Israeli writer questioned for helping Palestinians visit Israel

12:00 Nov 16 2011 Tel Aviv

By Amira Hass for Haaretz

Author and translator Ilana Hammerman was questioned by the police for the third time this week on suspicion of bringing Palestinians into Israel without a permit.

Last year, Hammerman began bringing Palestinian women and children on visits to Israel. It began as a private initiative to enable her Palestinian friends to enjoy experiences usually barred to them, like going to the beach or visiting East Jerusalem. But it turned into a public protest against the restrictions on Palestinians' freedom of movement when she reported on her activities in an article she wrote for Haaretz Magazine in May 2010. In response to that article, police summoned her for questioning in October 2010. Meanwhile, she continued to bring Palestinians into Israel.

Ilana Hammerman invited three young Palestinian women for a day of fun in Tel Aviv, overcoming the roadblocks on the way and in the mind.

On Wednesday, police questioned her for about two hours. Hammerman said that from her interrogator's comments, she understood that her case has been transferred to the prosecution for a decision on whether to indict her. The May 2010 article, in which Hammerman described taking three Palestinian women to the beach, prompted the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel to file a complaint to the Attorney General against her. The Jerusalem District Attorney's office passed on the complaint to the police, which summoned her for questioning.

After Hammerman received the summons, 12 other Jewish Israeli women published a paid advertisement in which they announced that they, too, had taken Palestinian women and children on visits to Israel. A similar ad was published following Hammerman's first interrogation in October 2010, this time signed by 19 additional women. At that point, police summoned 28 of the signatories for questioning as well. But Hammerman is the only one who has been questioned more than once.

At Wednesday's session, she was asked about another article that she published in Haaretz Magazine this July, in which she tells the story of Palestinian workers being smuggled to Israel. This was the first time she had been told she was suspected of bringing men as well as women into Israel illegally. Hammerman told the police that this article was a literary work, but that he could draw his own conclusions. She declined to say where the Palestinian women she took to Israel lived.
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