Israeli airport authorities allegedly told a naturalized U.S. citizen from the Gaza Strip to abandon his Palestinian citizenship before deporting him — for no reason, apparently.
In a series of Facebook posts and a video, Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib claimed he was detained while on his way to Jerusalem to go visit his sister, who's studying at Hebrew University.
“Despite all kinds of research, confirmations and due diligence, I'm being held at Ben Gurion airport,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
Alkhatib is the founder of San Francisco-based Project Unified Assistance — a nonprofit organization that advocates for the establishment of a United Nations-operated and -regulated airport in the Gaza Strip.
He added Israeli officials — under “orders from the army” — confiscated his boarding pass and his passport and treated him as a Palestinian with “active citizenship” in spite of the fact that he is a naturalized American citizen who has not visited the Palestinian Territories for nearly 12 years.
As Alkhatib was deported to San Francisco, via Turkey, he filmed his ordeal, saying Israeli officers who escorted him out of the country told him to “drop” his Palestinian citizenship.
“Despite offers to put in a $3,000 security deposit and despite thousands of dollars of hotel and other reservations," Alkhatib added. “All are being forfeited and I'm being sent back on the next flight. I'm being kept in a gross corner of the airport where I had to practically beg a security officer to let me go to the bathroom where he accompanied me all the way to the stall. Sad that what began as a journey to reunite with some family members (including my parents who are going to Tel Aviv for my father's treatment) and to meet my peace and coexistence-promoting Israeli friends ended up being a terrible experience that creates more barriers and obstacles.”
As baffling as Alkhatib’s treatment at the hands of Israeli authorities is, it’s not uncommon. Palestinians traveling to Israel from foreign countries have been subjected to similar treatment. In fact, in 2015, in just one month, three U.S. citizens of Palestinian origin were reportedly denied entry into Israel.
Despite being naturalized, Israel treats such foreign nationals as Palestinians — an approach that has prompted criticism of discrimination against Palestinians.