Police detained prominent left-wing activist Jeff Halper last Wednesday at the Ma'aleh Adumim settlement, for suspected incitement, saying they acted on a complaint he had "materials related to BDS" in his possession.
- Israel blocks head of pro-BDS organization from entering Israel
- Israel's travel ban backlash: Over 100 Jewish studies scholars threaten to not visit Israel in protest
- New York Times blasts Israel over travel ban of boycott supporters: 'Unjust and counterproductive'
Halper, who moved to Israel from the United States in 1973, was picked up after leading a tour of foreigners to the E1 site across the road from the settlement and transported by police van to a nearby station then released without being placed under arrest.
Police officers photographed the posters and maps he was holding before freeing him. Halper denies handing out any material related to BDS during the tour, or even discussing the boycott movement.
Handing out such materials would not have been in violation of the law, even a 2011 anti-boycott law according to which a person or an organization calling for the boycott of Israel, including the settlements, can be sued by the boycott's targets without them having to prove that they sustained any damage.
The law also denies a person or a company that declares a boycott of Israel or the settlements eligibility to bid for government tenders. A separate law passed this month entitles Israel to deny entry to pro-BDS activists.
Halper, cofounder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, told Haaretz he was on a tour with foreign visitors in the territories last Wednesday. He took the group of 15 to a lookout over Area E1, near Ma'aleh Adumim.
"It's a good place to show them this context of where Ma'aleh Adumim is located relative to Jerusalem. It's a regular stop on our tours, this wasn't the first time I was taking a group to this spot," Halper said.
After the tour the tourists boarded a bus headed north and he headed to catch a bus to Jerusalem, but "as I ran toward a bus, I saw police in the area, and I saw them talking and contacting the group. I called the Palestinian driver (of the bus transporting the tourists) and he said he had heard a rumor that we were distributing BDS material."
"Suddenly the bus came to a stop in the Middle of Maaleh Adumim, after two stops, the police boarded the bus and told me, you are being detained, and they took me off the bus," Halper said.
Halper was questioned about the material he had.
"They didn't tell me why I was being detained; they said something about BDS, but no details. They put me into a van, which is unpleasant as it is. They drove me in the direction of the police station. Just when we got to the station they stopped and asked me a few questions about what I had in my bag and whether I had any BDS material in the bag.
"We got out of the vehicle and they threw my maps on the van, the maps were of Jerusalem and the greater Jerusalem area. There was also something on which it was written BDS for BDS, it's something that I use. I say that we have no solution to offer and I propose a binational democratic state, so I have the slogan that goes BDS for BDS. It's not a sticker or flyer, but just a map with those words on it.
"They found it and took it, wrote up a summons or something like that, and released me," Halper said.
Halper said the police refused to give him a copy of the ticket or explain what he was suspected of.
In response to a query from Haaretz, the Samaria regional police said:
"There is no investigation into this matter. There was information checked by a patrol once it became clear he committed no violations, he was freed."
Police spokespeople said the suspicion against him is "incitement" but he was released after questioning, and no further investigation was expected to take place.