Fact Sheet: Abuse of Tourist Visas by Radical NGO Activists for BDS and Political Warfare
- NGO activists have systematically obtained tourist visas to enter Israel under false pretenses, and then acted to harass and obstruct IDF and security personnel, organize and participate in violent protests, contact terror organizations, promote BDS and demonization, and engage in other activities inconsistent with the status of tourists.
- This growing phenomenon has been a source of concern in Israel, leading to a change in government policy. Previously, individual activists were refused entry into Israel on a case-by-case basis.
- On August 7, Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan and Interior Minister Arye Deri announced the formation of a joint taskforce to work to prevent BDS activists from further exploiting tourist visas and to deport activists in the country illegally.
- International organizations can apply for humanitarian aid visas in order to work in the West Bank.
- The terms of Israeli humanitarian aid visas prohibit the recipient individuals and organizations from engaging in political or legal activities.
- Israel does not exercise exclusive control over entry or exit from Gaza via land borders. Activists seeking entry to Gaza are able to apply via Egypt, in addition to Israel.
- According to media reports, Israeli border control has already refused entry on several occasions:
- In July, a group of five activists, including Bina Ahmad, Muhammed Malik, and Ramah Kudaimi, affiliated with U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation– a U.S. based NGO that advances BDS campaigns and lobbies Congress to pressure Israel- were denied entry at Ben Gurion Airport.
- On August 2, Rita Faye, a Swiss BDS activist who had allegedly “visited the Jewish State a number of times in the past, and [was] known for her harassment of IDF soldiers,” was denied entry at Ben Gurion Airport.
- On August 15, Charlotte Kates, international coordinator for the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, was denied entry at a border crossing with Jordan. On July 1, the organization held an event called “BDS is Our Right – International Day of Al-Quds.”
- On August 21, Pam Bailey, international secretary for the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (headed by Richard Falk) and director of We Are Not Numbers, was denied entry to Israel at Ben Gurion Airport.
Refusal of entry
- Under international law and practice, every state has an absolute right to control its borders and determine which individuals are entitled to entry.
- Examples of denial of entry in other countries:
- United States: The U.S. regularly denies entry to individuals with suspected links to terrorist organizations, including Gilbert Chagoury who has been tied to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. Similarly, in March 2015, the US turned back a family arriving from Canada due to concerns about possible terrorism connections.
- Denmark: In August 2015, Denmark’s “autonomous Faroe Islands announced that they had refused entry to a ship carrying 21 activists from the militant conservation group Sea Shepherd… who were trying to disrupt traditional whale hunts on the islands.”
- United Kingdom: In June 2013, the UK refused entry to two American bloggers, known for radical and anti-Muslim sentiments.
- France: In June 2016, French border authorities prevented a British aid convoy carrying supplies to a French refugee camp from entering the country, “citing security concerns for the Euro 2016 football championship underway in France and the demands of counterterrorism.”
- Canada: In August 2016, “Hundreds of activists hoping to attend the World Social Forum in Montreal [were] denied visas by Canadian immigration officials.” The gathering was condemned for promoting antisemitic stereotypes, and the Canadian government revoked its sponsorship of the event.