Israel seeks to deport activists who support boycott

A 2005 protest at Bil'in

The state of Israel will be spying on hundreds of activists and organizations in the country and in the Palestinian West Bank, as part of a new task force charged with ridding the country of foreign activists who support the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment Movement, or BDS, against Israel.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan issued a call on his Facebook page for Israelis to report anyone they believe has been working as an activist having entered Israel as a tourist.

Their team, which was first announced past year after a parliamentary vote, will be charged with locating and expelling Israel-based BDS activists and with preventing boycotters from outside the country from entering.

The taskforce will also work to deport those who have already entered the country.

Pro-BDS graffiti sprayed on a roadblock in the West Bank city of Hebron reads "Boycott Israel".

The team will work to identify the activists now in Israel and prevent the future entry of similar activists.

Such activity, he added, is an "example of the need for a strategic affairs ministry that promotes the use of legal measures in the struggle against the delegitimization of Israel". The Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum led by Father Gabriel Naddaf, the Zionist Foundation For Israel, and the DMU Project (the activists refused to reveal the meaning of the acronym) claimed that they had exposed anti-Israel activists operating in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria, including volunteers of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) in particular.

At a press conference, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said the task force "is a necessary step in light of the malicious intentions of delegitimization activists who act to spread lies and twist the reality in our region".

The senior official noted that the new taskforce will define the criteria by which a foreign activist will be marked for deportation or barred from entry.

The Israeli government has grown increasingly concerned about the growth of the BDS movement, as the movement's support base has expanded to include companies, universities and religious institutions around the world divesting from organizations complicit in Israel's violation of Palestinian rights.

Upon Erdan's appointment in 2015, it was reported that he would oversee Israel's battle against global boycott efforts - traditionally the purview of the Foreign Ministry. "The boycott of Israel must carry a price".

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