What is a security ban?The military and the Civil Administration have shared computers, where in order to issue a permit, to enter into Israel, you can’t have a security ban, you have to have the Shin Bet approve it. Loads and loads and loads of people (Palestinians) have security bans, loads.
What do you get it for?The Shin Bet has never published what gets a person a security ban, there are rumors. For example, I know that if a relative of yours has carried out a terrorist attack, your chance of having a security ban is very very high. And the Palestinians will always say they didn’t do anything. I don’t know, it looks very arbitrary from the outside, but the Shin Bet might know better than us.
What other criteria are there?Obviously if you threw stones and were caught. If you’re wanted for questioning, and you didn’t turn up for questioning then obviously. I don’t know, I don’t know, nobody knows. It’s very complicated and hard to get a ban removed, we fought with the Shin Bet over this. There are people where it’s clearly in our interest for them to enter [Israel] from the [occupied] territories, leaving humanitarian [cases] aside for now. [Permits issued on] humanitarian [grounds] are very hard [to get], but entry [permits] for businesspeople too. [Businesspeople] ask to have bans removed, sometimes it’s approved and sometimes it’s not. You’ll never be told the grounds for why not. And it’s a process, there’s a crazy bottleneck over there.
Say you're a rich businessman, a rich Palestinian, do you have
better chances of having your security ban removed than the
chances of a construction worker having a ban removed?Here I don’t think there’s something that the military is doing wrong or that the [Civil] Administration is doing wrong. Like in any country, there are state interests. A businessman, we have more of an interest for him to enter, as a country, so we’ll push more. I’ll push the Shin Bet to finish his review faster.
To finish checking whether he’s a security threat or not?Exactly.
First a person gets a ban, and only later they check whether
he’s a security threat or not?When a ban is applied, no one is told. It’s someone in the Shin Bet that enters the ban into the computer. He clicks ‘ban,’ and that’s it. And then when you go to issue the permit, it says 'security ban' in red, and you can’t issue a permit. So you contact the Shin Bet and say to them: I want to put in a request to remove a ban. And then they check. The Palestinian himself can’t go to the Shin Bet and ask for the ban [removal], he has to do it through us, we have to do it. We do it for the people for whom we have an interest for this (the ban removal) to happen. There are some for whom we don’t have [an interest].
Is it possible that bans or ban removals are used as some sort of leverage for the Shin Bet to put pressure on Palestinians?There’s always a chance, but not as far as I know. But there is the feeling that the Shin Bet is very very trigger-happy with this. And in fact, that’s how it does prevent, that’s its easiest, best tool for prevention. There are so many banned people, it’s surreal. Using it as leverage? I don’t know how they can use it as leverage. By removing [bans]? The process is through us. We used it as leverage occasionally, [on] the person you request a ban removal for.
What does that mean?It’s much more acceptable in Palestinian society to talk to the Civil Administration. We’d use it sometimes: "You want your ban removed? Talk to me" or "look how much I’ve done for you."