Palestinian-American community elder detained at Ben-Gurion Airport for 24 Hours
On December 10, Israeli authorities at Ben Gurion Airport detained Chicago community elder Khairy Izzat Abudayyeh en route to visit his childhood home of El Jib, in the occupied West Bank. Abudayyeh was kept for twenty-four hours before being denied entry and flown back to the U.S. in the early morning on December 12.
According to Hatem Abudayyeh, son of Khairy Abudayyeh as well as co-founder of USPCN and Executive Director of the Arab-American Action Network, the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem failed to get in contact with Khairy Abudayyeh’s family, despite his status as a U.S. citizen and recent cancer survivor.
In a statement released on December 11, USPCN called for urgent action to demand the release of Khairy Abudayyeh as soon as possible. Thousands of friends, colleagues, and supporters of Palestinian rights called and emailed legislators in Washington D.C., the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, and the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. These, according to the USPCN, “no doubt, helped pressure the respective embassy and consulate staffers to inquire about Abudayyeh, and even helped his children speak to him for a few minutes.”
It is clearly laid out on the U.S. Consulate’s website that any U.S. citizen whom Israeli authorities “suspect of being of Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim origin; those who have been involved in missionary work or activism; and those who ask that Israeli stamps not be entered into their passports” are not able to receive facilitated entry from the U.S. Consulate and could therefore be sent back to the U.S. without refund of their flight tickets.
Israeli authorities are notorious for treating Palestinian travelers with impunity, regardless of citizenship or passport. Sandra Tamari, Nour Joudah, Orwah Hammad, and countless more Palestinian Americans have suffered experiences far worse than that of Khairy Abudayyeh, and they have reportedly received no justice. Authorities at Ben Gurion International Airport, the Jordan River-Sheikh Hussein border crossing, the Rabin-Arava border crossing, and the Allenby Bridge-King Hussein crossing are legally allowed to check emails, phone records, and any other personal information to discern eligibility for entry into Israel or Palestine.
USPCN has since updated their urgent call to action. They hope to show the State Department that this “status quo is unacceptable,” by continuing to call and email the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem and U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.