Israel's Shin Bet Reportedly Barred 250 People From Entering Israel in 2018

Most of those refused entry were Muslims from Arab states, Europe and the United States. The figures do not include those detained for questioning but allowed to enter

File photo: Passport control lines at Ben Gurion Airport
Eyal Toueg

The Shin Bet has barred 250 people from entering Israel in 2018, Kan 11 News reported on Wednesday.

Most of those refused entry were Muslims from Arab states, Europe and the United States. Shin Bet Arab department staff interrogated them at Ben-Gurion airport or at the Taba and Allenby crossings.

They were stopped on suspicion of being involved in terrorism, espionage or political subversion, the report said.

The figures do not include visitors the Shin Bet detained and questioned but then allowed to enter.

>> Read More: Israel's attorney general to examine Shin Bet detentions of left-wing activists

Recently, American Jewish journalist Peter Beinart was questioned for an hour upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday; inter alia, he was asked about his political positions and his ties with left-wing organizations in Israel. The Shin Bet later said this was an “error in judgment” on the part of the Shin Bet officer on the scene, and that the agency has launched an investigation.

Reza Aslan, the Iranian-American author and former CNN host, was held at the Israeli-Jordanian border for four hours two weeks ago and questioned about his political views, articles and activism, he told Haaretz and Tweeted. Aslan said he was threatened and told: "We can make it so you don’t see your kids for a long time.”

The practice isn’t confined to visitors from overseas; the Shin Bet has also questioned Israelis upon their return home. In May, Israeli Tanya Rubinstein was detained and questioned upon her return from a conference in Sweden. In June, Israeli Yehudit Ilani was questioned upon her return from covering preparations for a flotilla to the Gaza Strip on behalf of Israel Social TV. And in July, Israeli Moriel Rothman-Zecher was detained and questioned about his ties with the left-wing organization Breaking the Silence.

Several American Jews have undergone similar questioning. Last month, Meyer Koplow, who has donated millions of dollars to Israeli schools and hospitals, was questioned at the airport on his way home from Israel because a Palestinian leaflet was found in his suitcase. And last week, two left-wing American Jewish activists, Simone Zimmerman and Abby Kirschbaum, were questioned when they entered Israel through the Taba border crossing from Egypt. Zimmerman and Kirschbaum said that inter alia, they were asked what they thought of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.