it's based on a transcript so it's not only my bad translation
happy new year
Central Court Tel Aviv-Jaffa
Sitting as Administrative Court
Before HHJ Oded Mudrik
In the matter of
1. Michael Russel
2. Sharyn Lock
3. Vittorio Aragoni
Advocate Gaby Lasky for the petitioners
Advocate Itzkovitz for the repondent
Your honour has already dealt with cases of this nature. They were previously in Israel and participated in ISM activites. It is not stated that they are simply tourists, rather they are activists who have undertaken humanitarian actions in the territories, each in a different place. Petitioner 2, it is said, was injured by live ammunition in the course of a demonstration and hospitalised in Bethlehem. The army fired live ammunition towards demonstrators, regarding petitioner 1 it is said he was detained by the Ariel police, taken to Ariel and released. We are not trying to embellish things, we have not sought to keep any information from the Court. Nevertheless we wish to state at this opportunity that the petitioners have come to Israel to participate in a conference on non-violent struggles. I have given the location of the conference documents.
Petitioner 1 has come for the duration of the conference, which is due to conclude on the 30th of this month. He has a return ticket from Israel. He has come to arrange his entry to Bethlehem with the sole intention of attending the conference.
As regards petitioners 2 and 3, they have come to attend the conference and have plane tickets for the end of January. They wish to visit an orphanage and hospital where petitioner 3 has worked. He has collected money to give to the orphanage. This is the essence of the petition.
During the petitioners stay at the detention centre, an incident of violence occurred, to my sorrow. I learned about it from the response entered by the state since they prevented petitioner 3 from contacting me or the Consulate. The respondents sought to put petitioner 1 on a plane due to leave at 4:15, but Judge Fogelman had issued an order at 4:00 to prevent their deportation. He resisted passively and told the police that the court order should be respected. Petitioner 3 was sitting next to him and force began to be used to separate them. In the course of the argument between police officers present and petitioners 1 and 3, petitioner 3 was taken out of the room and in the process a picture with a glass pane fell down. He was injured, as was one of the police,when he tried to remove a piece of glass from his hands. He was taken for medical treatment.
Attention is drawn to a number of facts in the response of the state which are a little puzzling. The state has submitted Exhibit 3, a statement from an officer at the detention centre, superindendent Eli Levi. To my sorrow, this is not the signature of Eli Levi. We know that Eli Levi drew up an incident report which is attached to the state's response as Exhibit 2. At the end of the report it is possible to see his signature, which is not similar to that on the statement, similarly the handwriting on the two documents do not match. I do not understand why there is a serious breach in the rules concerning giving a statement, in that he did not sign the statement himself yet the advocate on behalf of the state essentially confirms his signature. I think that is problematic.
The incident report is from 21.12.05, and the statement as noted here from 22.12. In both the statement and in the Interior Ministry reports, there is an investigative report which differs from the incident reports of other police officers. On page 2 of the investigative report concerning petitioner 3 it says that he was the one intended to be put on the plane, but that was in fact petitioner 1. All the details are completely different. Who had to cross the room was the Italian citizen and not the South African. It says he stood at the side of the room and did nothing, whereas in the investigative report and the statement it says petitioner 1 took an active part in preventing the attempt to get him out of the room.
Since I have raised this, your Honour himself has on many occasions commented to the state that investigative reports need to be more complete so that the Court can understand the reasons why the respondents have placed someone on the black list, or as it is called the general security list. Consider cases 1731/04 and 2063/04 where your Honour ruled that political positions are not sufficient to prevent entry to Israel. With regard to ISM, consider case 2129/04 Robinson where the Court permitted the petitioner to enter Israel even though she had taken part in the organisations activities, and where it was suggested that the respondents had to prove beyond doubt that the petitioners might perform illegal acts.
Since the petitioners came to Israel to take part in an international conference on non-violence, and that afterwards petitioners 2 and 3 wish to visit institutions they have previously worked with, in this case there is no proof even hinting at any danger from the petitioners. I therefore ask the Court the accept the petiton on conditions as determined by the Court.
We are not opposed to presenting documents before the Court. If there are to be statements we seek to cross-examine.
There is intelligence material relating to the petitioners. There is information that the Court can form an opinion of, meaning a reasoned decision. The judgement atttached must be distinguished, that case did not concern a conference in Bethlehem. The second case does not resemble this one. Our case is not about membership of ISM.
Concerning the statement, I do not know if he wrote the report. My learned friend can seek to examine him, but there is no doubt that he signed the report before the Lawyer of the airport and not before me. It seems to me that there is a signature on the report which he scribbled and here he signed his full name.
They went wild in the airport and are inciting others to object to their flying out.
Court in chambers to hear secret material
I present a letter from the Israeli Foreign Ministry to the official responible for foreign affairs at the British Embassy in Israel concerning another matter: the entry of a woman was permitted when she was had been denied entry because of her membership of the organisation -- in contradistinction to what was said before. ISM has been in existence for some years when activists came and went from Israel without being arrested, deported or their entry denied by the authorities. Along with this on a number of occasions activists were shot and injured by the security forces which does not necessarily imply that the organisations' activities were illegal. There was the case of ? (John Herder??) who was hit in the face. The claim that if someone is hurt by the security forces it means they are acting illegally is not proof, and is even the opposite at times. There are currently claims for damages by these families and individuals against the state regarding injuries to ISM activists. It is true that activists participate in demonstrations, and I am representing activists who demonstrate on Fridays in the territories. I claim that the state is seeking to ban demonstrations in a way that damages freedom of _expression and opposition, since the sole aim of the demonstrations is to hold banners and shout slogans. Perhaps this is not comfortable but there is nothing dangerous about it.
