Israel Forces Tourist to Pledge to Avoid pro-Palestinian Activities as Condition for Entry

A 30-year-old Swedish tourist was forced to sign an 'obligation form,' written in broken English, when she tried to cross the border into Israel from Sinai.

Israel's Interior Ministry last week refused to allow a Swedish tourist to enter the country unless she signed a document committing her to avoid any contact with "members of pro-Palestinian organizations".

Anna Pgereld, a 30-year-old Swedish woman who is five-months pregnant, arrived at the Taba border crossing near Eilat around noon on Tuesday with a Norwegian friend, and was immediately singled out for questioning.

Taba crosssing
Eli Hershkovitz

"I was invited into an office and was questioned about my religion, if I had contact with any religious organizations here, what I do during the day, how much money I have got to spend and where I got it, what I do in Sweden and so on. Then we had to wait again, not knowing what would happen," she told the left-leaning blog +972.

After waiting for several hours, Pgereld she was presented with what seemed to be an improvised contract, written in broken English, which displayed the logo of the Interior Ministry's Population, Immigration and Border Authority.

After she agreed to sign it, her passport was stamped with a visa allowing her to stay in Israel until her scheduled flight out nine days later, instead of the usual 3-month visa.

"It seems very strange to be asked such questions in a democratic country. I don't think it's anyone's business who I'm going to talk to or who my friends are. I came as a tourist, with a friend, who for some reason wasn't asked a single question," Pgereld said.  

"I was subjected to a difficult interrogation for four and a half hours. It was already starting to get dark outside. I realized that if I didn't sign, they weren't going to let me enter Israel and I would be arrested. It was a very difficult experience. I have visited Israel in the past, and I've never experienced anything like this."

The Interior Ministry's Population, Immigration and Border Authority said it was surprised to hear about the incident.

"The purpose behind the document was to make sure the lady doesn’t visit friction areas. Nevertheless, we intend to check the issue and the document itself," an Authority spokeswoman told +972 in response.

Read this article in Hebrew