Machsom Watch Requests to Monitor Airport Security Checks

Group petitions to work alongside security personnel at Ben-Gurion Airport to oversee checks of Israeli Arabs.

Machsom Watch, a group of women who monitor the behavior of Israeli security forces at West Bank checkpoints, has recently requested permission to monitor the interrogation of Arab travelers at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

The group sent the request in a letter to Israel Airports Authority head Gabi Ophir and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz.

Maya Bailey, one of the Machsom Watch leaders, said Tuesday that the organization does not plan on having regular shifts at the airport, due to a shortage of volunteers.

"I think it would be enough to work with the security personnel and help with their training," she said. "It could prevent a great deal of the suffering caused to passengers."

If the Airports Authority agrees to the request, it will mark the first time the volunteers would be operating within the Green Line. Bailey said Machsom Watch does not oppose the airport security checks themselves, but does oppose the humiliating way in which they are sometimes conducted.

Machsom Watch's airport activities, if approved, will be funded by the New Israel Fund.

Several months ago, Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, one of the funds' board members and a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, ended up canceling a flight to an international conference in Tunis due to the security check she underwent at Ben-Gurion Airport.

The Nazareth-based Arab Association for Human Rights has since compiled a report showing that security officials discriminate against Arab passengers.