Jordan Refuses Entry to Stateless Palestinian Journalist After Israeli Deportation Attempt

Supreme Court declined to hear final appeal of Mustafa al-Haruf, who has been in Israeli custody since January and lived most of his life in East Jerusalem

Mustafa al-Haruf at the Jerusalem District Court in 2017.
Oren Ziv

Israel tried to deport a Palestinian photojournalist from an East Jerusalem family to Jordan on Sunday night, but the Jordanian authorities refused him entry.

Mustafa al-Haruf, who was born in Algeria but has lived with his family in East Jerusalem since he was 12, was arrested in January for illegally residing in Israel. Since then he has been detained without charges or trial at Givon Prison, in Ramle.

The Interior Ministry rejected Haruf’s application for family unification petition with his wife and their two-year-old daughter — his wife is from East Jerusalem, and both she and their child have permanent Israeli residency status. The ministry said Haruf is a member of Hamas, a claim Haruf denies.

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His subsequent appeals of the Interior Ministry’s decision were denied, as were his appeals against his detention without trial and the threat of deportation.

Supreme Court Justice Neal Hendel on Thursday refused to hear an appeal of a lower court’s ruling, paving the way for Haruf to be deported.

Haruf called his family on Sunday evening and told them the immigration authorities planned to deport him within a few hours. On Monday morning, his family heard that he had been taken to the Aqaba border crossing after midnight, but the Jordanians refused to admit him. On Monday, the official Jordanian decision denying him entry arrived, but his family did not know his whereabouts. Only after Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice did the state prosecutor inform them that Haruf was headed back to Givon Prison.

The Interior Ministry retracted in recent months its claim that Haruf was a Jordanian citizen. Still, even after Adi Lustigman, his attorney, explained that Haruf’s only travel document is a laissez passer that doesn’t permit residency in Jordan or any other country, and further reported to the court that a Jordanian diplomat had told her Jordan would refuse to admit him, the State Prosecutor’s Office continued to claim that Haruf could be deported to Jordan and that he had a Jordanian passport.

Hendel and Jerusalem District Court Judge Eli Abravanel both accepted the state’s position. Hendel also ruled Thursday that Haruf and his counsel bear the burden of proof that he lacks residency rights or citizenship in Jordan or anywhere else.

Nevertheless, Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Hadad told Haaretz Monday that Haruf could not be removed from Israel “due to a technical problem” that would be “solved within a few days.”

During legal proceedings over the past three years, representatives of the Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s office and the Shin Bet security service did not reply when Lustigman asked why Haruf was never charged or prosecuted on security offenses if he in fact constitutes a potential security threat. The suspicions against him are still classified.

Haruf says all his meetings with members of various Palestinian organizations stem from his work as a photojournalist and that he has posted photographs of demonstrations and other events in Jerusalem on his Facebook page.

For around 20 years, Haruf had had a residency permit for Jerusalem that was renewed periodically. His parents and siblings under the age of 18 were issued permanent residency in the city, where his father was born.