Israel denies entry to UK activist for second time since 2014

Gary Spedding, 28, has an extensive history of anti-Israel activism, though he denied being a supporter of the BDS movement.

Gary Spedding was denied entry on Jan. 14, 2019, into Israel for second time since 2014. Credit: YouTube Screenshot.
Gary Spedding was denied entry on Jan. 14, 2019, into Israel for second time since 2014. Credit: YouTube Screenshot.

Israel denied entry to 28-year-old British activist Gary Spedding on Monday for second time since 2014, an ordeal that he chronicled on Twitter.

“I’ve just been detained upon arrival at Ben Gurion airport by officials from the border agency. After 3 hours of interrogation they have decided to refuse my entry,” he tweeted. “This comes after abiding by a 5 year long ban from Israel and following all correct procedures.”

Spedding said he notified the Israeli embassy in the United Kingdom and Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom Mark Regev, claiming that he was invited by “civil society organisations and had planned to meet members of Knesset.”

Additionally, he had hoped “to meet with Israeli colleagues and civil society to discuss lessons and experience regarding peace building in Northern Ireland,” he tweeted. “This was meant to be part of a series of meaningful discussions with Israelis and Palestinians.”

After decades of fighting between the Irish Republican Army and Great Britain, the Northern Ireland peace process became a success with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

“Preventing a person who poses no security threat to the State of Israel or to ordinary Israelis is a scandal,” he said. “It is an anti-democratic move designed to intimidate, isolate and silence critical voices.”

Israeli immigration authorities told Spedding that he was denied again because he did not have a required pre-approved authorization from the Israeli embassy in London.

Spedding and his lawyer, Gaby Lasky, claimed that he applied to the embassy numerous times and even contacted the ambassador himself through a friend who is a British parliament member, but never got a response.

“This is a case of a British passenger that landed in Israel after his entry had been denied for various reasons. At the time, it was decided that he had to coordinate his entry prior to his arrival in Israel,” said Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority, reported Haaretz. “The passenger landed in Israel and set facts on the ground. It was therefore decided to bar his entry.”

Spedding was held at Ben-Gurion Airport for five hours before being sent back to the United Kingdom.

Although he boarded the flight, he posted on Twitter that he plans to appeal the decision.

“Unfortunately, they were quite adamant that I had to get on the flight,” he tweeted. “I will of course be appealing the decision (again) but on further advice from legal side it was deemed best to fly back to UK and not further antagonise interior ministry. I rejected the refused entry order.”

Beforehand, he tweeted: “After having been surrounded by approximately 7 Israeli security, told I was ‘standing up or we will make you stand up’ they have brought me to a flight to send me back to the United Kingdom.”

Spedding has an extensive history of anti-Israel activism, though he denied being a supporter of the BDS movement. He was a member of the Palestine Solidarity Society at Queen’s University, Belfast. He was one of the organizers of a protest, which became violent, against Israeli lecturer Solon Solomon.

His case comes almost a few months after Israel detained American anti-Israel activist Lara Alqasem who, after a successful appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court, was allowed entry into the country to begin graduate study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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