(September 30, 2018 / JNS) The Shin Bet security agency on Friday rejected allegations that it systematically detains foreign left-wing activists attempting to enter Israel.
The agency recently came under fire for detaining Jewish-American commentator and Israel critic Peter Beinart at Ben-Gurion International Airport. The incident garnered international attention, prompting Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit to order a review of airport interrogation procedures.
In a statement issued through the Justice Ministry, the Shin Bet, responding to a query from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, published data saying that in 2017, some 336 foreigners were denied entry to Israel on the grounds of suspected terrorist and espionage activities, while only 17 individuals were denied entry to the country due to political activities affiliated with the radical left.
“Airport interviews of this nature are held as part of the Shin Bet’s duty to thwart illegal activities on nationalistic grounds or those pertaining to terrorism. This does not take place in the context of suspicion of subversion or in the context of delegitimization” of the State of Israel, “nor does this mean to prevent protests,” said the Shin Bet.
The agency stressed that it “does not question political activists, as this does not fall under our purview.”
Commenting on the Beinart affair, the agency noted that “interviews must refrain from including questions on an individual’s political views.”
It further noted that “when possible, officers must do what they can to minimize the subject’s delay at the border crossing.”