New Israeli task force set to ‘crush any boycott’ & deport foreign BDS activists

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Israel has formed a new joint ministerial task force to track down and deport Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement activists that, according to Jewish officials, delegitimize and destroy the country from within.

The BDS international activists work to end international support for what they believe is Israel’s “oppression of Palestinians.” BDS calls for boycotts, sanctions, and divestment from Israel. Tel Aviv, however, views the movement as a threat to its national security.

The new task force announced Sunday by Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan and Interior Minister Arye Dery will effectively spy on hundreds of activists as well as organizations in the country. The data collected will then be used to identify foreign BDS activists and build a case against them, to deport and deny them future entry to Israel.

The task force “is a necessary step in light of the malicious intentions of delegitimizing activists who work to spread lies and twist the truth about the reality in our region,” Erdan said.

“We have a responsibility to do everything possible to crush any boycott and to state clearly that we will not allow the State of Israel to be harmed,” added Deri. The statement also accused dozens of anti-Israel groups of trying to gather information to be used in “delegitimizing” Israel.

Haaretz reported citing a government source that several foreign activists have already been identified by Israeli intelligence, with many entering Israel as tourists. The task force will now define “the criteria by which a foreign activist will be marked for deportation or barred from entry.” The official added that police representatives also agreed that BDS activists are provoking Palestinians in the West Bank to clash with Israeli forces.

Earlier on Sunday, the director-general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry praised the government's campaigns against the BDS movement, as Sima Vaknin-Gil spoke of international delegitimization of Israel as a threat to the state.

“The bottom line is that today, among nations of the world, Israel is seen as a pariah state,” she said promising to present a propaganda narrative that will replace that of boycotts and delegitimization. “Our goal is that by 2025, no one will question whether the State of Israel has the right to exist.”

Earlier this week, a Swiss BDS activist, Rita Faye, was deported from Israel after landing at Ben Gurion International Airport. According to local media reports, she was well known to the IDF for her harassment of Israeli soldiers at checkpoint crossings.