‘The Student’s Interrogator Said He Was A “Human Lie Detector”’


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Lia Flattery, of Trinity News, writes:

Four Trinity medical students were refused entry to Palestine’s West Bank this summer…The two male and two female students, who have asked to remain anonymous, returned to Dublin in late June after being detained for questioning in Tel Aviv. They were due to travel to the West Bank with Medical Overseas Voluntary Electives (MOVE), a Trinity-based charity that facilitates third year students wishing to complete a one-month placement abroad during the summer...

…Arriving in Tel Aviv in the early hours of 1st July, the students were stopped by airport customs officers who queried the purpose of their trip. “We told the truth,” our source said. In a letter to the students, seen by Trinity News, the PCRF confirmed that they were coming as a  “non-political humanitarian relief group.”  According to our source, he and his fellow students believed this would be sufficient proof of their motives. He said that it was routine practice for the PCRF to have foreign surgeons or doctors visit the hospital to carry out procedures or train the local staff.

However, the letter “aroused suspicion” among the customs officers and the students were led away for questioning. “We were put into a side room,” he said. “We probably spent about an hour in there. And we were called one by one for five to 10 minutes each just to give our details, our name, address, phone numbers, what our purpose was, what our parents’ names were and then we were sent back to the room.”

The volunteers were then led into a second waiting room, where one of the male students was taken away and questioned individually for, our source estimated, “45 minutes to an hour.” According to our source, this student was seated in a room with a two-way mirror and was subject to aggressive questioning with “a camera in his face.” His interrogator identified himself as an employee of the Ministry of the Interior and told the student that he was a “human lie detector.”

The student was questioned extensively about how the members of the group knew each other, his personal views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, their purpose for travelling to the West Bank and why they had chosen to volunteer in Palestine instead of in an Israeli hospital. Our source said the interrogator “wanted to know everything about me… what my parents do, if I am a member of any anti-democratic groups, and whether I was politically active… what my hobbies were.” The official tried to “get us to admit that we were going to Gaza, which of course we weren’t. You can’t get into Gaza via Israel – the border’s closed. You’d have to go via Egypt. We’d no intention of going to Gaza… He was just trying to provoke us, just trying to make us say something incriminating so that he could deport us.”

Medical students denied entry into West Bank (Lia Flattery, Trinity News)

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49 thoughts on “‘The Student’s Interrogator Said He Was A “Human Lie Detector”’

  1. LeScull

    So they weren’t tortured, nothing was confiscated and they weren’t deported.
    What’s the issue exactly?

    1. Billy

      They were unreasonably detained. Would an Israeli doctor have been subject to the same treatment in an Irish airport? Hardly.

      1. LeScull

        Sounds like they were reasonably detained and questioned in a very reasonable manner and have made all sorts of unfounded conclusions as to the intentions of those questioning them.
        Not a particularly pleasant experience i’m sure but hardly a newsworthy story either

        1. 15 cents

          you’re an idiot. they wanted to go in and help people in need as aid workers, and they were treated like terrorists. how you see no wrong in what happened is baffling. you’re probably one of the israeli embassy propoganda team. there are a few of em here.

          1. LeScull

            Take out any reference to israel or palestine from that article and you have a description of something that happens in airports all over the world every day.
            Anyone can claim to be an aid worker and officials are perfectly entitled to query that.

          2. ReproBertie

            You think it’s reasonable for airport security anywhere in the world to ask what your parents do and how you feel about an international political situation? So you wouldn’t find it at all strange if upon arrival into Canda you were questioned for 45 minutes on what your Dad does for a living and how you feel about the situation in Ukraine?

        2. Jack Ascinine

          You are correct LeScull. In addition, I doubt any effort was made on this side to coordinate a painless entry with the Israeli embassy, you know, checking for visas, what’s required etc. I’ve travelled to Tel Aviv on business before and having a letter from the host company I was visiting still didn’t keep me from being interrogated and delayed. That’s the way the cookie crumbles as they say. Just because you show up at the airport, doesn’t mean that they are obliged to like you or let you in.

          They are all students, and now they have all learned a lesson. The circle is complete.

          1. samantha

            nah guys, lescull you wrong. These guys were horribly intimidated, not tortured, but I heard pretty frightening threats were made.

    2. H

      The issue is that they time travelled – in the fist para it states they “returned to Dublin in late June after being detained for questioning in Tel Aviv” while in the second paragraph it states they arrived “in Tel Aviv in the early hours of 1st July No wonder the Israeli authorities wanted to question them!

    3. LeScull

      ReproBertie, they were asked questions for a few minutes and one of them for a whole 45 minutes by officials in a country known to have extremely tight security based on the fact their work visas consisted of a letter from a charitable organisation saying they were ok to work there?
      I’d expect the possibility of the same anywhere and have been detained and questioned for longer and with less reason in China and the UK in the past.

      1. ReproBertie

        I see no mention of work visas in the post. Where did you get that from?

