Airport security in Israel - David Bachar
Security staff questioning Israeli Arab passengers at Ben-Gurion Airport. Photo by David Bachar
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The Nazareth District Court last week rejected a request from three Israeli Arabs pursuing a billion-shekel class-action suit to seek compensation for humiliating inspections at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

The three had sought to sue the Shin Bet Security Service, the Airports Authority, and Israeli airlines El Al, Arkia, and Israir, on behalf of the entire Israeli Arab sector. Israeli Arabs are routinely subject to stricter security inspections at the airport than their Israeli Jewish counterparts.

In rejecting the suit, Justice Nehama Zimring Munitz explained that the district court was not authorized to view materials pertaining to secret security protocols, and that only a Supreme Court justice could be privy to such information.

Munitz added that the fact that the country's top court has shied away from issuing a definitive ruling on the legality of security inspections, or other discrimination-related matters, despite viewing similar materials during earlier appeals, supports her ruling in this particular case.

Evaluating individual incidents is not sufficient evidence for issuing a ruling that Israeli Arabs are indeed discriminated against during security inspections, the judge said.

Approximately a million and a half Arab citizens live in Israel, and not every one of them is subject to such discriminatory checks, she said.

"Such a ruling cannot reflect the factual situation on the ground," the justice said. "It is also clear that we should not rely, as the plaintiffs have requested, on newspaper articles as a basis for claims of discrimination."

A class-action suit was not the appropriate legal means for these plaintiffs, the judge added, as each was complaining about a separate situation, which occurred under unrelated circumstances, and inflicted different levels of harm. The judge recommended that each file a personal suit based on his own experience, to allow the court to evaluate each case separately.

At the end of the deliberations, the judge ruled that the three plaintiffs must pay a sum of NIS 75,000 in court fees.