Physician Banned From Inspecting Detention Centre
Adv. Maher Talhami, an employee of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, was not allowed to get on a flight this morning to Eilat, there he was supposed to conduct a tour of a police detention center
This morning a team from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel is conducting a tour of a police detention center in Eilat as part of the regular tours the association conducts in such centers and has been doing so for the past 7 years. These tours are coordinated with the police several weeks in advance and all the participants received permission in advance after they were checked and given a “security clearance”.
Adv. Maher Talhami, a Physicians for Human Rights-Israel staff member, was supposed to fly from Haifa in the north to Eilat in the south. At the entrance to the airport parking area he was asked by the guard to present an ID card, was asked questions about his flight and his car was thoroughly checked. In the airport he went through the electronic gate, was interviewed by a security guard and presented an Israeli ID card, a card proving he is a registered lawyer, a business card showing that he works for the association and even explained in detail the purpose of his trip, was checked by another security guard and a metal detector, was asked to remove his shoes so that they too could be checked, was interviewed another 3 times by different guards and answered all their questions including those that invaded his privacy, and was then asked to go into a side room for another search. At this point Adv. Talhami refused to continue to be searched in the other room, and was then told he could not fly.
At the same time, team members who were heading to Eilat for the same tour from the airport Sdeh Dov near Tel Aviv- and amongst them there were no Arabs- went through the electronic gate, answered the questions posed by the security guard and got onto their flight without any additional check or delay.
This is not the first case in which Arab citizens of Israel have been discriminated against, and have been treated in a racist and humiliating manner by airport officials. We understand the need for security checks, but demand that they must be conducted in an equal manner for all citizens; in any event it is forbidden to humiliate the person being checked. In case of a doubt regarding the purpose of Adv. Talhami’s trip or his identity, the airport officials could have either called Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, or even the police that authorized the tour that Adv. Talhami was intending to conduct today in the detention center, in order to verify any details.
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel condemns any racist acts and will file a suit against the Airport Authority in the name of Adv. Maher Talhami.