        I was detained twice in the UK under the PTA. In neither case were my parents brought into the equation nor was I asked for a political opinion or views on a political situation. That said, the UK believed they had a reason to be a dick to Irish males (in particular) at the time. You said you’d expect that to happen anywhere which is obviously a load of old cobblers or do you really expect to be asked how your mother makes a living when you enter another country?

        1. LeScull

          There’s no mention of any work visa, my point exactly, just a letter from the organisation they were there to work for.
          Of course i’d expect that can happen anywhere, why would you think a customs official would not have the right to stop and question you if they thought your documents were suspicious?
          You can be asked an awful lot more than that entering this country by customs or immigration officials and any brief scan of lonely planet or trip advisor would let anyone travelling to Israel to know what to expect.
          A complete non-issue.

          1. ReproBertie

            Wait, your point was that nobody mentioned work visas so this was all perfectly normal behaviour? The students were asked the purpose of their visit so they showed a letter from a volunteer organisation which explained the purpose of their visit. Nowhere did they say this letter was expected to grant them entry.

            Just to be clear, you would expect to be asked what your mother does for a living when you enter another country. Not only that but you believe people entering Ireland are asked for even more irrelevant details.

          2. rotide

            He’s saying that he expects to be questioned. The nature of the questions is up to the relevant country’s customs/immigration officials.

            You are acting as if asking someone about mothers occupation is akin to waterboarding. Relax for gods sake. It might be very slightly invasive questioning but it’s hardly life threatening.

          3. ReproBertie

            What are you rotide, the narrator? Let LeScull speak for themselves. They said “you have a description of something that happens in airports all over the world every day” in reference to someone being asked “what my parents do,… what my hobbies were”. I call bullsht on that happening in airports all over the world every day.

            If the gardaí asked someone at an anti-water tax protest what their parents did and what their hobbies were it’d be seen as an invasion of privacy. How is this any different? Do countries have a list of acceptable professions for parents of incoming international passengers?

            I’m perfectly relaxed thanks.

          4. LeScull

            Rotide, well put
            ReproBertie, you can call bullsht all you like, if you think that people are not detained and asked seemingly irrelevant questions in airports all over the world then you’re being a bit naive
            Whether they are asked their hobbies or what their ma does for a living that’s immaterial, people are questioned, it happens and it’s perfectly legal whether or not you have to answer them or how you answer them, those are different points entirely

          5. ReproBertie

            “Rotide, well put” = “thanks for the save Rotide because no matter how much I dug I just wasn’t getting out of this hole.”

  2. Billy

    Israel is the State equivalent of a the person that goes into a room after a drunk bird is put in there by her friends.

  3. egw

    I flew El Al. I was taken out of line and questioned for 30 minutes as the person I was traveling with had an almost exact same last name as me, one letter difference. It was enough to flag us. It was a US to London flight in the 90s. This level of scrutiny is not new for them. We were not going to Israel or the West Bank like the students above. SOP.

  4. rotide

    I have no idea what the usual SOP for charities sending people into this area is but arriving into Israel with just a letter from a palestinian organisation doesn’t seem like an ideal way to get in to the west bank with no questions asked.

    Did they not have documentation from MOVE and the Israeli embassy or were they putting all their trust in this letter from the PCRF? The article doesn’t seem clear on that.

    Anyway, as was mentioned, they weren’t tortured or deported or treated badly so this is a non story.

    1. Clampers Outside!

      More importantly…. why the fupp do they have to go through Israeli check points to get into Palestine… oh, yeah that’s it, because Israels’ apartheid regime turned what is left of Palestine into an open prison.

      I still think it is a story…. does someone have to die for something to be news now….

      1. rotide

        First off all Clampers, your question has nothing to do with the article really. We’re talking about why the students were detained not the bigger question of why the have to go through Israel.

    2. ReproBertie

      Rotide, neither Medical Overseas Voluntary Electives nor the Palestine Childrens’ Relief Fund are Palestinian organisations. MOVE is a TCD organisation and PCRF is American.

      I don’t believe what happened to them is a big deal (though I find it ridiculous that they were asked about their parents). I’m just clearing up a misconception in your post.

      1. rotide

        Fair enough, I appreciate the clarification.

        Although it probably reflects more on the standard of the piece that in the rush to outrage, those things plus the issues of what actual documentation they had were ommited.

        1. ReproBertie

          Exactly. Here’s some information. Other relevant information has been kept back to possibly help the story gain traction.

  5. shitferbrains

    How come when I look at Overseas Voluntary Electives website, there’s nothing for the West Bank ?

  6. phil

    I know an Lawyer , I think she is some sort of international rights lawyer , she spends a few months in the west bank every few years , whenever she is working on a project there, when she passes thu the airport in Tel Aviv , she tells them she is going for fertility treatment .

    I guess they believe her, because she is the right age, and Israel are world leaders in the field …

  7. samantha

    Wow, are interesting read ! Harshly treated, shocking stuff. I personally know of these people and it was very scary.

Comments are closed.

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