Israel Mistakenly Deported a Russian Tourist to Turkey, in Violation of Court Order

Yekaterina Latriya said she came to Israel for a vacation, but the authorities decided to deport her saying that she came to live and work in Israel. 'When I think about that country, I’m afraid that if I go there, I’ll sit in jail,' she says

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The Population and Immigration Authority at Ben Gurion International Airport, which deported Yekaterina Latriya to Turkey against court orders.
The Population and Immigration Authority at Ben Gurion International Airport, which deported Yekaterina Latriya to Turkey against court orders.Credit: Hadas Parush

Israel's immigration agency mistakenly deported a Russian woman last month, even though a court had ruled that she came for a vacation, and not to work as the agency claimed.

Yekaterina Latriya arrived in Israel on June 20 and was denied entry, even though she had a return ticket for July 3. She said that immigration officials at the airport assumed she was planning on settling in Israel.

Latriya, in her 60s, was taken to a detention facility at Ben-Gurion International Airport for foreigners denied entry, and submitted an appeal against the decision.

A court accepted her appeal and temporarily blocked the country from deporting her, but she was put on a plane and flown to Turkey anyway, and from there had to buy a plane ticket back to Sochi, where she lives.

Because of the mistake, the court ordered to allow her entry to Israel before the end of the month, but she says she doesn't know "when I’ll get over" the experience and want to come back.

Her lawyer, Lior Azulay, only heard about her deportation the next day, June 24, and said she was put on the plane in handcuffs.

A lawyer from the Tel Aviv District of the State Prosecutor’s Office admitted Latriya was deported "because of a mistake made by the Population and Immigration Authority."

'Turkey is waiting for you'

At the detention facility in the airport, which "was like a prison," she says she told immigration officials that she had hired a lawyer and did not intend on leaving without a court hearing on her case.

“After that, late in the evening, two guards came in. They threatened me, they had handcuffs, they showed them to me and told me that if I don’t go with them, they would cuff me,” she said. “I’m still in shock. I still haven’t recovered from it and don’t know when I’ll get over it.”

The next morning, she was handcuffed and told: “You’re flying to Istanbul, Turkey is waiting for you.”

Latriya told Haaretz that she had rented a hotel room in Tel Aviv for three days, and “after that I planned on going to the Dead Sea and visiting Jerusalem.” At the airport, the clerk refused to let her enter. “I asked what’s the reason, but she didn’t tell me,” she said.

The immigration authority said that when Latriya arrived at the airport, she was questioned in Russian, during which “it turned out that the passenger was looking for work in Israel and from the assemblage of facts that arose in the questioning, the suspicion arose of her settling and working illegally in Israel.”

The agency also told the court that Latriya was refused entry to Israel back in February because she had an expired coronavirus vaccination certificate, and that in her latest visit in June, she lied about certain details and deleted calls and messages from her phone.

Latriya was put in this detention facility at Ben Gurion International Airport before being put on a flight to Istanbul.Credit: Tomer Applebaum

Because of the deportation, the court ordered to allow Latriya to return, if she so chooses, by the end of the month on a tourist visa for three months, but her lawyer says she plans on suing Israel for it.

But she doesn't know if she wants to visit Israel again. “When I think about that country, I’m afraid that if I go there, I’ll sit in jail. That’s how they treated me,” she said.

“The day before she was deported, they confirmed to me that they received the order, and she would not be deported, and the court file also includes the confirmation of receipt of the order,” her lawyer said, referring to the immigration officials.

"I hope someone will take responsibility for the incident, and we will not settle for the answer that it was human error," the lawyer said.

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