Two German researchers were unlawfully detained at the Israeli Consulate in Munich last January after they decided to appeal to Israel’s decision to prevent them from entering the country and the West Bank for five years, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Tuesday.
Sarah Rueller and Maria Belén Gimenez Ciciolli were supposed to enter Israel from the Ben-Gurion Airport last November and visit their research colleagues at Birzeit University in Ramallah.
However, Israeli authorities denied them entry into the country, alleging that the two researchers wanted to “engage in subversive activity during their stay”, Haaretz reported.
On January 24, when they visited the Israeli consulate in Munich to verify their signatures and start the appeal procedure, they were “illegally detained” for more than three hours.
Haaretz reported the two women as saying that “the interrogator asked them numerous questions about the details of the proceedings and asked for the names of their Palestinian colleagues at Birzeit”.
Moreover, “one of the two women was also asked to show ‘proof’ that she was actually doing research, and to show her WhatsApp correspondence with one of her Ramallah colleagues.”
Rueller and Gimenez Ciciolli are now asking the Israeli Foreign Ministry to hold a disciplinary inquiry to investigate the incident, Haaretz reported.
For years, Israel has resorted to detaining foreign activists at the Ben-Gurion Airport, due to their solidarity with the Palestinian people. In March 2017, the Israeli Knesset passed an amendment to the Entry into Israel Law, which prohibits the entry into Israel of any foreigner who makes a “public call for boycotting Israel”.