Following HaMoked’s petition: Israeli military reverses travel ban on academic from the West Bank going abroad to attend a creative writing masterclass in Frankfurt, Germany
Every year, the Israeli security forces ban hundreds of Palestinians from the oPt from going abroad, without a hearing or a notice regarding the travel ban. These “security”-based bans are often imposed arbitrarily, and are frequently lifted following the submission of a petition by HaMoked.
Thus in the case of a college lecturer from Nablus who writes fiction in his free time and has published several short stories, some of which have been translated into foreign languages. The man was accepted to a short-stories masterclass to be held in mid-October 2019, in Frankfurt, Germany. He was one of 12 chosen as the most promising writers out of the many participants who took part in writing workshops conducted in the West Bank, Egypt and Lebanon. The man, who aspires to become a professional writer, saw the masterclass as an important part of his development as a writer and was naturally eager to attend.
However, in June 2019, when he arrived at Allenby Bridge – the border crossing connecting the West Bank to Jordan and thence to the rest of the world – the military prevented him from leaving the West Bank. He filed an objection to the military against this ban in late July and soon contacted HaMoked for assistance. HaMoked applied to the military on his behalf on September 4, 2019, but received no substantive answer past the stipulated deadline for response in such cases and despite the urgency involved. Therefore, on September 26, 2019, HaMoked petitioned the Jerusalem Court for Administrative Affairs, to compel the military to respond and lift the ban.
In the petition, HaMoked noted its concern that the ban was imposed against the man as part of security officials’ attempt to pressure him to become a collaborator: In November 2016, the last time he had returned from abroad, the man was arrested for the first time in his life at Allenby Bridge and was later interrogated by the Israel Security Agency (ISA). During his interrogation, the ISA proposed that while abroad, he could act as their informer and in return they would help him succeed as an author. If he refused, they said, he would not be allowed to go abroad in future. The man firmly rejected this illicit offer. It should be noted that it is expressly prohibited in international law to pressure protected persons to collaborate with the occupying power. Moreover, when he was denied exit from the West Bank in June 2019, instead of notifying him that he could file an objection to the ban on the spot, he was told at Allenby Bridge that if he wanted to “solve the problem”, he must go to the ISA representatives in the West Bank.
Following the petition, before a hearing was scheduled, the ban was lifted unconditionally, and the man duly traveled to Frankfurt.
This case demonstrates the arbitrary nature of so many of the travel bans imposed on Palestinians of the oPt. Israel thus harms the right of many Palestinians to freedom of movement, which is a basic condition for the realization of many other rights, forcing those who wish to assert their right to engage in lengthy and exhausting bureaucratic and legal procedures.