Jaggi Singh, a Montreal-based writer and social justice activist, was refused entry to Israel on Saturday evening. He is presently being detained while launching an appeal against the refusal, which will be heard before an Israeli tribunal today.

Singh was travelling to Israel and Palestine in order to observe and write about the situation in the Occupied Territories, and as part of a delegation of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). The ISM is a movement of Palestinian and international activists working to raise awareness about the struggle for Palestinian freedom and an end to the Israeli occupation.

Singh was stopped and questioned by Israeli security upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. During a phone call Sunday, Singh said most of their questions were attempts to gage the extent of his knowledge of the Palestinian situation and of the region’s history, particularly the Israeli occupation of the territories.

Singh believes that when it became clear to his interrogators that he was prepared to report knowledgeably and critically about the occupation, they were “spooked” and decided to refuse him entry. When Singh asked directly why he was being refused, an officer answered, “Because you’re a troublemaker.”

Told that he would have to get on the next flight back to Canada, Singh refused to leave Tel Aviv voluntarily because the Israeli security officials who questioned him had failed to give any legally valid or substantive reason for his refusal. Canadian officials with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) have told Singh’s contact people that he was refused for “security reasons.”

But at no point, says Singh, did officers insinuate or seem to be concerned that he was a genuine “security risk,” although they did know and ask about his work as a social justice activist.

On Sunday evening, Singh’s lawyer, Shamai Leibowitz, obtained a court injunction against his removal. The stay of deportation is valid until his appeal is heard in an Israeli court by a tribunal of judges. Singh now awaits the hearing.

In recent months, Israeli authorities have cracked down on international activists who travel to and work in the Occupied Territories, such as those who are part of the ISM, and have made it increasingly difficult to enter the area. A report published in Ha’aretz yesterday, states that over 3000 internationals have been refused entry by Israeli authorities over the past year. One more such case represent “just one small injustice in the big sea of injustice that is the Israeli occupation,” as Stefan Christoff, a friend of Singh’s and a member of the Montreal ISM stated at a press conference held Sunday by the ISM and Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights.