Since March 9th, Ben Gurion Airport has been running a new, automated system for checking passengers’ bags. This follows the filing of a legal petition by flagship NIF grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) in 2007 challenging Israeli security agency Shin Bet, the Israel Airports Authority, and the Transportation Ministry to end the discriminatory practice of subjecting all Arab travelers to special security checks.
In the years since the petition was filed, reforms had been avoided, with the authorities claiming that the profiling of passengers was necessary, and that they lacked the resources to treat all passengers equally.
Now Israeli-Arab and Palestinian travelers have reported some positive changes to ACRI: they haven’t been asked invasive and aggressive personal questions, their possessions haven’t been taken from them to be searched, and they haven’t been separated from other passengers and body-searched.
ACRI is encouraged by these developments. At the same time, the group does not intend to withdraw the legal petition until further changes are made. Attorney Auni Banna explained: “Questions remain about other ‘search stations’ during the [security] check – the interrogation, the body search – before the flight, but also on return to Israel, after landing.”