Regarding the petitioners, petitioner 1 has a ticket for the 30th of this month. He came to participate in the confernece and we can provide appropriate sureties to ensure his presence within the framework of the conference. We can say where he will be at the conference and at the end of the conference or shortly before he can immediately leave the country.
Petitioners 2 and 3 are asking to participate in the conference and stay for a longer time. I ask that they be allowed to go to the places they wish, Tulkarem. Petitioner 3 worked in a hospital there, he collected money for an orphanage, and to allow them to enter and ensure they will not act illegally.
To sum up. Your Honour said that membership of ISM does not provide cause to prevent their entry and there is no indication that they intend to take part in such activities or any other in the context of their entry to Israel. Unless the state has administrative evidence or the like concerning certain activites of the organisation which the respondents are seeking to prevent, we ask that their entry to Israel be applied to entry to a conference about which there are no problems. So any apparent evidence in this matter is not relevant.
The petitioners arrived in Israel on 20.12.05, as they assert, to participate in an international conference taking place in Bethlehem and due to finish on 30.12.05. Petitioner 1, Michael Horself (sic) holds a plane ticket that shows his stay ending at the end of the conference. The other two petitioners seek to stay in the state of Israel and the territories of the area of Judea and Samaria till the end of January.
They were denied entry on arrival on the basis that their names were inculded on what's called the "included list". This list is based on information gathered by the General Security Services and passed to the Interior Ministry. This Court orders a temporary stay on the deportation of the petitioners and directs a speedy hearing of their petition. The petition, as is clear, is to allow the petitioners to enter Israel and the territories of the Judea and Samaria area either to attend the conference or for further visits.
There is no disagreement that Isreal is in principle open to tourists from all over the world. Nor is there any disagreement that the Minister of the Interior has broad discretion to deny entry to Israel to a tourist provided that the decision is founded on relevant evidence.
Since the Interior Minister has used his discretion to prevent the entry of the petitioners to Israel, I have asked for the grounds for his decision to be clarified. A representative of the General Security Service has, in the presence of the Interior Minister's representative, put before me the information from the included list and on whose strength the petitioners were denied entry.
I found the information to be sufficient to warrant using the included list. I have outlined the information to the petitioners representative. The petitioners belong to ISM. This is stated to have International Solidarity as its objective. The trouble is that the GSS and other agencies like the Israeli police, have gathered a range of information about the activity of this organisation in the occupied territories over the last few years, activity which continues in essence till today. The activity may reflect the perspective of solidarity and fraternity, and of course an identification with the concerns of the Palestinian inhabitants of the occupied territories. But this is the perspective of the organisation and its members. From the standpoint of the State of Israel, the IDF and the security agencies, we are talking about people who, while they perceive themselves to be serving the benefit of the inhabitants of the occupied territories, are putting a big spanner in the works of security forces operations, particularly in the occupied territories. By this I mean participation in demonstrations, which may appear legitimate to them, but are not authorised and not infrequently turn violent. (Perhaps on occasion physical force is used by the security agencies to disperse a demonstration. This fact does not legitimise the demonstration nor does it negate the demonstrators' desire for confrontation.) We are not only talking about demonstrations. ISM members interpose themselves as human shields in front of soldiers seeking to perform specific tasks, furnish as much information as they can to warn the inhabitants of some activity or another of the army and gather information on military activity too.
I am of the opinion that there is no obligation on the Interior Minister to permit the entry to Israel of a person when there exists reasonable suspicion that this person will engage in the activity described above.
I have expressed my opinion before and I repeat it now: the simple fact that a person belongs to ISM is not in itself sufficent casue to block his or her entry to Israel. I was told explicitly by the representative of the Interior Minister and by the representative of the GSS that this view guided the Interior Minister's decision. Proof of this comes in the fact that others have come to Israel to attend the conference, including some known to be ISM members, or who so indicated, yet their entry was not denied.
Why, therefore, have these petitioners been denied entry? Because they have all visited Israel and the territories in the last year or two, and with respect to each of them, information has been compiled concerning activity of the sort I described above. Therefore, even if this time each one of the three has come with the intention to devote their stay to attending the conference or helping the work of a humanitarian agency, it is not possible to eliminate the Interior Minister's suspicion, based on what happened when the petitioners were here before in the recent past. As stated, the discretion is not mine, but the Interior Minister's and it is wide. I am of the opinion that the information put before him is more than enough to enable him to make the decision he has.
I remark further in general, that regarding at leat two of the petitioners there are reports of anarchist activity abroad. This fact is also capable of influencing the purpose of the present visit.
I have considered the arguments of the petitioners' attorney concerning the possibility of the first petitioner nevertheless being given permission to enter given the short length of his intended visit and it being resticted to the time period of the conference. Apparently on condition of appropriate surety that his stay is only in the context of the conference, it is possible to ensure he does not take part in any forbidden outside activity. The position of the respondent is that the conference itself is not considered a non-permitted activity and that there is no intention on the part of the authorities to take any action against it.
Nevertheless, I have come to the conclusion that it is not appropriate to compel the Interior Minister to grant entry to this petitioner. Permission to stay for a short period is based on the petitioner's statement that he will only concern himself with the confernec to which he has been invited. This declaration is not reliable to the Minister, and in order to check and confirm that the declaration is being kept and not broken it would be necessary to keep close watch on the petitioner's movements. I think there is no reason to place such a burden on the authorities. Of course this argument does not apply to the other two petitioners who seek a longer stay here and whose surveillance would be a far greater task.
According to what is said above I reject the petition.
No order to be issued.
Given 27.12.2005 in the presence of the parties.
Central Court Tel Aviv-Jaffa