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The number of people who have been refused entry into Israel rose by 61 percent in two years, from 1,828 in 2005 to 2,941 in 2007, according to the Interior Ministry's Population Administration.

The Central Bureau of Statistics, meanwhile, shows a rise in the number of entries into Israel during that period, but by a much smaller rate of only 19 percent - from 1.92 million entries to 2.29 million.

The Entry to Israel Law grants the Interior Minister extensive powers to prevent foreigners from entering the country. It does not require the minister to elaborate on the reason for the refusal, but it is assumed that most people refused entry were those the authorities feared would remain here illegally either to seek work or join family members from the former Soviet Union.

It is also possible that some people were suspected of planning protests. During the second intifada, groups of human rights activists were turned away.

For example, in the summer of 2002, 300 people from Italy were planning to take part in a human chain in Jerusalem, but were denied entry. The first 40 were turned away at Ben-Gurion International Airport, and the rest chose not to come.

At the end of May, an American political science professor, Norman Finkelstein, was not allowed into the country, although he is Jewish and would be allowed in by the Law of Return. The Interior Ministry explained the decision by saying it had followed the instructions of the Shin Bet security service. Finkelstein, a harsh critic of Israel, had met in Lebanon with Hezbollah activists and visited the graves of members of the group.

Among other examples is a Filipino woman, Daisy Baril, who last December was denied entry and held for three weeks in detention. The authorities said they were concerned that Baril would stay in Israel because she was in a romantic relationship with an Israeli man.

At the end of 2005, six Turkish nationals arrived at the Haifa port hidden in a shipping container. They had intended to reach Italy, and each had paid between 1,000 and 1,500 euros to be smuggled there. Israel sent them back to Turkey.