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British-Palestinian barred from Israel under anti-BDS law

Israel passed its controversial anti-boycott law last month [AFP]

Date of publication: 13 April, 2017

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Professor Kamel Hawwash was denied entry at Ben Gurion airport while travelling with his family to visit relatives in East Jerusalem.
A British-Palestinian academic was barred from entering Israel last weekend under a new controversial law targeting supporters of the boycott movement.

Professor Kamel Hawwash was travelling with his family to visit relatives in East Jerusalem, but was denied entry at Ben Gurion airport.

Israeli officers immediately took him aside after he showed his passport and later told him he was being deported under the anti-boycott law.

"I was clearly on a wanted list. He had a pile of papers, he was pointing to tweets they said I had written. They were clearly ready for me," Hawwash told The Independent.

Last month, Israel's parliament passed a law barring entry into the country for those supporting a boycott of Israel. 

The legislation denies permits and residency visas to anyone who has publicly called for a boycott of the country.

Hawwash, a prominent Palestine activist, said he was forced to leave his wife and son at the airport in tears. 

"I am personally devastated at my denial of entry," he told the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

"Firstly because I could not be with my wife and son for our holiday, but also because I have been denied entry to my homeland."

Hawwash had regularly visited his family in the past, and this is the first time he has been denied entry.

He now fears he may never see his elderly relatives again.

"My constituent Kamel Hawwash is being denied entry not only to Israel, but to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and access to his family – it is utterly shocking that now he may never see them again," Richard Burden, Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield said in a statement.

Last month, Hugh Lanning, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), became the first British citizen to be denied entry to Israel under the anti-boycott law.

In December, renowned theologian Dr Isabel Phiri became the first foreign citizen to be denied entry to Israel on the grounds she supported the BDS movement.

Months earlier, one of the most prominent campaigners in the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti, was barred from leaving Israel for a speaking tour.

"The bottom line is that Israel is using its new boycott law to ban foreign human rights activists," Ben Jamal, director of PSC, said in a statement.

"According to the Israeli government, human rights activism is a security threat."

The Palestinian-led BDS movement, founded in 2005, has growing international support.

Senior Israeli officials have declared the movement a strategic threat.

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