Israel Deports 24 Ukrainians Without Appeal, Defying Court Order

'The blow to the rule of law is especially severe,' says district judge after the immigration ministry ignores a court order giving refugees 48 hours to appeal

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A line at Ben-Gurion Airport last week.
A line at Ben-Gurion Airport last week.Credit: Hadas Parush
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Israel has deported 24 Ukrainians within 48 hours of their arrival, despite a court ruling requiring them to be given that much time to appeal their deportations.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Michal Agmon-Gonen, to whom this data was submitted, criticized the Population and Immigration Authority for its behavior on Monday. “The authority openly flouted the court’s decisions and denied [the refugees] the chance to change the decisions made in their cases by going to court,” she said.

Agmon-Gonen is the judge who set the 48-hour rule in a ruling last month. The immigration authority has defied it repeatedly.

In one case, the authority tried to deport two Ukrainians, a woman and her minor daughter, immediately after they were questioned at Ben-Gurion International Airport. The woman appealed this decision, and Agmon-Gonen stayed the deportation until a final ruling is issued on the case.

At that same hearing, she ordered the authority to give her data on how many times the 48-hour rule had been violated between March 29, when she first set the rule, and April 6. According to the authority’s affidavit, which was submitted on Sunday, 24 Ukrainians were deported in defiance of her ruling during that period, of whom 13 were deported on March 29 and the rest the following day.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Michal Agmon-Gonen, last week.Credit: Hadas Parush

“The Interior Ministry’s disregard for the court’s ruling on administrative issues is especially grave,” Agmon-Gonen said on Monday. “In its attempt to prevent judicial review of its decisions, the authority simply chose to ignore the court’s decisions. Under these circumstances, the blow to the rule of law is especially severe.”

She further said that “the director of the Population and Immigration Authority confirms in his affidavit that effectively, the authority ignored the court’s decision for 10 days and didn’t send suitable instructions to authority employees at Ben-Gurion Airport,” she continued. And it was only after the two Ukrainians appealed their deportation that “this wretched state of affairs came to light.”

At last week’s hearing, government attorney Efrat Kronberger said the state plans to appeal Agmon-Gonen’s 48-hour ruling to the Supreme Court because it is too difficult to implement.

“There’s a practical logistical problem here,” she said. “Where do we put these people? Where do those 48 hours stand when we’re talking about greater numbers than can be housed in the facility intended for this?”

The affidavit said that from March 29 to April 6, 209 foreign nationals passed through the Yahalom detention facility, where people denied entry to Israel are held until their deportation. Of these, 21 were Ukrainians. On average, Yahalom housed 23 people a day during this period, while its maximum capacity is 52 people.

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