the few events in Israel that succeeds in bringing Israelis and Palestinians together on one stage and providing a public message on behalf of peace,” said Combatants for Peace.