Ministry of Interior Rescinds Order to Deport European Human Rights Activist


On 14 July 2002, the Tel Aviv Administrative District Court heard a petition filed by Adalah on behalf of Ms. Nuran Yigit, a representative of the Belgian-based International Cultural Youth Exchange (ICYE); the Association for Arab Youth; and in its own name, against the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and the Border Police. The petition, filed on 12 July 2002, asked the Court to declare void the MOI's 11 July 2002 order to deport Ms. Yigit from Israel. 

Ms. Yigit, a German citizen born in Turkey, arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport on 11 July 2002. She had traveled to Israel in order to participate in preparations for a seminar entitled "Inter cultural Youth Dialogue: Post September 11," to be held in Nazareth in September 2002. The seminar is being organized by the Association for Arab Youth's Baladna project, located in Haifa; ICYE; and Youth Action for Peace (YAP). It is funded by the European Union. Ms. Yigit was formally invited to attend the preparations by the Association for Arab Youth, a legally registered organization that promotes awareness of democratic values, pluralism, and social change. 

In the airport's passport control area, immigration officials asked Ms. Yigit several questions regarding her identity, her name, her Turkish origins and the objective of her visit. She was then interviewed by security personnel, who demanded to know why there were no Jews in the association that invited her, and why no Jews were taking part in the preparations for the seminar. After being held for four hours without explanation, Ms. Yigit was informed that she would be deported to Germany on the next available flight, on 14 July 2002. 

Ms. Yigit was subsequently detained for three days in a tiny room with seven other women. She was allowed to make telephone calls only to the German embassy, and she was given insufficient and poor quality food. Toilet facilities for the eight women were insufficient. The day after she was detained, Ms. Yigit suffered kidney pains and required medical treatment at a local hospital. 

After Adalah Staff Attorneys Jamil Dakwar and Abeer Baker submitted their petition on 12 July 2002, the Court granted a temporary injunction to prevent the state from expelling Ms. Yigit until the end of the legal proceedings in the case. At the hearing on 14 July 2002, Adalah and the Attorney General's representative reached an agreement whereby Ms. Yigit would be allowed to enter Israel on the condition that she does not travel to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). Following this agreement, the petition was dismissed. Adalah argued, nonetheless, that this agreement was insufficient and that the Court should declare the Ministry's order void, for the following reasons: 

  • The deportation order was clearly based on irrelevant considerations, such as the lack of Jewish members in the organization that invited Ms. Yigit;
  • The MOI did not provide criteria for its decision, or a clear, publicly-available written version of the deportation order against Ms. Yigit;
  • The MOI severely violated the right of the Association for Arab Youth to freedom of activity.
Adalah expressed concern that, because the Association for Arab Youth is involved in many international youth exchange programs, these events may repeat themselves in the future. Judge Uzi Fogelman advised that, in future, Adalah should co-ordinate with the Attorney General's office with regards to foreign delegations invited by the Association for Arab Youth. 

Since the beginning of the Israeli army's "Operation Defensive Shield," in March 2002, Israel has denied entrance to hundreds of human rights and solidarity activists, claiming that they failed to properly co-ordinate with the state before their arrival, and because they planned to enter Area A within the OPTs, parts of which have been declared closed by the military.