Israel deports Palestinian-American author back to US

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Susan Abulhawa, held at Ben Gurion airport since Thursday, was set to participate in Palestinian literary festival

After legal appeal, Israeli judge orders Abulhawa's deportation on Friday (Wikimedia Commons/Decltype)
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Saturday 3 November 2018 9:55 UTC
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Palestinian-American writer Susan Albulhawa was deported from Israel and sent back to the United States, according to a post on her Facebook page.

"Israel has denied Susan entry. She is now on a plane to return to the US," wrote one of Abdulhawa's friends, Linda Hanna, who logged on to her Facebook page.

Abulhawa had been held at Ben Gurion airport since Thursday, Middle East Eye reported earlier on Friday. She was set to take part in a Palestinian literary festival.

"It has been an exhausting and frustrating few days," Hanna said in the post.

Mahmoud Muna, a coordinator for the Kalimat Palestinian Literature Festival, confirmed to MEE that Abulhawa was taken aside and interrogated upon arrival at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, only to be informed that she was being denied entry because she had not applied for a visa ahead of her trip.

"They were planning to deport her at 10pm last night, but we had a lawyer appeal,” Muna said, adding that an Israeli judge upheld the decision on Friday morning and ordered Abulhawa be sent back at 10pm that same day.

Abulhawa has been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause and of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Israeli occupation.

She "deserved to be allowed to attend [the festival] in her birthright country," the post on Facebook read.

"For a conference on Palestinian Literature to take place without the participation of a foremost, internationally recognized Palestinian author is a travesty and a suppression of Palestinian culture."

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Israel looks to deport Palestinian-American author detained at airport

In the past several years, Israeli authorities have increased efforts to fight BDS. A 2011 law paved the way for lawsuits to be levied against individuals and entities, whether Israeli or foreign, pushing a boycott of Israel.

In 2017, Israel's parliament, the Knesset, passed a law allowing authorities to ban entry into Israel - and by extension all occupied Palestinian territory, as it falls under Israeli control - to foreigners deemed to support BDS.

Last month, a US citizen of Palestinian origin, Lara Alqasem, was detained for more than two weeks by Israeli authorities, who denied her entry despite her having obtained a visa to study at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The denial came because of her alleged support of the BDS movement.

Alqasem appealed her case to the Israeli Supreme Court, which ruled to allow her into the country.