Shin Bet Inquiry: Did the Israeli Slip His Gay Palestinian Lover Into the Country Illegally?

Couple detained while touring Old City of Jerusalem because Palestinian's one-day permit cited Makassed Hospital as his destination.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Amira Hass
Amira Hass

The Shin Bet questioned an Israeli and a Palestinian, who are a gay couple, after the police detained them in Jerusalem on suspicion that the Palestinian had entered Israel illegally with the help of his partner.

About two weeks ago, S., a Palestinian, came to Jerusalem after receiving a one-day permit to enter Israel to undergo cardiological tests at Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem. Because S., from Ramallah, had not been to Jerusalem since childhood, he and his Israeli partner, G., decided to tour the Old City and had then planned to go to Tel Aviv for a visit.

G. met S., his partner for the past two years, outside the Qalandiyah checkpoint and they drove to the Karta parking garage near the Jaffa Gate.

"I wasn't in Jerusalem for more than 20 minutes, S. told Haaretz, "when a group of policemen near Jaffa Gate detained us." S. was asked to show his permit and, because it cited Makassed Hospital as his destination, the pair was taken to a nearby police station.

The two men, in their twenties, said they were very nervous. The fact that the police had found an empty Israel Defense Forces tear gas canister in G.'s car added to their stress. G. said he had taken the canister when he went on one occasion to the village of Nabi Salah, where weekly demonstrations against the occupation take place.

The police showed S., whom they interrogated separately from his partner, the canister and said they had found "a bomb in the car."

"They knew very well what it was," G. said, referring to the canister, "and used it to scare S. He didn't know anything and had nothing to do with it."

The police told S. that he was "not allowed to be one meter away from Makassed," and that his presence was therefore illegal. S. told the police about his relationship with G. and that they usually met in Ramallah.

At one point, the police gave S. a phone and an unidentified man on the line asked him in Arabic how he was and what he was planning on studying and showed knowledge of the shops in his neighborhood. S. told Haaretz said that when he asked the man who he was, the man answered: "I am Alon, in charge of the Ramallah area. We have something to talk about. I will get you out [of detention] and you'll come to a meeting." The man was a Shin Bet security services agent.

S. says he hesitated but eventually went to the meeting with the agent three days later. S. told Haaretz that, after being asked all sorts of personal questions, Alon suggested that S. might inform the Shin Bet when he "hears about a demonstration, about people, where they're going, who's got a mind to protest, who helps kids who throw stones, who's religious, who throws stones at soldiers." When S. said he had hesitated before coming to the meeting because it was not an official Shin Bet summons, Alon said to him: "You want something official? I'll give it to you. Then you'll see what kind of problems I'll make for you with the Palestinian Authority."

S. told Haaretz that Alon ordered him not to tell anyone about the meeting or its content.

G. was summoned for a talk with a Shin Bet operative named Shavit at the Dizengoff police station in Tel Aviv. According to G., Shavit asked him general questions and said: "We want to get to know you." The matter of G.'s sexual orientation did not come up.

Shaul Gonen, an activist with the Israeli National LGBT Task Force, who specializes in requests for temporary legal status for Palestinian partners in gay Palestinian-Israeli couples, says the sensitive position of gay people in Palestinian society puts them at risk of blackmail by both Israeli and Palestinian intelligence agencies. "The Shin Bet tries to draft almost every gay Palestinian that gets arrested," he told Haaretz.

The Jerusalem Police said: "Under questioning the Israeli said he had picked up his Palestinian friend in the morning at the Qalandiyah checkpoint 'to take him to Tel Aviv because it was the first time he had received a permit and it was his dream to go to Tel Aviv.' He also said he did not know that the permit given to the Palestinian was for a visit to Makassed Hospital."

The police also said the Palestinian said the Israeli was his partner and was going to take him around Jerusalem before driving to Tel Aviv. They said they had complied with the men's request for legal representation and called in a lawyer from the Public Defender's Office. When the interrogation was over, the police said they gave the Palestinian man's information to the Civil Administration liaison unit and the Israeli man was released, but that police will recommend charging him with transporting a person illegally in Israel.

The police stressed that S.'s permit was only to go to the hospital "and not to tour the country."

The police did not reply to Haaretz's question as to whether it informs the Shin Bet of details of every illegal sojourner that it detains.

Read this article in Hebrew

Illustration: A Shin Bet officer with an eye witness at a crime scene.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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